I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway and feel fortunate to have done so. I probably wouldn’t have bought this book but now I would definitely buy it as a gift. Studying this lovely little book is a beautiful way to spend an hour.
The author/photographer, Judith Hamilton, took photos at some of the 550 sites around the world where Wildlife Conservation Society works to save wildlife and habitats. Generously, half the proceeds from this book are donated to WCS to help them with their work. Hamilton is a photographer of some renown. Her photographs have been featured at Google world headquarters for six months and a permanent exhibit hangs at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation.
Hamilton has combined words of wisdom with intimate and arresting photographs of animals. There is a quote on the left page and a photo that inspired it on the right. For example, the book begins with a quote from Victor Hugo. “The supreme happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved.” On the right we see beautiful eagles in their nest, a young eaglet resting his beak on the adult and gazing with loving eyes.
Some are humorous. “All for one and one for all. United we stand in divided we fall.” Alexander Dumas. The photograph is three turtles, each leaning on the one in front as they struggle over a log above a muddy river.
Some are inspiring. “On matters of style, swim with the current. On matters of principle, stand like a rock.” Thomas Jefferson. This quote is inspired by a magnificent tiger haunch deep in water.
Some are endearing. “What does she want him for when she has me?” Baboons (I apologize if that’s the wrong species) cluster together. A mother holds a tiny infant on her lap while an older sibling anxiously looks on.
What hits you when you look at these photographs is the immense difference in the lives of animals compared to ours. What also hits you is how similar they are in emotion, need, relationships, and vulnerability.
The photographs make you pause in wonderment examining each feather, spot, and hair. Hamilton has captured animals in the most amazing situations, sleeping, nursing their young, fighting, dancing, playing, and stalking. Her courage, in the face of some rather powerful predators, is laudable.
This is not just a book wherein one dwells on the beauty and struggle of wild creatures. The combination of quote and picture provide a connection that gives one pause. Some quotes are attributed to Plato, Mark Twain, Patti Smith and Confucius. Some are not identified and these, I assume are Hamilton’s thoughts. All are worthy of consideration.