This is a review of Wild Cats Of The World, a book, by Mel Sunquist and Fiona Sunquist. This is a relatively compact book for what is effectively an encyclopaedia. The paper quality is high (glossy and bright) and acid free (for a long life). It is heavy as a result but not unpleasantly so. There are 452 pages.
The authors have gone to great lengths to create a book that covers all that is known or not known at the wildcats of the world as at the date of publication, 2002. Remember, the world of wild cats is moving fast in the wrong direction (for the wild cat) so some information may be slightly out of date such as recognised range (distribution). On some occasions this is liable to have shrunk since the date of publication. Despite that this is unquestionably the best book in the world on wildcats.
Mel Sunquist is listed as Program Director Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation at the University of Florida, Box 110430, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 846-0566 (as at June 2009). He is widely published. Other books are:
- Sunquist, M. E. and F. C. Sunquist. 2002. Wild Cats of the World.
Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press. 452 pp.
- Sunquist, F. C., M. E. Sunquist & L. Beletsky. 2002.
Florida: The Ecotravelers’ Wildlife Guide. London: Academic Press. 532 pp.
- Sunquist, F. C. and M. E. Sunquist. 1988. Tiger Moon.
Chicago: Univ. Chicago Press. 187 pp.
He has written many Selected Journal, Book Chapters and Symposium Publications as well.
Fiona Sunquist, was, at the time of publication of Wild Cats Of The World, an editor for International Wildlife Magazine. I couldn’t see a clear confirmation that this magazine is still running on an internet search.
They make a formidable couple. Although this book is described as an encyclopaedia it is written in a very readable manner. The detail is impressive and it is a labour of love, which is what makes it the best.
I can find very little to to say against it. People looking for masses of large format colour pictures of cats might be disappointed as it is mainly words and information but each wild cat of the world is illustrated in a large format black and white photograph next to the information about the cat. I wonder why colour wasn’t used for these photographs? Cost probably but I think that was a mistake as colour photography provides information. However colour photographs of the cats are in a group in the middle of the book. In that sense it is a bit old fashioned but all the better for it. No froth just finely researched facts.
The authors take a neutral stance, it seems to me, on conservation. Well, if not neutral, in my opinion more emphasis could have been made. So, perhaps if I was to criticize, for me, it could be a little more outspoken against the persecution of the wild cats and the loss of habitat. And they use the word “harvest”, a euphemism for killing large numbers of cats for commercial reasons as if they are wheat. I personally hate that word. Wild cats should not longer be harvested. That time is over as it is for tuna and whales (at June 2009).
In this review of Wild Cats Of The World, I would highly recommend it; a truly fine book. You can read selected parts of it on Google books (new window). It cost £30.99 at Amazon UK and $29.70 in the USA.