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Birders: Tales of a Tribe
by Mark Cocker

This book sparks widely divergent reactions. Some find it an amusing, if subtly admonitory, account of obsessive British birders whose lives revolve around traveling great distances at the drop of hat to spot some rarity. Others, especially birders with a more balanced and restrained approach to their avocation, are repelled by what they see as a glamorization of their more depraved brethren.

From personal experience, this reviewer does indeed know more than a few people who merely drift through life, shunning gainful employment, solely to have free time for birding. Many of these sad cases invest enormous amounts of ego in their ability to ID birds, while being otherwise rather maladjusted. Deliberately underemployed, some of them have drifted into near-poverty as a result of their obsession. Read purely as sociology and psychology, this book can be taken as an offbeat case study in obsessive, manic, and/or compulsive behavior.

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