The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

Hardback

By (author) Elizabeth Kolbert

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  • Publisher: Henry Holt & Company
  • Format: Hardback | 319 pages
  • Dimensions: 160mm x 236mm x 30mm | 567g
  • Publication date: 11 February 2014
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 0805092994
  • ISBN 13: 9780805092998
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations, black & white halftones, maps
  • Sales rank: 37,032

Product description

ONE OF THE "NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW'S" 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEARA major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyesOver the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us. In "The Sixth Extinction," two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and "New Yorker" writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino. Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.

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Author information

Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at "The New Yorker." She is the author of "Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change." She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.

Review quote

"[Kolbert] makes a page-turner out of even the most sober and scientifically demanding aspects of extinction. Combining a lucid, steady, understated style with some enviable reporting adventures... she produces a book that is both serious-minded and invites exclamation points into its margins." --"New York Magazine""Powerful . . . Kolbert expertly traces the 'twisting' intellectual history of how we've come to understand the concept of extinction, and more recently, how we've come to recognize our role in it. . . An invaluable contribution to our understanding of present circumstances."--Al Gore, "The New York Times Book Review""Arresting . . . Ms. Kolbert shows in these pages that she can write with elegiac poetry about the vanishing creatures of this planet, but the real power of her book resides in the hard science and historical context she delivers here, documenting the mounting losses that human beings are leaving in their wake." --"The New York Times""[Kolbert] grounds her stories in rigorous science and memorable characters past and present, building a case that a mass extinction is underway, whether we want to admit it or not." --"Discover Magazine ""Throughout her extensive and passionately collected research, Kolbert offers a highly readable, enlightening report on the global and historical impact of humans... a highly significant eye-opener rich in facts and enjoyment." --"Kirkus "(starred review) "The factoids Kolbert tosses off about nature's incredible variety--a frog that carries eggs in its stomach and gives birth through its mouth, a wood stork that cools off by defecating on its own legs--makes it heartbreakingly clear, without any heavy-handed sermonizing from the author, just how much we lose when an animal goes extinct. In the same way, her intrepid reporting from far-off places--Panama, Iceland, Italy, Scotland, Peru, the Amazonian rain forest of Brazil, and the remote one tree Island, off the coast of Australia--gives us a sense of the earth'