Award-winning nature photographer Art Wolfe spent three years capturing the images in The Living Wild, a splendid volume of pictures that pays tribute to the natural world and the creatures who inhabit it. More than 140 species are offered here, including rarities like the never-before-photographed Bornean bay cat. Wolfe has a compassionate eye and, with the use of a wide-angle lens, has taken care to include each species' natural environment in his photographs. The results are miracles of composition and light. These pictures deliver not only benign pandas, furtive wolves and lanky camels, but the places where they live, from the green forests of China's Qinling Mountains to the golden dunes of the Gobi Desert.

A wealth of information on each species is included in The Living Wild. Also provided are the stories behind the shots. Authored by Wolfe himself, capsule summaries reveal how the photographer managed to capture each stunning image. Those interested in the seemingly serendipitous process that is nature photography will find the artist's anecdotes intriguing.

In addition to vibrant visuals, The Living Wild offers essays by some of the world's leading conservationists, Jane Goodall among them, who emphasize the book's underlying message of what's at stake in the new millennium: nothing less than the extinction of many of the animals depicted due to disease, overhunting and habitat destruction. While a few of Wolfe's subjects are what he calls the success stories of conservation animals like the gray whale and the bald eagle whose numbers have been nursed back to higher levels most of the creatures shown are living on an environmental edge. In the end, these timeless photographs serve as a reminder to the viewer that nature is not inexhaustible.

Art Wolfe is joined by other celebrated photographers in Wild Asia, a rich visual journey through the world's largest, most environmentally diverse continent. Asia's extent resists definition, writes naturalist Mark Brazil in the book's introduction, and the pictures that comprise this vivid volume prove him right. Focusing on a different geographical area in each chapter, Wild Asia tours the Indian Himalayas, the forests of Japan and the Russian tundra, as well as other locales. In cataloguing the creatures these landscapes support, Wolfe and company have taken pictures that distill the innocence and savagery, playfulness and brutality that make the wild what it is wild. Special features include the famously elusive Himalayan snow leopard and the world's largest lizard, southern Asia's Komodo Dragon.

Contributed by a group of renowned naturalists, Wild Asia's text is both accessible and informative, a fine complement to these first-class photographs. Without being heavy-handed, the book examines conservation issues, gently reminding readers that the natural diversity Asia offers is at the mercy of man. The companion volume to a 10-part documentary that appeared on the Discovery Channel in the fall of 2000, Wild Asia is nothing if not reverent, a breathtaking testament to a complex continent and the delicate alliance that exists there between species and environment.

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