On Migration: Dangerous Journeys and the Living World

The great-great granddaughter of Charles Darwin, Ruth Padel brings readers an intriguing look at the vast subject of migration--the movement of birds, animals, humans, thoughts, concepts and perceptions from one time and space to another. Lives have always been in flux, from the annual flights of birds and butterflies to the movements of herd animals from one grazing ground to another to humans who have searched for food, land and freedom. On Migration intertwines poetic prose with poetry as Padel explores the "push and pull" of migration.

"The push may be escaping war or famine or a freezing winter," she elaborates. "The pull is usually safety, warmth, food or work. But whichever is uppermost, whether the travel is cyclical like swallows in spring and autumn, or once in a lifetime, migration is about survival." Juxtaposed with survival is the hope for a better life and the imagination that such a place exists. This is why, for example, Mexicans cross searing deserts, and Cubans launch into the ocean on rafts made of lashed-together chairs, to reach the United States.

Padel's essays elaborate on the concepts she empathetically writes about in her poems; the combination of the two styles enhance and enrich each other, pushing and pulling the reader toward a fuller, rounder understanding of the various forms migration takes from one species to another. --Lee E. Cart, freelance writer and book reviewer

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