Book review: Swampwalker's Journal (Carroll)

Nathan050793

New member
Joined
Sep 24, 2007
Messages
828
Reaction score
32
Points
0
Location
Pennsylvania
Country
United States
Display Name
Nathan
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!
 

JAK

New member
Joined
Feb 16, 2014
Messages
29
Reaction score
2
Points
0
Location
Upstate NY
Country
United States
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!
 
General chit-chat
Help Users
  • No one is chatting at the moment.
  • lvlyvoa:
    hey thank you all so much for your help!! i shouldn't have been so careless, but I love my axie very much and her behaviour has improved as I have started a tank cycle and gotten some good food for her
    +1
    Unlike
  • faebugz:
    @lvlyvoa, good to hear, np. They love nightcrawlers and worms if you have access to them, they're the healthiest thing they can eat since they're a complete prey
    +1
    Unlike
  • BrodieBAxolotls:
    hey, does anyone have any brine shrimp eggs??
    +1
    Unlike
  • liz.:
    i do!
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    liz. has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    liz. has joined the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    liz. has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Jaeger:
    My axolotls were doing fine until the cycle int heir tank crashed. I currently have them tubbed and they wont stop shedding their slime coat, and my golden albino looks a little red, and his gills dont look too good. Theyre both flaoting and im keeping the tub at 18 degrees celsius and doing 100% water changes everyday, any help on anythingelse? can anyone help?
    +2
    Unlike
  • AkemiYousei:
    @Jaeger I would try to double up on Prime to combat the slime coat shed when doing the 100% water changes. Also, if it's bad, might want to consider a tea bath as a preventive measure.
    +2
    Unlike
  • AxolotlMama:
    I just wrote this on the post ^
    +2
    Unlike
  • AkemiYousei:
    Haha, great minds, right?
    +2
    Unlike
  • AxolotlMama:
    They sure do 😄!
    +2
    Unlike
  • Jaeger:
    @AkemiYousei thanks so much. Will do. I have also given them a tea bath before, seems to work their gills are looking so much healthier, my golden albino is swimming around frantically trying to jump out, should i be worried? my wild type is fine
    +2
    Unlike
  • AkemiYousei:
    Might be the stress, or the shedding bothering it
    +1
    Unlike
  • AkemiYousei:
    Make sure s/he can't jump out, and maybe keep her in a undisturbed, darkened place for a bit. See if that calms the goldie.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Unlike
  • Chat Bot:
    KOsika has left the room.
    +1
    Unlike
  • Jaeger:
    I woke up to my golden axolotl covered complete white. what do i do
    +1
    Unlike
  • Jaeger:
    Just found out, hes dead. :(
    +1
    Unlike
  • mcapanema:
    :'(
    +1
    Unlike
  • AkemiYousei:
    @Jaeger, Oh no! Sorry to hear. :(
    +1
    Unlike
  • AxelTheAxolotl123:
    my axolotl has white balls on its gills and the feathers have shrunk
    +1
    Unlike
  • Jasper2021:
    We have an axolotl called Jasper who is approx 3 years old. He was being attacked by his companion so we separated them. He has healed his wounds now but has got very thin. his lips have turned black. he was just looking still and dead at times but ears moved so we knew he was still alive. Hold earthworms right in front of him which after some time he will take you think good he is eating but then it pops straight out again. At the moment he is in the fridge. Not sure what else to do if he can't or won't eat !!
    +1
    Unlike
  • Wyn1993:
    Hi Jasper 2021,
    +1
    Unlike
  • Wyn1993:
    I am new to axolotls myself and one thing I learnt was that earth worms when in distress give off an awful taste - have you tried live river shrimp? Mine really like these and are always happy to 'bite' - I also give them live crickets and pellets which are really pungeant in smell and they always take these - even wait at the glass for them! So sorry to hear he was being attacked by his companion!
    +1
    Unlike
    Wyn1993: I am new to axolotls myself and one thing I learnt was that earth worms when in distress give... +1
    Top