Cover image for Flight maps : adventures with nature in modern America
Flight maps : adventures with nature in modern America
Price, Jennifer (Jennifer Jaye)
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Basic Books, [1999]

Physical Description:
xxii, 325 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Reading Level:
1260 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH81 .P858 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



In five sharply drawn chapters, Flight Maps charts the ways in which Americans have historically made connections--and missed connections--with nature. Beginning with an extraordinary chapter on the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon and the accompanying belligerent early view of nature's inexhaustibility, Price then moves on to discuss the Audubon Society's founding campaign in the 1890s against the extravagant use of stuffed birds to decorate women's hats. At the heart of the book is an improbable and extremely witty history of the plastic pink flamingo, perhaps the totem of Artifice and Kitsch--nevertheless a potent symbol through which to plumb our troublesome yet powerful visions of nature. From here the story of the affluent Baby-Boomers begins. Through an examination of the phenomenal success of The Nature Company, TV series such as Northern Exposure and Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and the sport-utility vehicle craze, the author ruminates on our very American, very urbanized and suburbanized needs, discontents, and desires for meaningful, yet artificially constructed connections to nature.Witty, at times even whimsical, Flight Maps is also a sophisticated and meditative archaeology of Americans' very real and uneasy desire to make nature meaningful in their lives.

Author Notes

Jennifer Price attended Princeton University and received her Ph.D. in History from Yale

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Price takes nature writing in an entirely new direction as she looks for nature in all the "wrong" places. Observing that we've forgotten that everything is part of nature, she seeks a catalyst for our view of nature as separate, right, and true. This leads to a far-ranging analysis of the deep cultural shock over the abrupt extinction of the passenger pigeon, a species once so plentiful it darkened the sky. Its demise gave rise to the first wave of environmentalism, a movement bolstered by turn-of-the-century women who formed Audubon societies to protest the rage for "bird hats." Price parses the role that gender has played in our interpretation of nature, then brings class issues into the mix in a startlingly original history of another bird species, the ubiquitous plastic pink flamingo. From there, Price contemplates the packaged nature sold in The Nature Store and nature as portrayed on television, concluding wryly that consumerism has become our most common connection to the natural world. (Reviewed May 1, 1999)0465024858Donna Seaman

Choice Review

Price clearly synthesizes historical, economic, political, and psychological factors that ultimately shape American culture and its people with regard to nature and artifice. Chapters are presented from a historical perspective: the passenger pigeon and its extinction; the use of birds and their parts to decorate women's hats; and how the synthetic pink flamingo adorned our lawns and gardens. A critical highlight of the second chapter is the documentation of women's efforts (and a few men's) to stop the slaughter of birds used for women's hat adornment. One experiences a historical journey of women cooperating, organizing, and influencing life (effective feminists existed long before the 1960s). The fourth chapter treats the motivational forces that brought natural products and concepts into our individual and collective psyche and the thousands of shopping malls across the country. The last chapter analyzes 1990s television as nature, wildlife, and remote landscapes beyond urban areas are misrepresented. The overall effect is a thought-provoking paradox: nature is inevitably distorted and distanced by intensified consumerism and products seemingly connected to nature, which is sought after almost totally through consumerism and consumption of resources. Scholarly and well researched, including 43 pages of notes and references. Illustrations, advertisements, and cartoons. Undergraduates and researchers focusing on history and interdisciplinary studies. J. N. Muzio CUNY Kingsborough Community College

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. ix
Introductionp. xv
1 Missed Connections: The Passenger Pigeon Extinctionp. 1
2 When Women Were Women, Men Were Men, and Birds Were Hatsp. 57
3 A Brief Natural History of the Plastic Pink Flamingop. 111
4 Looking for Nature at the Mall: A Field Guide to The Nature Companyp. 167
5 Roadrunners Can't Read: The Greening of Television in the 1990sp. 207
Notesp. 257
Acknowledgmentsp. 301
Indexp. 305