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Local Book Notes: Requiems For The Passenger Pigeon, The Rock Island Line & Amazing Fantasy #15

"It was 100 years ago when the passenger pigeon became extinct. WBBM's Steve Miller spoke with a Chicago author who chronicled the disappearance of the species," the station reports.

"It's rare when we know when the last of a species died," said Joel Greenberg.

"Joel Greenberg is the author of A Feathered River Across the Sky: The Passenger Pigeon's Flight to Extinction."

Click through for the interview.

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From Bloomsbury Publishing:

"Joel Greenberg is a Research Associate of the Chicago Academy of Sciences Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and the Field Museum. Author of three books, including A Natural History of the Chicago Region, Greenberg has taught natural history courses for the Morton Arboretum, Brookfield Zoo, and Chicago Botanical Gardens. He helped spearhead Project Passenger Pigeon to focus attention on human-caused extinctions. Greenberg lives in Westmont, Illinois. He blogs at Birdzilla.com and you can find more about Project Passenger Pigeon at http://passengerpigeon.org."

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From a review in the New Yorker:

"In his new book about the passenger pigeon, the naturalist Joel Greenberg sets out to answer a puzzling question: How could the bird go from a population of billions to zero in less than fifty years?"

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From a review in the Wall Street Journal:

"[O]n Sept. 1, 1914, Martha, a denizen of the Cincinnati Zoo, was found dead in her cage. She was the last of her kind. Stuffed and mounted, she is in the Smithsonian, although not currently on display. What could have driven a bird so abundant as to blot out the sun itself into extinction in only half a century? As Mr. Greenberg makes clear, it was the combination of three factors: the species' peculiar nesting habits, the Industrial Revolution and human ignorance."

Rock Island Requiem
"Anyone who grew up in the heart of the Midwest at one time or another felt the thunder of a Rock Island railroad train," Patrick Cooke writes for the Wall Street Journal.

"With some 7,000 miles of track from Chicago and St. Louis to Galveston, Texas, and Tucumcari, N.M., the line built a latticework of influence across 13 states. The approach of a two-mile long 'Rock' brought with it the passing music of American prosperity. For generations it beckoned and comforted. A Rock Island train was that lonesome whistle in the night.

"One of those beguiled by the railroad's song was Illinois native Gregory L. Schneider, a history professor at Emporia State University and the author of the heroically researched Rock Island Requiem: The Collapse of a Mighty Fine Line. Such was Mr. Schneider's dedication to the rails growing up that he claims to have preferred Trains magazine to Playboy. His history recounts the back-stabbing, greed, meddling and incompetence that led to the company's long death march during the 1950s and 1960s and its ignominious end in the 1970s."

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Also keep your eye on: This Railroad.net forum.

Strike Gold
"The 2012 Chicago Public Schools teacher's strike had an unintended consequence, parking one woman's drive to put books in the city's elementary schools," DNAinfo Chicago reports.

"So far Bernadette Pawlik's BooksFirst has created libraries in two CPS schools, is about to start a third and has collected more than 5,000 books for Chicago's schoolchildren."

Cautionary Comics Tale
The description of a recent Hardcore Pawn: Chicago:

"A mother of her son away at college makes a deal with Wayne and Randy to sell his comic books for $100, after an expert they hired determined their value. However, she later called off the deal when she got a better offer from another dealer, who was offering her $200. They would later find out that that other seller was actually the expert that they hired. Furthermore, they found the reason why the expert wanted the comics - it included a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, which featured the debut of Spider-Man, valued at around $12,000."

Here's the whole episode.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on January 23, 2014


MUSIC - The Week In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Trailer: Swing District.
SPORTS - Ryan Pace's Narratives Are Killing Us.

BOOKS - Chicago For Dummies.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - The Sears Motor Buggy.


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