If you had canoed in July of 1673 with Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet - the first Europeans known to have visisted the Chicago region - you would have passed through a landscape harbouring a biological richness in some ways unsurpassed anywhere else on the planet. Poised on the fertile broderlands where hardwood forests met tallgrass prairies, and rivers and streams meandered through expansive wetlands and into vast lakes, the area teemed with wildlife. In the sweeping "A Natural History of the Chicago Region", Joel Greenberg takes you on a journey that begins with these European explorers and settlers and hasn't ended yet. Along the way he introduces you to the physical forces that have shaped the area from southeastern Wisconsin to northern Indiana and Berrien country in Michigan; the various habitat types present in the region and how European settlement has affected them; and the insects, reptiles and amphibians, birds, fish and mammals found in them, then amidst the settlers and now amidst the skyscrapers.
This is a fascinating story told with humour and passion, of forests battling prairies for dominance; of prairies ploughed, wetlands drained, and species driven extinct in the settlement of the Midwest; and of caring conservationists fighting to preserve and restore the native plants and animals. Intermingling period quotes from early settlers and naturalists with current scientific information, Greenberg places the natural history of the region in human context, showing how it affects our everyday existence in even the most urbanized landscapes. Charming, compelling and compassionate, "A Natural History of the Chicago Region" has much to offer historians, as well as any fan of natural history, from birders, hikers and paddlers to restorationists and ecologists.