Flannery, Tim 1956- (Timothy Fridtjof Flannery)
Flannery, Tim 1956- (Timothy Fridtjof Flannery)
Born January 28, 1956, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Education: LaTrobe University, B.A., 1977; Monash University, M.Sc., 1981; University of New South Wales, Ph.D., 1985. Politics: "Policy-based." Religion: "Post-Christian." Hobbies and other interests: Historical geology, history, paleontology, mammalogy, zoogeography, reading exploration history, music and plays of the Restoration, fishing, medieval literature.
Office—South Australian Museum, North Terrace, Adelaide, South Australia 5000, Australia.
Australian Museum, Sydney, principal research scientist, 1985—.
Edgeworth David Medal, Royal Society of New South Wales, 1990; Book of the Year, The Age, 1995; South Australian Arts Festival Award, 1996; Rudi Lemberg Travelling Fellowship, Australian Academy of Science, 1996; Eureka Pol Prize, 1996, for environmental research; South Australian Premier's Literary Award, 1996; named Australian of the Year, 2007.
(With Michael Archer and Gordon Grigg) The Kangaroo, Kevin Weldon (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1985.
(With Paula Kendall) Australia's Vanishing Mammals, Reader's Digest (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1990.
(With Paula Kendall) Australia's Inland Sea, Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1992.
The Future Eaters: An Ecological History of the Australasian Lands and People, Reed (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1994, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2002.
Possums of the World: A Monograph of the Phalangeroidea, GEO Productions (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 1994.
Mammals of New Guinea, Comstock Publishing (Ithaca, NY), 1995.
Mammals of the South-West Pacific and Moluccan Islands, Comstock Publishing (Ithaca, NY), 1995.
(Editor) 1788 Watkin Tench, Text Publishing (Melbourne, Australia), 1996.
Throwim Way Leg: Fifteen Years with Trap in Hand in the New Guinea Bush, Reed, 1997, published as Throwim Way Leg: Tree-Kangaroos, Possums and Penis Gourds, Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA), 1998.
The Explorers, Text Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 1998.
(Editor and author of introduction) The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner, Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA), 1999.
(Editor) The Birth of Sydney, Grove (New York, NY), 2000.
(Editor and introducer) Two Classic Tales of Australian Exploration, Text Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2000.
(Editor) Terra Australis: Matthew Flinders's Great Adventures in the Circumnavigation of Australia, Text Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2000.
The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples, Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA), 2001.
(With Peter Schouten) A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals, Atlantic Monthly Press (New York, NY), 2001.
(Editor and introducer) The Life and Adventures of William Buckley: Thirty-Two Years a Wanderer Amongst the Aborigines of the Then UnexploredCountry Round Port Phillip, Now the Province of Victoria, Text Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2002.
Sydney Sandstone, Craftsman House (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia), 2002.
(Editor and introduction) The Birth of Melbourne, Text Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2002.
Beautiful Lies: Population and Environment in Australia, Black Ink (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2003.
(With Peter Schouten) Astonishing Animals: Extraordinary Creatures and the Fantastic Worlds They Inhabit, Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA), 2004.
The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth, Atlantic Monthly Press (Boston, MA), 2005.
Country: A Continent, a Scientist and a Kangaroo, Text Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2005.
Adelaide, Nature of a City: The Ecology of a Dynamic City From 1836 to 2036, University of Adelaide (Adelaide, South Australia, Australia), 2005.
Chasing Kangaroos: A Continent, a Scientist, and a Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Creature, Grove Press (New York, NY), 2007.
(Editor) Where Is Here? 350 Years of Exploring Australia, Text Publishing (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), 2007.
Naturalist Tim Flannery has written a number of books on the animals of Australia and New Guinea. Throwim Way Leg: Fifteen Years with Trap in Hand in the New Guinea Bush, a chronicle of his experiences while searching for new species in New Guinea, combines natural science with the adventure of exploring in an exotic land. Flannery has also edited the autobiography of John Nicol, an eighteenth-century Scottish sailor.
Throwim Way Leg began when Flannery mounted an expedition to New Guinea in search of the elusive Dingiso, an animal also known as the tree kangaroo. The creature can jump some sixty feet and is revered by many of the native tribes in New Guinea, who refuse to hunt it. While Flannery ultimately led fifteen expeditions to New Guinea, during which he found a Dingiso and some thirty other species of new animal life, his book Throwim Way Leg deals primarily with the people he met on his explorations. (The expression "Throwim way leg" in New Guinea refers to the first step when beginning a journey.) According to Lucille M. Boone in Library Journal, Flannery's account "reads like a collection of adventure stories." The critic for Publishers Weekly found that "the best parts of the book are those in which Flannery tells of his forays into remote villages. His descriptions of the indigenous peoples he met and worked with are sympathetic and often very funny." Noting that Flannery's book "offers adventure and exotica," Philip Herbst in Booklist concluded that Throwim Way Leg is "a highly readable narrative." Writing in Sierra, Rebecca Shotwell stated: "Flannery combines diligent science, heart-pounding adventure, and a respect for ancient cultures to create a compelling tale."
The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner, presents the life story of an eighteenth-century Scottish sailor who lived an adventurous life which took him around the world. During his years at sea, Nicol fought pirates and Napoleon's navy, journeyed to China, Hawaii, and the West Indies, and worked on a convict ship taking prisoners to Australia. In old age, Nicol returned home and told the story of his life to John Howell, who wrote down the tale and had it published. Flannery has edited that version, first published in 1822, and brought it to the attention of a new generation of readers. A critic for Publishers Weekly called the book "equal parts history, diary and adventure story" which "wonderfully describes what it was like to traverse the globe in one of the most tumultuous periods in human history." Jay Freeman, reviewing the title for Booklist, found it to be "wonderfully compelling."
