America's Snake: The Rise And Fall Of The Timber Rattlesnake

Hardcover | May 12, 2016

byTed Levin

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There’s no sound quite like it, or as viscerally terrifying: the ominous rattle of the timber rattlesnake. It’s a chilling shorthand for imminent danger, and a reminder of the countless ways that nature can suddenly snuff us out.
 
Yet most of us have never seen a timber rattler. Though they’re found in thirty-one states, and near many major cities, in contemporary America timber rattlesnakes are creatures mostly of imagination and innate fear.
 
Ted Levin aims to change that with America’s Snake, a portrait of the timber rattlesnake, its place in America’s pantheon of creatures and in our own frontier history—and of the heroic efforts to protect it against habitat loss, climate change, and the human tendency to kill what we fear. Taking us from labs where the secrets of the snake’s evolutionary history are being unlocked to far-flung habitats whose locations are fiercely protected by biologists and dedicated amateur herpetologists alike, Levin paints a picture of a fascinating creature: peaceable, social, long-lived, and, despite our phobias, not inclined to bite. The timber rattler emerges here as emblematic of America and also, unfortunately, of the complicated, painful struggles involved in protecting and preserving the natural world.
 
A wonderful mix of natural history, travel writing, and exemplary journalism, America’s Snake is loaded with remarkable characters—none more so than the snake at its heart: frightening, perhaps; endangered, certainly; and unquestionably unforgettable.

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From the Publisher

There’s no sound quite like it, or as viscerally terrifying: the ominous rattle of the timber rattlesnake. It’s a chilling shorthand for imminent danger, and a reminder of the countless ways that nature can suddenly snuff us out.   Yet most of us have never seen a timber rattler. Though they’re found in thirty-one states, and near many...

A former Bronx Zoo zoologist, Ted Levin is the author of Blood Brook: A Naturalist’s Home Ground, Backtracking: The Way of the Naturalist, and Liquid Land: A Journey through the Everglades, which won the Burroughs Medal in 2004. He has written for Sports Illustrated, Audubon, National Wildlife, National Geographic Traveler, and other p...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:520 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.4 inPublished:May 12, 2016Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022604064X

ISBN - 13:9780226040646

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Etymology

Prologue

1 An Introduction to Crotalus horridus

Part One Egress: The Dangers of Leaving Home

2 A Quirky Subculture                                                      

3 Quasimodo in the Blue Hills

4 Live Free or Die

5 Zero at the Bone

6 A Long, Muscular Tube

Interlude: High Summer: On the Trail with Timber Rattlesnakes

7 The Dangers of Being Male

8 The Dangers of Being Female

9 A Commodity of Rattlesnakes: Snakes Today, Bibles Tomorrow

Part Two Ingress: The Dangers of Coming Home

10 Chaos of Rocks

11 Among Rattlesnakes

12 Into the Abyss

13 The Very Last Rattlesnake

Epilogue: The Ambiguous World of the Timber Rattlesnake

Acknowledgments
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

"'Are you crazy?,' they kept asking. No, because Ted Levin was going to be with me as I walked among rattlesnakes placidly heading for their bouldery den-site among the fallen leaves of autumn (was I crazy?). Everything about them was surprising: their docility, their beauty--and how knowledgeably Ted loved them. His writing shows how much we can see when we open up and look, how much there is to be awed by, even in creatures we most fear. This is a deep, wise book that delivers way more than you’d expect. You'll begin reading about a legless being almost universally dreaded and reviled. And you’ll come away snake-charmed and enchanted by the sacred improbability of the living world."