Cover image for Remains of a rainbow : rare plants and animals of Hawai'i
Remains of a rainbow : rare plants and animals of Hawai'i
Liittschwager, David.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : National Geographic Society, [2001]

Physical Description:
263 pages : color illustrations ; 32 cm
General Note:
"In association with Environmental Defense, with the assistance of National Tropical Botanical Garden & the Nature Conservancy of Hawai'i.


Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH76.5.H3 L55 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



PART OF NEW NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC INSIGHT SERIES featuring breathtaking photographic retrospectives by individual photographers on a variety of subjects. Liittschwager and Middleton began photographing endangered plants and animals of North America with a desire to introduce them to people who otherwise would not come into contact with them. A powerful message of their previous work was that these creatures are being pushed out of existence even before being seen by the people who will ultimately determine their fate. They are statistics rather than living beings with faces, unique characteristics, and beauty. Liittschwager and Middleton have sought to give these animals and plants a vivid presence and raise public awareness of their plight. Recognizing that life of any kind is intrinsically elegant and endlessly intriguing, their work focused on a deepening interest in native species which have evolved and adapted to their habitats over millions of years, quintessential expressions of the places where they live. This led them to Hawaii, one of the biologically richest places on earth, and one of the most threatened.Their work there highlights species which are new discoveries (not yet known to science) or rediscoveries (thought to be extinct), working closely with internationally known field biologists. The collection of photographs that have resulted from these years of involvement, encompass the spectacular array of life forms endemic to the Hawaiian Islands. Beyond the portraiture of individual species which forms the heart and soul of the book, are illustrations of rare native habitats - intact ecosystems where plants and animals still live in healthy relationship to one another, creating spectacular assemblages of multiple organisms resembling magic gardens. Fragile as they are remote, often situated high in the mountains on razorback ridges, on steep cliffs, and isolated densely vegetated valleys, their inaccessibility has helped protect them from damage yet also meant that few people will ever have the opportunity to experience them directly. The richness and value of these native places can now be appreciated through these photographs.Together these powerful and elegant photographs and text will link to tell a story - of the rare creatures of the world, of habitats in the wild, of the human cultural practices and alien invaders that threaten their survival, and the people devoted to their preservation.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Hawaii is home to the richest and most diverse collection of island flora and fauna on Earth--in fact, it has been said that more species have been lost from this island chain in the last 200 years than from the entire North American continent since Columbus made landfall. New species are still being discovered, even as other species's existence hangs by a mere thread. In glorious color, Liittschwager and Middleton's wildlife photographs show plants and animals teetering on the brink of extinction. They follow botanists as they rappel down sheer cliffs to pollinate rare plants whose pollinators are extinct or to collect specimens and seeds for propagation in botanical gardens. They are present at the discovery of new species, and their photographs become the first recording of these species. In fantastic close-ups, rare plants shimmer against black or white backgrounds (their trademark style) or are seen in situ; a portrait of a bat reveals cowlicked thick fur; honeycreeper finches show off their multitude of bill shapes; and caterpillars feed on leaves. Vignettes show the photographers at work, and the text provides both the ecological background for the rarity of Hawaii's living things as well as the travails of documenting them. Species profiles at the end give biological and photographic details for each portrait. This magnificent collection from our fiftieth state is highly recommended for all libraries. --Nancy Bent

Library Journal Review

The authors, who have worked with endangered species in their previous photographic work, Witness (Chronicle, 1994), here turn their cameras to Hawaii, home to over a quarter of the specimens on the U.S. Endangered Species List. As in Witness, they present most of their photographs in the form of stunning portraits of individual specimens against a stark black background. Each animal or plant appears almost jewellike in perfection of form or color. Some, like a pair of grinning monk seals or an inquisitive thrush, are playful as well. Over 140 portraits are presented, as are some scenes of unique terrain such as the Silversword Bog and the top of Mauna Kea. Brief articles detail the natural history of the islands, changes wrought by humans and introduced species, and the struggle to preserve fragile species. A foreword by the poet W.S. Merwin, who lives in Hawaii, and an afterword by Environmental Defense Fund Senior Ecologist David S. Wilcove round out the volume. An exhibition based on this book will travel to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC, the Honolulu Academy of Arts, and other locations in the United States. Despite the price tag, this is an important book for both conservation and photography collections. Recommended for most libraries. Beth Clewis Crim, Prince William P.L., VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.