The Big Year

Version: Abridged
Author: Mark Obmascik
Narrator: Oliver Wyman
Genres: Non-Fiction, Science & Technology, Animals & Nature
Publisher: Random House (Audio)
Published In: February 2004
# of Units: 5 CDs
Length: 6 hours
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A classic in the making -- an account of the biggest year in birdwatching history.

In the USA, some 50 million people lay claim to being bird-watchers or "birders," spending billions of dollars on birding-related travel and membership fees every year. A select, and utterly obsessed, few compete in one of the world's quirkiest contests -- the race to spot the most species in North America in a single year. And 1998 wasn't just a big year. It was the biggest. The Big Year is Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Obmascik's account of what was to become the greatest birding year of all time.

It was freak weather conditions that ensured all previous records were broken, but what becomes clear within the pages of this classic portrait of obsession is that while our feathered friends may be the objective of the Big Year competition, it's the curious activities and behavioural patterns of the pursuing "homo sapiens" that are the real cause for concern. It is a contest that reveals much of the human character in extremes. Such are the author's powers of observation that he brilliantly brings to life and gets under the skin of these extraordinary, eccentric and obsessive birders while empathizing with and eventually succumbing to the all-consuming nature of their obsession. The result is a wonderfully funny, acutely observed classic to rank alongside the best of Bill Bryson.

Reviews (2)


Written by Anonymous on August 23rd, 2009

  • Book Rating: 3/5

As a bird 'enthusiast', definitely not a 'birder', I found it a bit redundant. The beginning of the book recounts the various players and their backgrounds--very interesting. But the actual search for the individual birds seemed to be the same thing over and over. But still a pleasant story.

The Big Year

Written by KViz on October 5th, 2006

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I loved this book. As an avid birder who doesn't get into the field as much as I would like, I found this to be a pretty good substitute for the experience. Really enjoyed it!

Author Details

Author Details

Obmascik, Mark

Mark Obmascik is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and bestselling author of The Big Year, which was made into a movie, and Halfway to Heaven. He won the 2009 National Outdoor Book Award for outdoor literature, the 2003 National Press Club Award for environmental journalism, and was lead writer for the Denver Post team that won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Denver with his wife and their three sons.