A list of "the best" anything is always going to be a hard nut to crack, and it takes a brave person to hold theirs up for the world to see. Yet this is exactly what Terry Hope has done here. Forty photographers from a variety of countries, on different continents and with different specialities are given the opportunity to showcase their finest achievements.
Listing the photographers in alphabetical order is a neat device for avoiding any ranking within this group. It also creates an element of surprise because the well-recognised "heroes" aren't stacked at the front. Each photographer has a short biography and a small panel of photographs displayed (typically three or four), with the stories behind them. This works well and I found it useful to look at the photographs, read the biographies and then look again at the photographs.
A wide range of styles, techniques, subjects and habitats are covered. Giving the reader a superb insight into the world of wildlife photography. As a whole I think it comes together rather well. I certainly enjoyed reading about photographers I'd never heard of. There is clearly an underlying theme to all of their personal stories - dedication, hard work and unwavering commitment. They are all to be admired for their achievements.
This book is the first in a series and the fact that wildlife photographers have been chosen to start it off show just how important they have become. Not only because of the pleasure they bring but also because they are reminding us of what we have to lose.
Of the 160 photographs displayed only a couple did leave me wondering - "How can the best wildlife photographers consider their best shots to be of captive animals". But it was the shot of a reptile that had been kept in a fridge overnight to slow it down that really took the edge of any claim of being the best for me. I felt as if I'd eaten a superb meal only to find I'd been left with a bitter aftertaste.
This is undoubtedly a very nice book and one that any wildlife photographer would find interesting.