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October 09, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

WITNESS: Endangered Species of North America by Susan Middleton & David Liittschwager (Chronicle Books: $29.95; 256 pp., paperback original). So many books on endangered species have appeared in recent years, they practically constitute a genre, but the virtuoso beauty of "Witness" stands out among them. Middleton and Liittschwager photographed single animals and plants, which imbues the pictures with the dignity of fine portraiture: Instead of an undifferentiated group of wolves or salmon, they show the reader an individual, underscoring its unique genetic heritage. "Witness" is an eloquent record of beautiful creatures that may soon exist only in photographs.

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