In five sharply drawn chapters, Flight Maps charts the ways in which Americans have historically made connections — and missed connections — with nature. Beginning with an extraordinary chapter on the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and the accompanying belligerent early view of nature’s inexhaustibility, Price then moves on to discuss the Audubon Society’s founding campaign in the 1890s against the extravagant use of stuffed birds to decorate women’s hats. At the heart of the book is an improbable and extremely witty history of the plastic pink flamingo, perhaps the totem of Artifice and Kitsch — nevertheless a potent symbol through which to plumb our troublesome yet powerful visions of nature. From here the story of the affluent Baby-Boomers begins. Through an examination of the phenomenal success of The Nature Company, TV series such as Northern Exposure and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and the sport-utility vehicle craze, the author ruminates on our very American, very urbanized and suburbanized needs, discontents, and desires for meaningful, yet artificially constructed connections to nature. Witty, at times even whimsical, Flight Maps is also a sophisticated and meditative archaeology of Americans’ very real and uneasy desire to make nature meaningful in their lives.
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