Thursday, August 12, 2010

My response to R. J. R. Daniels's review

Dear Dr Ranjit Daniels,

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that you have reviewed my book, Birds in books, for Current Science [99 (3): 385–386]. I thank you for your insights, which I hope will make for improved future editions. I also thank you for recommending it to readers.

However, you raise a few points, that I need to clarify.

The first is regarding the "gaps in listing regional language ornithological publications included in the book" (p. 385). May I draw your attention to page 17 of the book, where I elaborate on its 'Scope'. In the last para I have clearly stated, 'The books included here are mainly in English … A few works in Indian languages … are also included but these may not comprise a complete representation of existing work in regional languages."

As regards the book by Air Vice Marshall Vishwa Mohan Tivari, I think you missed this one. It is listed on p. 715, # 1582.

The second is regarding the listing of "obscure" literature, and those listed as 'Not seen' by me. For a bibliographer, citing obscure literature is as important as literature central to the subject. And it is completely unfair to the authors to state that all books that I've listed under 'Not seen', may well be obscure. I would not dare to categorise the works of John Gould (# 658), John Latham (# 1014), Thomas Pennant (# 1250), F. H. Waterhouse (# 1643), etc., as 'obscure', even though I haven't seen them.

The third is what you consider a "major weakness of the timeline of books and the introduction [which] have failed to highlight the valuable contributions of Indian ornithologists …" Frankly I viewed the entire collation from the point of view of the subject, which is the ornithology of South Asia, and not nationalities of the authors.

Regarding the section entitled 'Brief biographies of authors', let me just say that I did not think this was the right place for greater biographical elaboration about the deceased ornithologists. 

Your penultimate criticism, wherein you state, "the index is totally useless as it serves no purpose … there is no author index," is the hardest to understand. The entire bibliography is arranged alphabetically according to first author's surname! Please see p. 18 where I clearly inform the reader that, 'The general arrangement of the works is alphabetical by author, and chronologically by year, under author.' This is the precise reason that an index to co-authors and co-editors has been provided.

Finally, you state that "the index of 'new names' are basically old synonyms and not recent changes …" Unfortunately, here you completely miss the point. The 'new names' are names given to taxa when they were first described by the authors in these works. I had no intention of listing current taxonomic jugglery.

There are other valid points you raise, and I thank you for pointing me in the right direction. Being an amateur student of ornithology, this is a great help to me.

No comments: