“A Summer of Birds” makes Best of 2008 list

When the Times of Acadiana asked area commentators to name the best books they’d read in 2008, author Danny Heitman’s A Summer of Birds: John James Audubon at Oakley House made the list.

Published by LSU Press as a trade title, the critically acclaimed book chronicles a pivotal season that Audubon spent at Oakley Plantation in St. Francisville – a period that dramatically shaped Audubon’s future as a bird artist.

“Leave it to gently astute Baton Rouge writer Danny Heitman to unearth an untold chapter in the history of one of America’s most celebrated naturalists,” Tom Guarisco, editor of 225 Magazine, said in nominating A Summer of Birds for the Times of Acadiana’s Best Books of 2008 list. “It turns out that John James Audubon’s time spent in and around St. Francisville – and specifically observing and reflecting on its fabulous population of birds – stirred in him a passion that fueled the life’s work he’s so well known for.”

A Summer of Birds has inspired an ongoing exhibit at LSU’s Hill Memorial Library, and Louisiana Public Broadcasting will soon begin production of a documentary version of the book.