Endangered Species: A Documentary and Reference Guide. By Edward P. Weber. Documentary and Reference Guides. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2016. 370 pages. Acid free $108 (ISBN 978-1-4408-3656-5). E-book available (978-1-4408-3657-2), call for pricing.

This volume details the important items in the development of the concept of endangered species, from John Locke to the current problems of the twenty-first century. Excerpts from more than fifty different significant documents appear, in roughly chronological order. The scope covers more than just endangered animals and plants, with related discussions on such items as water rights, utilitarianism, outdoor recreation, and climate change. Each chapter consists of the relevant sections of an essential document in the development of endangered species policy. Quotations from essays, actual congressional bills, speeches to Congress, executive orders and Supreme Court cases are among the featured items. Not all are easy to understand, especially the court cases, with their many case references. Each quoted item is followed by a one-page analysis explaining why the selection is considered noteworthy, as well as a brief list of further reading. Occasional “Did You Know” sidebars, briefly summarizing a particular problem that pertains to the subject of the chapter, provide clarifying information and/or examples. A small number of unindexed black and white illustrations seem to have been added as an afterthought, almost at random.

The first part examines early American ideas about conservation and wildlife extermination, up to approximately 1900, with the last selection covering Theodore Roosevelt and the conservation movement. The next discusses species protection from 1916 to 1970, with sections on Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, and the Wilderness Act of 1964. The third section, covering 1970–81, describes aturning point in the way endangered species were treated, this section highlights many cases, such as the protection of marine mammals, and the Clean Water Act. The following chapter provides selected “flashpoints” since 1981, such as spotted owls, gray wolves, and old growth forests.

The last two parts cover important international documents that address species lost around the world, and then new laws and problems of the current century. A comprehensive bibliography and index provide ease of use, as well as a reader’s guide to related documents and sidebars. The introductory essay gives a comprehensive overview of the problem.

A badly chosen cover illustration misleads, as 90 percent of the book discusses American responses to endangered species, while the cover depicts African elephant tusks in Zambia, which subject appeared only in a short sidebar.

Recommended for undergraduate college libraries, suitable for high school libraries also but the high price may be a deterrent.—Marion S. Muskiewicz, Science Librarian Emerita, University of Massachusetts Lowell


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