Of Birds and Texas: A Review Essay
Of Birds and Texas. By Scott Gentling, Stuart Gentling, and John Graves.
(Fort Worth: Gentling Editions, 1986. Pp. xii + 124. Acknowledg-
ments, dedication, foreword, introduction, captions, color plates,
Those interested in the bird life of Texas have been fortunate in the
number of good books that have been published over the years, begin-
ning with the most famous of them all, John James Audubon's magnifi-
cent Birds of America (Edinburgh and London: J. J. Audubon, 1826-
1838). That splendid achievement sits at the pinnacle of natural history
publishing, "a heroic undertaking," as the English critic Sacheverell
Sitwell once commented.' It is even more treasured today for its artistic
merit than it was for its scientific contributions to ornithology when it
was first issued.
It is no accident that dozens of reviewers have been reminded of Au-
dubon's feat by Scott and Stuart Gentling's Of Birds and Texas, for the
Gentlings had Audubon and his double elephant folio publication very
much in mind when they began their work. The result merits the ref-
erence. The finished "book" is actually two linen-covered portfolios
containing 137 22 x 28 inch folio sheets of text and color plates placed
inside a handsome, linen-covered box. Among the pages are fifty-three
color plate reproductions of the Gentlings' paintings, John Grave's es-
say, "Recollections of a Texas Bird Glimpser," a foreword by Harry A.
Tennison, a Fort Worth sportsman and conservationist, and lengthy ac-
knowledgments, dedication, introduction, and captions by the Gent-
lings, all designed and hand-printed in Centaur Monotype by David
Holman at the Wind River Press in Austin. Writing in the Dallas Morn-
ing News, book critic Lee Milazzo concluded that Of Birds and Texas is
"the most magnificent book ever produced in Texas." Al Lowman of
the Institute of Texan Cultures said that he could think of "no counter-
part in southwestern printing history," and A. C. Greene, writer and
'Sacheverell Sitwell, quoted in Waldemar H. Fries, The Double Elephant Folio: The Story of Au-
dubon's Birds of America (Chicago: American Library Association, 1973), xxii.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/. Accessed March 16, 2014.