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Extended Audio Sample The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession, by Mark Obmascik Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,485 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Mark Obmascik Narrator: Oliver Wyman Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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A classic in the making—an account of the biggest year in bird-watching history.

In the USA, some 50 million people lay claim to being bird-watchers or “birders,” spending billions of dollars on birding-related travel and membership fees every year. A select, and utterly obsessed, few compete in one of the world’s quirkiest contests—the race to spot the most species in North America in a single year. And 1998 wasn’t just a big year. It was the biggest. The Big Year is Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Obmascik’s account of what was to become the greatest birding year of all time.

It was freak weather conditions that ensured all previous records were broken, but what becomes clear within the pages of this classic portrait of obsession is that while our feathered friends may be the objective of the Big Year competition, it’s the curious activities and behavioral patterns of the pursuing “homo sapiens” that are the real cause for concern. It is a contest that reveals much of the human character in extremes. Such are the author’s powers of observation that he brilliantly brings to life and gets under the skin of these extraordinary, eccentric, and obsessive birders while empathizing with and eventually succumbing to the all-consuming nature of their obsession. The result is a wonderfully funny, acutely observed classic to rank alongside the best of Bill Bryson.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Selected for the Barnes & Noble Discover Award

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Tessa Eger | 2/2/2014

    " The movie has been changed, of course, but it is entertaining...worth watching. It changed my mind about visiting some of the high-traffic birding destinations. The visit to Attu, in the Aleutians, was pretty funny. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Mila | 1/14/2014

    " An entertaining look at how three bird watching fanatics chase after birds all across North America to see who can see the most birds in one year. It was a bit slow to start but as I got to know the characters I was drawn in to the story. Obmascik's writing is full of wit and hilarious at times. I heard Jack Black is going to be in the movie which was shot in Vancouver and I loved trying to figure out who he was going to play. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Louis | 1/13/2014

    " This book reminded me once again it's not a good idea to read books on subjects you're not all that interested in. It was mildly interesting to learn about the development of competitive birdwatching but I could not work up any excitement about the three birders followed in the book. The movie fictionalized the story in a time frame much better for me, two hours. This book is well-written but you need to care about the subject matter to really get anything out of it. I don't even feel like I can write about it in my blog. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kip | 12/4/2013

    " Because of this book's subject matter--birdwatching--I can't seem to persuade anyone to give this book a try. But The Big Year is much more about human behavior than avian antics. The book is filled with quirky, obsessed characters who will do almost anything to edge out their fellow birders. I found this to be one of the most delightful books I've read in recent years. The books is funny and suspenseful, even if you don't care much for birds or birders. "

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