The Mysterious Lands

Ann Haymond Zwinger, Author, A. H. Zwinger, Author
Ann Haymond Zwinger, Author, A. H. Zwinger, Author Dutton Books $22.5 (0p) ISBN 978-0-525-24546-9
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
Author of the prize-winning Run River Run , Zwinger has few peers in the field of nature writing, and this volume may be her finest to date. Not many will have the opportunity to explore in depth the great desert regions of the U.S.; here, Zwinger offers a compelling, vicarious experience. In the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas and New Mexico we find a ``light-absorbing, heat-inhaling landscape that translates heat into wavering light and light into shimmering heat.'' Dominant plant in the Sonoran Desert (Arizona) is the saguaro cactus; Zwinger spent six days alone in a wildlife refuge here counting bighorn sheep in June temperatures of 110-112. She discusses the physiology of water loss and intake, the adaptations needed for survival in the desert. From a plane, notes Zwinger, the Mojave Desert shows exquisite but intimidating landforms. She points out changes in plant life and explains the different systems of photosynthesis that enable desert flora to survive. The Great Basin desert, stretching from Nevada to Oregon, is mostly above 4000 ft.; it is a cold steppe desert with jackrabbits and horned larks, sagebrush and greasewood. Zwinger gives us a masterly interpretation of these mysterious lands. (Apr.)
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