THE SPECIATION AND BIOGEOGRAPHY OF BIRDS By Ian Newton. Academic Press, Elsevier Science, London, 2003. 668 pages; black-and-white illustrations; maps, tables and figures. ISBN 0-12-517375-X. Hardback, £49.95. By any standards this book is a tour de force and represents a landmark in bird study. It is simply bursting with interesting information, and yet the approach and coverage are commendably non-trivial. With a page length of 668 ­ of which 51 are references, 31 the index, and 10 glossary ­ no-one can complain at a lack of rigour. The work, at least in part, is undeniably written with a professional ornithological readership in mind. Most of us who read BB are birders rather than ornithologists, so does the book have much to offer BB's regular readership? The answer is, undoubtedly, yes. It is lucidly written, largely free of jargon, and all you need is what most of us have: a strong curiosity about all things avian. You may not want to throw it in your rucksack to read in the hide during periods of bird inactivity (although its sole availability in hardback allows for this kind of mistreatment), but, when combined with a log fire and your favourite tipple, a whole series of wonderful winter evenings with this book are in prospect for the purchaser. Yes, even those who cannot easily distinguish dowitchers Limnodromus or separate sand plovers Charadrius will have hours of pleasure, provided they have some curiosity about bird speciation. The book is pleasingly illustrated with black-and-white sketches by

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