Book Review: The Rites of Autumn

March Book Review by Jeremy D. Krones

The Rites of Autumn
Dan O'Brien

A short but detailed and emotional book, The Rites of Autumn gives readers an insightful look into the world of falconry, through the eyes of the prolific writer, successful rancher, and avid environmentalist Dan O’Brien. The Diablo Trust book club read another of O’Brien’s books last June, Buffalo For the Broken Heart. While that memoir was both longer and more detailed with facts and figures concerning cattle, bison, and the “settling” of the West by European colonizers, The Rites of Autumn is a more personal tale of a man’s relationship with a bird, his bird. From the first scene of O’Brien watching as a golden eagle picks off three newly-released peregrine falcons to the final summary of post-story events, readers travel the Continental Divide with O’Brien and Dolly, his adopted falcon, meeting occasional lovers, long-time friends, and strangers altogether.

Especially when paired with the Diablo Trust Day on the Land to the Vermilion Cliffs to see and learn about the California condors from a Peregrine Fund researcher, The Rites of Autumn is both a intriguing historical document and a valuable intellectual supplement to seeing first-hand the power of such amazing birds.

We highly recommend this book.