Reviews elsewhere on the web:
Sophisticated Dorkiness
Asian Review of Books
Poornima Apte
Tom Williams
Andrew Tokash

Mark Obmascik

The Big Year

Some people can get pretty obsessive about their hobbies, but there can be few who compare with the three birdwatchers described by Mark Obmascik in The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession

The 'Big Year' is an attempt to see as many species as possible in the North American continent within a calendar year. In 1998 three birdwatchers decided to go for it. Sandy Komito, the holder of the record, businessman Al Levantin, and computer programmer Greg Miller. Obmascik tells the history of the Big Year - how the challenge of seeing all 675 native bird species was surpassed and it became a case of seeking out rarities. This might mean flying across the continent at a moments notice, so it's not a cheap enterprise, and Miller had to struggle to earn (and borrow) enough to keep up. We hear of how the each of the three men eventually realised that they weren't the only one going for it, and the competition that ensued. But there could only be one winner, setting a record that is unlikely to be beaten - not only was 1998 a bumper year due to birds being blown off course, but many of the birds were seen on the island of Attu, which is now off limits.

It's a well written book, and whether you're into birdwatching or not I think that you'll enjoy reading about the challenge of becoming number one.

Amazon.com info
Paperback 268 pages  
ISBN: 0743245466
Salesrank: 188794
Weight:0.55 lbs
Published: 2005 Atria Books
Amazon price $11.12
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Amazon.co.uk info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 0553815512
Salesrank: 2526185
Weight:0.49 lbs
Published: 2005 Bantam
Marketplace:New from £286.99:Used from £0.01
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Amazon.ca info
Paperback 320 pages  
ISBN: 0553815512
Salesrank: 3562297
Weight:0.49 lbs
Published: 2005 Bantam Books (Transworld Publishers a division of the Random House Group)
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 132.77:Used from CDN$ 2.78
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Product Description
Every January 1, a quirky crowd storms out across North America for a spectacularly competitive event called a Big Year -- a grand, expensive, and occasionally vicious 365-day marathon of birdwatching. For three men in particular, 1998 would become a grueling battle for a new North American birding record. Bouncing from coast to coast on frenetic pilgrimages for once-in-a-lifetime rarities, they brave broiling deserts, bug-infested swamps, and some of the lumpiest motel mattresses known to man. This unprecedented year of beat-the-clock adventures ultimately leads one man to a record so gigantic that it is unlikely ever to be bested. Here, prize-winning journalist Mark Obmascik creates a dazzling, fun narrative of the 275,000-mile odyssey of these three obsessives as they fight to win the greatest -- or maybe worst -- birding contest of all time.