The Big Year – Reviews


Riveting… The Big Year combines the best of adventure tales, mystery writing, and nature narratives, and even readers who are not birders will soon find themselves cheering the competition on.
– Los Angeles Times

A most compelling tale. This is a bird book for the masses… Their chase is entertaining and wonderfully retold.
– Chicago Tribune

Superlative… ebulliently wonderful… The suspense ratchets up, and Obmascik’s considerable skill is to make these men so real in their quests, so admirably alive, that in the end who wins the contest is almost beside the point… Because the true subject here is the human spirit – and all the impossible, incredible, and wondrous things we do and endure for our beloved passions.
– Boston Globe

A feathered version of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
– Outside Magazine

Should quash once and for all the dusty image of birdwatchers as tweed-skirted Miss Marple types enthralled by a flittering titmouse. Obmascik’s hugely entertaining account… reveals the extreme-sport flip side of a normally meditative pastime.
– San Francisco Chronicle

What a winner it is… The writing is swift and compelling, the stories amazing.
– National Geographic Adventure

A well-told, informative, and suspenseful account of high-octane birding that even those (like this reviewer) who don’t know a finch from a fork-tailed flycatcher can enjoy.
– Los Angeles Daily News

The book’s attraction for birders and watchers of all stripes is easily clear, but for those unfamiliar with the sport, the question soon arises: Why should the story of three men racing to secure bragging rights to seeing the greatest variety of birds in a single year be so compelling? Because, at its heart, this nonfictional narrative is a fabulous story about persistence.
– The Denver Post

[This] Orchid Thief-like [book] is a real kick – as much for people who use bird as a verb as for folks who don’ t know a chuck-will’s-widow from a whiskered auklet. [Grade:] A.
– Entertainment Weekly (Editor’s Choice)

Obmascik cleverly paints an amusing tale… An award-winning environmental writer, [he] is adept at describing these treasures of the landscape, El Nino, the desert and amazing feats of migration.
– The Miami Herald

Obmascik’s story-telling is excellent… The Big Year is as easy to read as a page-turner novel, but more meaningful for those of us who enjoy birding at whatever level of obsession.
– Bird Watcher’s Digest

Through interviews and fieldwork and compelling storytelling ability, [Obmascik] has imbued the tale with a riveting immedicacy.
– Sun-Sentinel (South Florida)

If you think birdwatching is a fuddy-duddy hobby reserved for eccentric seniors in unattractive hats, Mark Obmascik will change your mind. The Big Year… is about what happens when a childhood passion for birds is mixed up with a good dose of testosterone, yielding an extreme sport that turns regular men (and they are almost always men) into white-knuckle birders.
– National Post (Canada)

Interwoven tales, rife with rugged adventure, humorous high jinks and adrenaline-stoked competitiveness of the highest order, lend entertaining perspective to a wildly popular and widely misunderstood pursuit.
– Chicago Sun-Times

One of the great pleasures of reading is encountering a subject that you cannot imagine embracing, then finding that the writer who’s exploring that subject has been able to intrigue you… [The Big Year] has reminded me that people who are fascinated by something can be extraordinarily interesting, even to those of us who don’t share the particular fascination.
– National Public Radio’s Only a Game

As in similar tales of obsession – think: The Orchid Thief… in its own edge-of-sanity way, The Big Year is a compelling adventure.
– Time Out, New York

Obmascik deftly weaves… three characters’ stories so that the narrative has the feel of a horserace… His style is restrained but lively.
– The Weekly Standard

Amid nail-biting fluctuations in money, determination and the fickle temperament of El Nino on the birders, Obmascik reveals the quirky idiosyncrasies that make this subculture tick… [The Big Year] manages to be funny, fast-paced and engaging the entire way through – whether you’re in it for the flesh-footed shearwater and fork-tailed flycatcher or the equally fascinating specimens who dedicate a whole year to finding them.
– The Oregonian

With a blend of humor and awe, Obmascik takes the reader into the heart of competitive birding, and in the process turns everyone into birders.
– Booklist

An entertaining book… Obmascik keeps the reader guessing in this fun account of a whirlwind pursuit of birding fame.
– Publishers Weekly

The Big Year is just big fun. Plus, it lets us dream of ditching our everyday lives for a year.
– Rocky Mountain News

Serious birders will welcome this in-depth look at the year an extraordinary 745 species were spotted. As for me (a backyard birder) I flew through it.
– San Antonio Express-News

Mark Obmascik trains a humorous eye on the intense and sometimes kooky world of competitive birding.
– Reader’s Digest (Editor’s Choice)

Quirky birders make great book subjects, especially when they’re on a mission. Mark Obmascik takes advantage of the all-consuming drive of three birders to record in minute and sometimes hilarious detail their attempts in 1998 to set a new record for the number of species seen in North America in a single year… [A] lively book.
– Audubon Magazine

Entertaining for birders and non-birders alike… A compelling and amusing look at a relatively small segment of the population – one that draws its inspiration from nature.
– Boulder Daily Camera

Enjoyable chronicled… Obmascik will light a tinderbox of bird lust in unsuspecting readers who have never given a thought to ‘LeConte’s thrasher, a notoriously elusive soil-digger of the saltbush desert.’ You’ll gladly add this one to your own list – of surprisingly good books.
– Kirkus Reviews

Obsessives make interesting characters, and this is a vastly readable book told in lively journalistic prose… [Obmascik] has managed to produce a very readable field guide to a strange and obsessive flock.
– Christian Science Monitor

Obmascik combines his passion for bird-watching with his gift for captivating reporting… [His] crispt journalistic prose is as simple and clear as air, and it’s perfect for the story he tells.
– New York Sun