The longest running Amphibian Community on the Internet.

Tags Register FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Store


Book Reviews Post information about books and articles you have read.



Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 23rd July 2008   #1
(Nathan050793) Donor
Nathan050793's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: [ Members Only ]
Age: 25
Posts: 828
Gallery Images: 0
Comments: 0
Rep: Nathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of Caudata.orgNathan050793 is a mainstay of
Default Book review: Swampwalker's Journal (Carroll)

Book Review: Swampwalker’s Journal- A Wetlands Year written and illustrated by David M. Carroll

(Copyright 1999 by David M. Carroll, 292 pages)

Swampwalker's Journal was awarded "The John Burroughs Medal"

This is my first book review, so I tried to make my format similar to the others, sorry if it isn’t perfect. Now on to the review!

I’ll start by providing the summary on the back of the book, as it is a fairly good representation- “ David Carroll has dedicated his life to art and to wetlands. He is as passionate about swamps, bogs, and vernal ponds and the creatures who live in them as most of us are about our families and closest friends. He knows frogs and snakes, muskrats and minks, dragonflies, water lilies, cattails, sedges-everything that swims, flies, trudges, slithers, or sinks it’s roots in wet places. In this “intimate and wise book” (Sue Hubbell), Carroll takes us on a lively, unforgettable yearlong journey, illustrated with his own elegant drawings, through the wetlands and reveals why they are so important to his life and ours-and to all life on Earth.”

And I must say, Carroll’s drawings are rather elegant. Many of them give beautiful depictions of amphibians (mostly related to vernal pools) including, four-toed salamanders (Hemidactylum scutatum), Spotted salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum), Blue spotted salamanders (Ambystoma laterale), Marbled salamanders (Ambystoma opacum), Eastern newts (Notophthalmus v. viridescens), and American toads (Bufo a. americanus), to name a few. Many species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and plants are also shown- all in various behavioral situations.

The book is interesting as David Carroll’s writing is easy to read and takes you through each season in wet places (each with his own imaginative nick-name). I was also very impressed as, the back of the book has a section which lists the common and scientific names of every species mentioned or illustrated within the book. Each illustration also lists the common and scientific name as a caption.

I have had the book for years, and must say that it is one of my personal favorites. I especially recommend this book to field herpers, as I think that it gives a fair description of what field herping can be like. It makes a great summer read and can be stored in the car or a backpack for any salamander field trip or can be read on a lazy summer day at home. The book isn’t so scientific that it can become boring, but is scientific enough to retain some interest from those who enjoy scientific material. It is more a story than a scientific journal, though.

I am sure that the book can be found on Amazon, and so I’ll list the ISBN numbers for those who are interested-

ISBN 0-395-64725-8
ISBN 0-618-12737-2 (pbk.)

Thanks to all for reading the review, enjoy the summer!

Useful links:
Caudata Culture Care Sheets FAQ Care Articles

(Look around you)
-Australian Aboriginal saying

Nathan050793 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 1st March 2014   #2
Junior Member
JAK's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: [ Members Only ]
Posts: 29
Gallery Images: 0
Comments: 0
Rep: JAK has started on the right path

Sorry to reach so far back into the forum but, I just finished this book (checked out from my local library thankfully) and had to speak up. The work is interesting enough and if not for the value of its content I wouldn't have bothered finishing it. Carroll's writing style is at its best charming, verging on the poetic, but one is keenly aware that the man is not a born writer and his labours to compose his thoughts into a coherent narrative often come through more strongly than his noble sentiments. The tone and imagery of the first few pages is nearly beyond compare among modern naturalist authors, but that beauty rarely comes through in the remainder of the work.

The deep sentiment of the author is evident in every page but often leads to basic oversights that prevent the reader from forming a complete image of the scene. One is forced to construct the dimensions and topography of the Reedgrass Pool for example, based on snippets that feel like afterthoughts. One gets the distinct impression that the work is composed from notes laid down exclusively for the benefit of people already intimate with the precise areas described. This may have been done to purposely focus on the wildlife and allow the reader to place themselves in Carroll's place and substitute local wetlands for those of the author. In effect one is left with a hazey disjointed image of a vividly alive scene. The constant, and thankfully eloquent, emphasis on the fragility of the wetland habitat does not feel heavy handed but does serve to highlight the commission of more accurate and explicit descriptions.

It's a fine enough book, and worth reading if one has yet to ramble through a marsh or wetland landscape, or has, but failed to find the exuberant life expected. The work is illustrated but often the illustrations fail to capture the importance of the environment; depicting a roiling ball of salamanders without a view of its margins fails to establish the real power of the sight. I expect Carroll to grow wonderfully as an author and long to read later works which will no doubt prove far better than Swampwalker's Journal.

Posted from the newt-phone!

JAK is offline   Reply With Quote

book, carroll, journal, review, review:, swampwalker, swampwalker's

Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Similar Threads

Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Book Review: The Moon of the Salamanders (Children's Book) (Jean Craighead George) Nathan050793 Book Reviews 12 10th August 2009 14:42
Book Review: Salamanders (Woodward, 2008) (Children's Book) distefan Book Reviews 3 7th July 2009 16:46
Book Review: Pip's Magic by Ellen Stoll Walsh (children's book) Otterwoman Book Reviews 0 19th May 2008 15:38
Book Review: Red Spotted Newt, by Doris Gove ([big] Children's Book) Otterwoman Book Reviews 0 4th May 2008 20:42
Book Review: What Newt Could Do For Turtle (Children's Book) (London and Voce) Otterwoman Book Reviews 4 28th April 2008 20:31

All times are GMT. The time now is 11:10.