Stephen Moss – Mrs Moreau’s Warbler

Swallow and starling, puffin and peregrine, blue tit and blackcap. We use these names so often that few of us ever pause to wonder about their origins. What do they mean? Where did they come from? And who created them?

The words we use to name birds are some of the most lyrical and evocative in the English language. They also tell incredible stories: of epic expeditions, fierce battles between rival ornithologists, momentous historical events and touching romantic gestures.

Through fascinating encounters with birds and the rich cast of characters who came up with their names, in Mrs Moreau’s Warbler Stephen Moss takes us on a remarkable journey through time. From when humans and birds first shared the earth to our fraught present-day coexistence, Moss shows how these names reveal as much about ourselves and our relationship with the natural world as about the creatures they describe.

Author: Stephen Moss
Narrator: Stephen Moss
Duration: 9 hours 19 minutes
Released: 19 Apr 2004
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Language: English

User Review:

patrician collegiate

This was a very interesting book. I’m kind of anti-news media, since they always seem to leave you with the impression that the world is a terrible place and that everything is getting worse. This book is filled with facts that make you realize that most things are much better than they have been at any previous time in world history. It was refreshing in that regard.

However, in the middle of the book he launches a tirade against SUV’s and how wasteful and horrible they are. I was thinking, huh? Where did that come from? Most cars are more economical these days, why is he focusing on the exceptions now? It was just the beginning… He goes on to plug universal healthcare, ending poverty, class envy, and protecting the environment. All classic liberal causes. I could spend time picking apart the biased way he uses statistics to make some of his points, but I’ll leave that to you.

It dawned on me that he was using our unprecedented prosperity to shame people into solving these problems. At the same time I was objecting to where he was going, I was also asking myself, is he wrong? Well, no, these problems need solving (ignoring the hysteria around the causes). The dangerous aspect of the book is that it does not address what method should be used to solve these problems. Many people will look to government to solve the issues, which I think the dangerous aspect of this book. He makes clear points for market economics and interfering with these principles would be detrimental. In my philosophy, charity is a principle of the heart, not a government program.

Overall this is a good read and will challenge both conservatives and liberals alike, not to mention those “glass half empty” folks.