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Three good ones, ranging from fishing to beavers to saving of our open space

The big outdoor book of the season is McClane's Standard Fishing Encyclopedia and International Angling Guide, edited by A. J. McClane, fishing editor of Field & Stream, and published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston at $19.95. This literally is a big book: it weighs five and a half pounds, about as much as a lunker bass, and the entries range alphabetically from Aawa, the Hawaiian name for the black-spot wrasse, to zooplankton. All told, there are 1,057 pages crammed with information and excellent drawings and photographs. Back in 1951, McClane edited The Wise Fishermen's Encyclopedia, but his new book far surpasses that effort, good as it was. The new encyclopedia is easily the best all-purpose reference work on angling, whether one fishes for sunnies, char, swordfish or marlin.

The work is so all encompassing that no man could have written it himself, and McClane was assisted by 139 other authorities. For instance, the flies shown in color were largely tied by Harry and Elsie Darbee, usually acknowledged as the best flytiers in the country, if not the world. Besides entries on standard subjects, the book also boasts extensive articles on freshwater and marine ecology. There are excellent entries on mayflies and stoneflies, written with clarity of style and enhanced by easily discernible drawings. This is the sort of stuff the average angler can never find anywhere else, unless he takes the trouble to consult scientific works, usually overloaded with the technical jargon of the specialist and illustrated with baffling keys to species. McClane's Standard Fishing Encyclopedia also has first-rate life histories offish that could conceivably be of interest to any angler. To get as much detail elsewhere, one would have to resort to a study such as Bigelow and Schroeder's Fishes of the Gulf of Maine.

The encyclopedia totals nearly a million words, but careful spot checking reveals only a few omissions and errors. The entry on New York notes sundry lakes, ponds and streams but brushes off the Hudson. On page 220 the sketches of the damselfly and dragonfly nymphs and adults are transposed, and in the bibliography the fourth edition of James G. and Paul R. Needham's A Guide to the Study of Fresh-water Biology, published in Ithaca, N.Y. in 1938, is cited, whereas an up-to-date reference should cite the fifth edition, revised and enlarged, published in San Francisco in 1962. But this is quibbling. How many other fishing books give such an exhaustive bibliography? The answer is few, and there is no other single work that can match McClane's Standard Fishing Encyclopedia in scope. Next to a rod and a license, this book is a must for the serious fisherman. Indeed, it is more than a book—it is an achievement.

Before the white man settled North America, there were an estimated 60 million beavers in the U.S. By 1900 the beaver was almost extinct. In the rugged wilds of the Adirondacks there were only a dozen, and they were the only beavers surviving in all of New York state. Now, as the result of restocking and protective laws, the beaver is beginning to flourish, enough anyway to have prompted Leonard Lee Rue III to have written The World of the Beaver for J. B. Lippincott's Living World series. This series, still under way, began four years ago under the editorship of John K. Terres, formerly of the National Audubon Society, and so far books have dealt with the worlds of the raccoon, the white-tailed deer (both also by Rue), the coyote and bobcat (by Joe Van Wormer), the red-tailed hawk and great horned owl (by G. Ronald Austing). For anyone who wants to know about the habits of wild animals, particularly animals that can live in close proximity to man, these books are very good indeed. Each book is priced at $4.95 and is divided between text and black-and-white photographs. The pictures are first-rate and to the point, and the text traces the life of the animal under discussion through the seasons of the year. There is, thanks be, no self-conscious "nature writing of the crimson-sunset school." The various authors let the facts speak for themselves, and it is obvious they know their facts.

In order for animals and man to thrive open space is essential, and that is the subject of a new book, Stewardship, by Charles E. Little and Robert L. Burnap. Although the authors arc mainly concerned with the need for open space within the 22 counties comprising and surrounding New York City, Stewardship is highly recommended reading to anyone anywhere in the U.S. actively interested in recreation areas, park lands and wildlife sanctuaries. It is not a book for gripers who sit on their backsides, but it will be of great assistance to those fishermen, hunters, hikers, bird watchers and indignant garden clubbers who "want to do something" to save that wild gorge or patch of woods on the town line. Little and Burnap cite case histories in land philanthropy, and they show how desirable open space can be when it is spared the bulldozer's blade. They devote considerable detail to such important matters as the tax benefits of giving, deed restrictions, scenic easements and cluster development. Copies of Stewardship are obtainable from the Open Space Action Committee, 205 East 42 Street, New York N.Y. 10017, $3 paperbound, $6 cloth.