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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Becoming Wild

Becoming Wild

How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace

Carl Safina

Henry Holt and Co.

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"In this superbly articulate cri de coeur, Safina gives us a new way of looking at the natural world that is radically different."The Washington Post

New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina brings readers close to three non-human cultures—what they do, why they do it, and how life is for them.

Some people insist that culture is strictly a human feat. What are they afraid of? This book looks into three cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth’s remaining wild places. It shows how if you’re a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too experience your life with the understanding that you are an individual in a particular community. You too are who you are not by genes alone; your culture is a second form of inheritance. You receive it from thousands of individuals, from pools of knowledge passing through generations like an eternal torch. You too may raise young, know beauty, or struggle to negotiate a peace. And your culture, too, changes and evolves. The light of knowledge needs adjusting as situations change, so a capacity for learning, especially social learning, allows behaviors to adjust, to change much faster than genes alone could adapt.

Becoming Wild offers a glimpse into cultures among non-human animals through looks at the lives of individuals in different present-day animal societies. By showing how others teach and learn, Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is constantly going on beyond humanity. With reporting from deep in natur… More…

"In this superbly articulate cri de coeur, Safina gives us a new way of looking at the natural world that is radically different."The Washington Post

New York Times bestselling author Carl Safina brings readers close to three non-human cultures—what they do, why they do it, and how life is for them.

Some people insist that culture is strictly a human feat. What are they afraid of? This book looks into three cultures of other-than-human beings in some of Earth’s remaining wild places. It shows how if you’re a sperm whale, a scarlet macaw, or a chimpanzee, you too experience your life with the understanding that you are an individual in a particular community. You too are who you are not by genes alone; your culture is a second form of inheritance. You receive it from thousands of individuals, from pools of knowledge passing through generations like an eternal torch. You too may raise young, know beauty, or struggle to negotiate a peace. And your culture, too, changes and evolves. The light of knowledge needs adjusting as situations change, so a capacity for learning, especially social learning, allows behaviors to adjust, to change much faster than genes alone could adapt.

Becoming Wild offers a glimpse into cultures among non-human animals through looks at the lives of individuals in different present-day animal societies. By showing how others teach and learn, Safina offers a fresh understanding of what is constantly going on beyond humanity. With reporting from deep in nature, alongside individual creatures in their free-living communities, this book offers a very privileged glimpse behind the curtain of life on Earth, and helps inform the answer to that most urgent of questions: Who are we here with?

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FAMILIES

ONE


Such harmony is in immortal souls;… we cannot hear it.

—William Shakespeare

At eight a.m. we are already traveling over deep ocean. We’re at what’s called sea level, as though an ocean is solely...

Praise for Becoming Wild

"[Safina] turns the human view of animal cultures on its head. . . . Luminous. . . . Becoming Wild demands that we wake up and realize that we are intrinsically linked to our other-than-human neighbors."
The Telegraph (UK)

“Combining the knowledge of a seasoned scientist with the skills of a good storyteller, Safina invites us to leave our cultural worlds and enter animals’ ones. . . . Becoming Wild deserves to be remembered.”
—NPR

“[Safina] shows us something too often overlooked in research and in conservation: who animals are, and how they live. . . . [And] it’s the stories of Safina’s days with these animals that move us.”
The New York Times

“Engaging and eye-opening. . . . Safina’s enthusiasm for the animal kingdom is contagious, and his clear writing makes his wide-reaching subject both approachable and tangible.”
Shelf Awareness (starred review)

"Safina's lovely account of his travels with researchers . . . reveals majestic, closely knit communities. . . . And few readers will doubt that these magnificent creatures need urgent attention. Enthralling."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[A] bracing and enlightening book. . . . Safina’s writing on the watery depths and its denizens is sublime . . . [challenging] us to be more acutely aware of species whose social lives have much to teach us.”
Science

“Full of rich observations . . . Becoming Wild offers readers a window into the complex and curious lives of the three species it depicts and invi… More…

"[Safina] turns the human view of animal cultures on its head. . . . Luminous. . . . Becoming Wild demands that we wake up and realize that we are intrinsically linked to our other-than-human neighbors."
The Telegraph (UK)

“Combining the knowledge of a seasoned scientist with the skills of a good storyteller, Safina invites us to leave our cultural worlds and enter animals’ ones. . . . Becoming Wild deserves to be remembered.”
—NPR

“[Safina] shows us something too often overlooked in research and in conservation: who animals are, and how they live. . . . [And] it’s the stories of Safina’s days with these animals that move us.”
The New York Times

“Engaging and eye-opening. . . . Safina’s enthusiasm for the animal kingdom is contagious, and his clear writing makes his wide-reaching subject both approachable and tangible.”
Shelf Awareness (starred review)

"Safina's lovely account of his travels with researchers . . . reveals majestic, closely knit communities. . . . And few readers will doubt that these magnificent creatures need urgent attention. Enthralling."
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“[A] bracing and enlightening book. . . . Safina’s writing on the watery depths and its denizens is sublime . . . [challenging] us to be more acutely aware of species whose social lives have much to teach us.”
Science

“Full of rich observations . . . Becoming Wild offers readers a window into the complex and curious lives of the three species it depicts and invites [us] to observe the beauty and joy of each species’s nuances.”
BookPage

“[A journey into] the wonder of life itself. . . . Becoming Wild is a warm and beckoning paean to our natural world.”
The East Hampton Star

“Seminal. . . . By drawing attention to the importance of regional variation and acculturated behavior, Safina raises important issues for environmentalists.”
Natural History

"Eloquent. . . . This revelatory work sheds as much light on what it means to be human as it does on the nature of other species."
Publishers Weekly

Praise for Carl Safina

“Dr. Safina is a terrific writer, majestic and puckish in equal measure, with a contagious enthusiasm. . . . He draws out haunting resonances between animal lives and our own. . . . Captivating.”
The New York Times

“[Safina] felicitously combines lambent writing with dazzling facts . . . illuminating our knowledge of significant and engaging subjects.”
The Washington Post

“Brilliant . . . Each of Safina’s beautifully limned animal portraits is the weight of human influence and a challenge to exercise the power of empathy. . . . [Safina] is a font of research, his wonder contagious.”
Elle

“Safina’s engaging writing takes readers along on his journey, so that we learn about these creatures as he does. . . . His adventures with researchers observing wild animals in the field are fascinating . . . entertaining, and informative.”
Slate

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Reviews from Goodreads

Carl Safina

Carl Safina's work has been recognized with MacArthur, Pew, and Guggenheim Fellowships, and his writing has won Orion, Lannan, and National Academies literary awards as well as the John Burroughs, James Beard, and George Rabb medals. Safina is founding president of the not-for-profit Safina Center. He hosted the 10-part PBS series Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina. His books include Beyond Words, Song for the Blue Ocean, and The Eye of the Albatross. He lives on Long Island, New York.

image of Carl Safinao
Patricia Paladines