Synopses & Reviews
Now reissued to tie in to the 2011 major motion picture release from 20th Century Fox starring Steve Martin, Jack Black, and Owen Wilson, the critically heralded book by award-winning journalist Mark Obmascik—“a feathered version of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
” ( Outside
With engaging, unflappably wry humor, The Big Year re-creates the grand, grueling, expensive, and occasionally vicious, “extreme” 365-day contest for a new North American birdwatching record. In this thrilling real-life adventure, three men battle the daunting forces of nature—and each other—in their whirlwind 275,000-mile odyssey from Texas to British Columbia, Cape May to Alaska. One of them achieves an astonishing record unlikely ever to be bested.
A captivating tour of human and avian nature, passion and paranoia, honor and deceit, fear and loathing, The Big Year shows the lengths to which people will go to pursue their dreams, to conquer and categorize—no matter how low the stakes.
Stefan Fatsis author of Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players Red-breasted nuthatches! Himalayan snowcocks! Spotted woodpeckers! Nutting's flycatchers! The Big Year is the Gumball Rally of birding -- a rollicking, nonstop, trans-continental adventure. Mark Obmascik brings the doggedness of an investigative reporter, the grace of an accomplished storyteller, and the compassion of a fellow-traveling obsessive to this alluring quest for avian supremacy.
David Allen Sibley author of The Sibley Guide to Birds Mark Obmascik understands birders, and in this book he has ventured bravely into the fringes of the hobby to report on a sort of extreme birding: the big year. It's the best and the worst of birding in one grueling yearlong contest, and you have to admire the rare passion and dedication that a big year attempt requires. The rest of us must be content with daydreaming about it, and this book will undoubtedly be the source of many daydreams.
Jeff Corwin wildlife biologist, executive producer and host of Animal Planet's The Jeff Corwin Experience The Big Year is big fun. A rollicking, feather-ruffler of a read, this uproarious adventure of three men who flew over the cuckoo's nest in their search for avian glory will have you cawing with laughter.
Kenn Kaufman author of Kaufman Focus Guides: Birds of North America If you didn't think that a bird book could be a gripping page-turner, The Big Year will blow you away. Mark Obmascik has captured the best and the worst of birding, the euphoria and insanity of bird-chasing as an extreme sport, in this vivid, well-crafted epic.
T. R. Reid Washington Post's Rocky Mountain Bureau Chief, regular commentator on National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and author of Confucius Lives Next Door Here's a rare species: a book on birdwatching that turns out to be charming, engrossing, and educational even for people who can't tell a mudhen from a magpie. It was so much fun, I didn't want the big year to end. When it did, there was only one thing to say: "Where'd I put those binoculars?"
A rollicking, witty chronicle of the human need to conquer and categorize--in this case, every bird on the planet--no matter how low the stakes.
Every January 1, a quirky crowd storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year—a grand, expensive, and occasionally vicious 365-day marathon of birdwatching. For three men in particular, 1998 would become a grueling battle for a new North American birding record. Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities, they brave broiling deserts, bug-infested swamps, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. This unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested. Here, prizewinning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling, fun narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest— or maybe worst—birding contest of all time.
About the Author
Mark Obmascik is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist and bestselling author of The Big Year, which was made into a movie, and Halfway to Heaven. He won the 2009 National Outdoor Book Award for outdoor literature, the 2003 National Press Club Award for environmental journalism, and was lead writer for the Denver Post team that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Denver with his wife and their three sons.
Table of Contents
1. January 1, 1998
2. A Birder Is Hatched
3. The Early Birds
5. Bodega Bluff
7. El Niño
8. The Wise Owl
9. Yucatán Express
10. The Big Yak
11. The Cradle of Storms
12. The B.O.D.
16. Cape Hatteras Clincher
17. Two in the Bush
20. December 31, 1998