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John James Audubon came to America as a dapper eighteen-year-old eager to make his fortune. He had a talent for drawing and an interest in birds, and he would spend the next thirty-five years traveling to the remotest regions of his new country–often alone and on foot–to render his avian subjects on paper. The works of art he created gave the world its idea of America. They gave America its idea of itself.
Here Richard Rhodes vividly depicts Audubon’s life and career: his epic wanderings; his quest to portray birds in a lifelike way; his long, anguished separations from his adored wife; his ambivalent witness to the vanishing of the wilderness. John James Audubon: The Making of an American is a magnificent achievement.
“Rhodes has managed to do for Audubon what Audubon did for birds. . . in this splendid biography Rhodes has produced nothing less than a portrait of the United States in its formative years.”
–The New York Times Book Review
“Panoramic yet intensely detailed. . . .[Rhodes] has conveyed the thrust of his subject’s imagination and the force of his movement as if painting Audubon from life.”
– San Francisco Chronicle
“Rhodes has given us the most three-dimensional portrait yet of Audubon the man.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“More than a mere biography: it is a comprehensive history of a man and his era. . . . Rhodes breathes life again into the world in which Audubon lived.”
–Los Angeles Times Book Review