Picks and Pans Review: On the Road with John James Audubon

updated 07/14/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/14/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Mary Durant and Michael Harwood

Audubon, the great naturalist and artist, traveled extensively on this continent before he died at 65 in 1851. Obsessed by his work, he married, but left his wife and two sons at home. He recounted his experiences in a stream of letters to them and in detailed journals. The authors of this book spent 13 months following in Audubon's tracks from Labrador to the Florida Keys to North Dakota, keeping their own journals. The result, which includes photographs and illustrations both old and new, is a joy. Durant (Mrs. Harwood in private life) is a novelist; Harwood is a journalist and ornithologist. They quote a lot of marvelous stuff from Audubon himself, and "as the weeks passed," they write, "we found ourselves living in tandem with him, tumbling headlong into the emotional connection that can hold a biographer for years—a lifetime." It's reading for a shady spot on the lawn. (Dodd, Mead, $19.95)

From Our Partners