A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals, which Flannery wrote in conjunction with illustrator Peter Schouten, provides readers with a thorough look into the world of extinction, chronicling one hundred three mammals, reptiles, and birds that have vanished since 1492. To provide the most accurate information possible, the authors read extensive records and in some cases examined skeletal remains and other physical evidence available on the various species. The book contains information about their habitats, known behavior, and suppositions regarding why they became extinct, and only animals with a verifiable background were included. As a result, readers are urged to understand that many more creatures have become extinct during the time period covered than those included in this volume. Overall, critics praised the book, though several agreed that some useful information was left out. Lynn C. Badger, in a review for Library Journal, remarked that "a little more in the way of factual data, such as probable size, would have been appreciated in some of the descriptions." Carl Zimmer, writing for Discover, commented that the work is "full of so many delightful details that you might believe for a moment that you're reading a field guide to animals still among us."
In The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples, Flannery sets out to present readers with an ambitious accounting of the history of North America's ecology from its first known point until the present—a total of sixty-five million years. He uses the metaphor of the continent as the New World discovered in 1492 by Columbus and stretches back in time, proposing that it was always something of an unknown in relation to the rest of the planet. The book includes the fall of the dinosaurs, the appearance of the first precursors to modern man, changes in climate, and a variety of other interesting facts about the continent's evolutionary process. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "Flannery displays a light touch, a keen understanding of what will interest general readers and a good sense of structure." David Quammen, writing for the New York Times Book Review, remarked that the book "persuasively illustrates why the frontier image, though tired, is so enduringly apt." In a review for Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, Brian Miller concluded that "for those who believe we should learn from our history, Tim Flannery's book is a treasure chest of information."
Astonishing Animals: Extraordinary Creatures and the Fantastic Worlds They Inhabit, again written with Peter Schouten, offers readers a look at some of the stranger, more unusual creatures sharing the planet. Many of the animals presented are considered mutations or advances in evolution and represent some of the extremes that may be found in nature. Flannery includes information about various species' evolutionary differences and Schouten provides illustrations to help bring the creatures to life. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that "Flannery's text is lively and informative, veering easily between droll descriptions and poignant warnings about disappearing habitats."
Flannery's The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth, is the result of several years of research into the concept of global warming in an attempt to determine whether the phenomenon was true or merely the exaggerated concerns of extremist environmentalists. As a skeptic himself, Flannery was interested in determining the true state of the environment and whether weather patterns were actually altering in a sufficiently dramatic way to cause irreparable harm to the planet. His research led him to believe that the climate is actually changing for the worse, and his book offers readers an explanation in layman's terms, as well as various potential scenarios based on different levels of severity. Gloria Maxwell, reviewing for Library Journal, called the book "a quick-start guide that will inspire readers to make a difference by changing their environmental behaviors." The book was well received overall, particularly given the increased awareness of the state of the environment and the need to take action to improve the situation. A contributor for Kirkus Reviews dubbed Flannery's effort "an authoritative yet accessible presentation of the scientific evidence that climate change is happening; a clear delineation of what global warming has done and could do to life on our planet." Carol Nackenoff, writing for America, remarked that Flannery's work is "at its best and most vivid when the author draws on his experience as a scientist and field biologist."
Chasing Kangaroos: A Continent, a Scientist, and a Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Creature is more than an account of the various species of kangaroos and their individual behaviors and habitats, but a look at the history of the animal's evolution from the point of view of a paleontologist. Flannery traces the origins of kangaroos, examining fossils and exploring the Australian outback, in an effort to discover where the animals originally appeared and when. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly observed that he might have been more focused in his efforts, stating that "the accounts of his discoveries are engaging, but he covers too much ground." Keir Graff, in a review for Booklist, remarked: "Written with both earthy humor and scientific precision, this book is almost as unique its subject."
Flannery once told CA: "I was named For the Norwegian polar explorer and humanitarian Fridtjof Nansen. In the tradition of nineteenth century endeavor, I would like to think I am a terror to my enemies and an ornament to my nation. Above all I should like to be considered a patriot."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
America, September 25, 2006, Carol Nackenoff, "In the Hot Seat," p. 30.
Booklist, December 15, 1998, Philip Herbst, review of Throwim Way Leg: Fifteen Years with Trap in Hand in the New Guinea Bush, p. 722; August, 1999, Jay Freeman, review of The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner, p. 2015; April 15, 2007, Keir Graff, review of Chasing Kangaroos: A Continent, a Scientist, and a Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Creature, p. 11.
Discover, December 1, 2001, Carl Zimmer, "Bidding Farewell to the Strange and Wondrous," p. 85.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005, review of The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What it Means for Life on Earth, p. 1122.
Library Journal, January, 1999, Lucille M. Boone, review of Throwim Way Leg, p. 110; October 1, 2001, Lynn C. Badger, review of A Gap in Nature: Discovering the World's Extinct Animals, p. 136; November 15, 2005, Gloria Maxwell, review of The Weather Makers, p. 92.
New York Times Book Review, May 20, 2001, David Quammen, "Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Arctostylops: A Biogeography of America, from Its Earliest Four-legged Immigrants to Its Bipedal Johnny-come-latelies," review of The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples, p. 10.
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, spring, 2002, Brian Miller, review of The Eternal Frontier.
Publishers Weekly, November 30, 1998, review of Throwim Way Leg, p. 56; September 27, 1999, review of The Life and Adventures of John Nicol, Mariner, p. 88; March 19, 2001, review of The Eternal Frontier, p. 83; September 27, 2004, review of Astonishing Animals: Extraordinary Creatures and the Fantastic Worlds They Inhabit, p. 53.
Sierra, May, 1999, Rebecca Shotwell, review of Throwim Way Leg, p. 75.