Book Review: Wild Things, Wild Places: Adventurous Tales of Wildlife and Conservation on Planet Earth

Part memoir, part call to action, Alexander's book makes an effective case for caring for our world

<i>Wild Things, Wild Places: Adventurous Tales of Wildlife and Conservation on Planet Earth</i>

Decades of Hollywood acting roles may have afforded Jane Alexander the opportunity to sustain a lifetime of adventures worth writing a book about, but it is her sincere dedication to wildlife conservation that propels the core of this lovely travelogue. What began as a childhood curiosity with sparrows evolved into a passionate desire to gulp information about every animal and its habitat, and ultimately sway public opinion toward the same. "When you fall hard for something, really fall in love, as I did with the birds," she writes, "the desire to protect it comes naturally."

Part memoir-style recollections of her incredible encounters with shamans and hyenas, part call-to-action by way of statistical research (she says scientists "are like prophets in the wilderness"), Alexander's book makes her effective case for caring. Perhaps Wild Things, Wild Places will appeal most to those who possess a somewhat vested interest in preventing a cataclysmic end of life on Earth, but regardless, the stories are entertaining enough to carry their own weight. Split into three sections, with individual chapters covering countries in every corner of the planet, the book shifts between casual, friendly storytelling and powerful, often unnerving truth bombs. Interestingly, Alexander boldly acknowledges her intentional use of capitalization to call attention to the importance of the world's many animal species, comparing the use of such grammatical effect to team names in sports stories.

The book's fiery spirit is best demonstrated in her own words: "We are the apex killer, the mammal that kills for revenge, for food, for land, for ideas, and for love. And for fun. No other creature is so versatile in killing. We have conquered the earth. But the earth is resilient. She has been around for four billion years, changing with each new onslaught, adapting to the vicissitudes of space and time, surviving chaos. The earth will survive. It is we humans who will not. And we will take down many living creatures with us. But not all. Some will survive to evolve and begin again."


Wild Things, Wild Places: Adventurous Tales of Wildlife and Conservation on Planet Earth

by Jane Alexander
Alfred A. Knopf, Borzoi Books, 352 pp., $28.95

Jane Alexander will speak about Wild Things, Wild Places in the session “The Key to Conservation,” with Miriam Horn (Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman) and moderator Julie Berwald, on Sun., Nov. 6, 2pm, in the C-SPAN 2/Book TV Tent.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Texas Book Festival
Talkin’ Chicken With Jacques Pépin at the Texas Book Festival
Talkin’ Chicken With Jacques Pépin at the Texas Book Festival
The revered culinarian’s new book showcases his paintings and stories of poultry

Melanie Haupt, Nov. 4, 2022

As Both Writer and Editor, David Levithan Is at the Heart of the Explosion of Queer YA Literature
As Both Writer and Editor, David Levithan Is at the Heart of the Explosion of Queer YA Literature
Young stories, queer voices at the Texas Book Festival

James Scott, Nov. 4, 2022

More Arts Reviews
<i>The Year That Broke Politics</i>
The Year That Broke Politics
How the 1968 election became a preview of our modern political mayhem

Jay Trachtenberg, Oct. 27, 2023

<i>The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid</i> by Lawrence Wright
The Plague Year: America in the Time of Covid
In his account of the ongoing coronavirus crisis, the New Yorker writer reports the killers are off the leash

Michael King, June 4, 2021

More by Jessi Cape
The Long Game
True-life story of Mexican-American teens who make a run at the 1957 state golf championship

April 12, 2024

SXSW Panel Discusses Promoting DEI in the Workplace
SXSW Panel Discusses Promoting DEI in the Workplace
In challenging times, supporting diversity is more critical than ever

March 14, 2024

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Texas Book Festival, Texas Book Festival 2016, Jane Alexander

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle