Michelet is writing in that sweet spot of natural history, before Darwin’s ideas had taken hold but after Lamarcke. Even better, the book is thick with appeals to eurocentric noblesse oblige. What this means is that once you’re free to set aside considerations of outdated fact and morality, once everything is cut loose, you can enjoy the book as you would a work of fiction. And say what you will about Michelet (or read Wilson on him, it’s great) it’s impossible to find fault with his style. Michelet also has the always-funny habit of mentioning some detail (“oh, this is the beach where my carriage vanished in quicksand”) but then demurring, saying something to the effect of “now is not the time for that.” Anyhow, very beachy, this book. And beach-sized, to boot.