In 1941, Harry Harris published 'The Annals of Gymnogyps to 1900' [Condor 43(1):3-55, January 1941], a bibliographic survey of what was then known of the early history of the California condor. Even after publication in 1953 of Carl Koford's epic work on the biology of condors, Harris' review remained by far the most complete and most authoritative document concerning the relationships between humans and one of the world's rarest species. Now, seventy years later, an updated and expanded version of 'the Annals' is available.
Beginning in 1970, while conducting field research on the last remaining wild California condors, Sanford 'Sandy' Wilbur began compiling historical information on the species. In the next 40 years – combining his research skills and interests in history and biology – he located nearly 2000 written references to condors. Included were books, journal and magazine articles, newspaper items, diaries, field notes, manuscripts, museum data, and historic correspondence. Supplementing these references, he reviewed nearly 1000 additional items covering such topics as Pacific Coast history, biography, ethnology, paleontology, agriculture and livestock, chemical pesticides, and local faunas and floras.
Following Harry Harris' lead, he has woven all this material into a new 'annals of Gymnogyps' – supplemented, corrected, and continued from 1900 to the mid-1980s, when the last of the wild condors were taken into captivity. Nine Feet from Tip to Tip will certainly be of interest to condor enthusiasts, but it is much more than another 'condor book.' Featuring a previously little-known cast of characters – adventurers, hunters, specimen salesmen, private collectors, and museum curators – it is also a narrative of people, places, and events in the growth and development of the western United States.