Curious Minds sets out to explore the naturalists and scientists who brought Australia’s flora and fauna into the public consciousness: on the face of it a laudable aim, but one not totally fulfilled. From the title onwards the book seems confused in its aims and in its style. Is the book intended to be about people (the curious naturalists), flora and fauna (their discoveries), or both? Does it aim to provide new insights about the twenty-six selected naturalists and the culture within which they worked, or is the intent to provide a popular, even slightly scurrilous, account of the lives of selected individuals?
Peter Macinnis: Curious Minds
Curious Minds: The Discoveries of Australian Naturalists
by Peter Macinnis
National Library of Australia, $39.99 pb, 213 pp, 9780642277541
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Peter Menkhorst is a Melbourne-based zoologist specialising in mammal and bird ecology and conservation, particularly in devising recovery strategies for threatened species, and guiding their implementation. He has published extensively in both scientific and popular literature, including Mammals of Victoria (1995), a definitive book on the subject, and A Field Guide to the Mammals of Australia (2001, now in its third edition). Peter is currently part of a team preparing a new field guide to Australian birds for CSIRO Publishing.
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