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The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History Hardcover – Feb 11 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (Feb. 11 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805092994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805092998
  • Product Dimensions: 15.9 x 2.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 454 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #727 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

[The Sixth Extinction] is a wonderful book, and it makes very clear that big, abrupt changes can happen; they're not outside the realm of possibility. They have happened before, they can happen again. ―President Barack Obama

“Fascinating.” ―USA Today

“[An] excellent new book...The Sixth Extinction is the kind of book that helps us recognize the actual planet we live upon.” ―New York Review of Books

“Surprisingly breezy, entirely engrossing, and frequently entertaining... Kolbert is a masterful, thought-provoking reporter.” ―The Boston Globe

“Thorough and fascinating . . . Kolbert is an economical and deft explainer of the technical, and about as intrepid a reporter as they come . . . Her reporting is meticulous.” ―Harper's

“Riveting... It is not possible to overstate the importance of Kolbert's book. Her prose is lucid, accessible and even entertaining as she reveals the dark theater playing out on our globe.” ―San Francisco Chronicle

“A fascinating and frightening excursion... Kolbert presents powerful cases to bring her point home.” ―The Washington Post

“Your view of the world will be fundamentally changed... Kolbert is an astute observer, excellent explainer and superb synthesizer, and even manages to find humor in her subject matter.” ―The Seattle Times

“What's exceptional about Kolbert's writing is the combination of scientific rigor and wry humor that keeps you turning the pages.” ―National Geographic

“Beautifully written. An excellent book.” ―Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

“[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's vastness and beauty.” ―Bookforum

“Kolbert accomplishes an amazing feat in her latest book, which superbly blends the depressing facts associated with rampant species extinctions and impending ecosystem collapse with stellar writing to produce a text that is accessible, witty, scientifically accurate, and impossible to put down.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Rendered with rare, resolute, and resounding clarity, Kolbert's compelling and enlightening report forthrightly addresses the most significant topic of our lives.” ―Booklist (starred review)

“Solid [and] engaging.” ―Library Journal (starred review)

“An epic, riveting story of our species that reads like a scientific thriller--only more terrifying because it is real. Like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction is destined to become one of the most important and defining books of our time.” ―David Grann, author of The Lost City of Z

“I tore through Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction with a mix of awe and terror. Her long view of extinction excited my joy in life's diversity -- even as she made me aware how many species are currently at risk.” ―Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and Galileo's Daughter

“With her usual lucid and lovely prose, Elizabeth Kolbert lays out the sad and gripping facts of our moment on earth: that we've become a geological force, driving vast swaths of creation over the brink. A remarkable addition to the literature of our haunted epoch.” ―Bill McKibben, author Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist

“Elizabeth Kolbert's cautionary tale, The Sixth Extinction, offers us a cogent overview of a harrowing biological challenge. The reporting is exceptional, the contextualizing exemplary. Kolbert stands at the forefront of what it means to be a socially responsible American writer today.” ―Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams

“The sixth mass extinction is the biggest story on Earth, period, and Elizabeth Kolbert tells it with imagination, rigor, deep reporting, and a capacious curiosity about all the wondrous creatures and ecosystems that exist, or have existed, on our planet. The result is an important book full of love and loss.” ―David Quammen, author of The Song of the Dodo and Spillover

“Elizabeth Kolbert writes with an aching beauty of the impact of our species on all the other forms of life known in this cold universe. The perspective is at once awe-inspiring, humbling and deeply necessary.” ―T.C. Boyle, author of San Miguel

About the Author

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.


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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Elizabeth Kolbert has written a timely account of a tragedy which will no doubt occur throughout this century. She shows how humans have caused species extinctions in the prehistoric past, in the present and in the future. Much of the damage has happened unintentionally as globetrotting humans introduce invasive species to places where new kids on the block overrun the natives.

Kolbert interviews countless biologists fighting to understand and preserve endangered plants and animals. The biologists are dedicated and inventive. They accomplish miracles on shoestring budgets. The funding available for ecologists is mere peanuts compared to the huge subsidies we grant carmakers, oil companies and investment bankers. The influx of carbon is making the oceans more acidic. Not only will we witness the death of coral reefs in the coming decades, many species of shell fish will decline or disappear.

My only complaint is with the publisher which has made no effort to present this wonderful book for E-book readers. Established publishers treat their eBook offerings as an added cash cow. The terms of this book could have been indexed and defined as endnotes, rather than the useless index list given at the end. Why should we pay so much for so little effort?
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Sixth Extinction leads the reader through a series of species in decline, each of which exposes a facet of the environmental changes. Along the way, the reader is introduced to flora and fauna – by botanical name and by an operational description. Like a good detective story, the clues are laid out and scientists who are doing the research explain the consequences. It is hard for the reader not to avoid the conclusion that what began slowly 100,000 years ago is now a warp-speed motion towards overpopulation and resource plunder.
One of the scientists suggested that the rats would be the survivors of the homo sapien extinction. With a step backwards, perhaps the worms at the hydrothermal vents are preparing the seventh edition of fauna for the next world domination and extinction cycle.
Recommended reading for those who believe the world is headed for the cliff - preaching to the choir AND to those who who do not believe - it may be the much needed wake up call.

Gordon Barnes Aurora Ontario Canada
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Format: Hardcover
As a former invertebrate paleobiologist, "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" is the book I have been waiting for years to be written. It is a clarion call for ending the current mass extinction that we humans are causing, and a book that should be, according to Scientific American, "this era's galvanizing text", worthy of comparison with Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring". It is also a vastly superior popular science book than last year's "Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction" written by IO9 science editor Annalee Newitz, simply because Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker, has done a superlative job in science reporting, accurately reporting and interpreting work done by some of the most notable researchers of our time studying mass extinctions, whether it is research from Berkeley vertebrate paleobiologist Anthony Barnosky (The lead author of a 2011 Nature paper estimating that current extinction rates are equivalent to those of the five great mass extinctions recognized from the fossil record; the terminal Ordovician, terminal Permian, terminal Triassic and the terminal Cretaceous; the latter in which non-avian dinosaurs became extinct.) or American Museum of Natural History curator of invertebrate paleontology Neil Landman, a noted researcher of Cretaceous ammonites, or evolutionary geneticist and anthropologist Svante Paabo, whose team is sequencing the entire Neanderthal genome and recognized the existence of another late Pleistocene hominid species, the Denisovans, from genomic material in a fragment of a finger bone found in a Siberian cave.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book and believe this is something everyone should read. It is at once informative and hopeful and heartbreaking and frightening. So many species gone, and many more at the brink... are we very far behind?
Excellent writing, interesting material. Highly recommended to anyone even remotely interested in the state of the world around them.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Anyone who has a least a moderate knowledge about science with find this book a pleasure to read and will not require the accompanied study guide. Ms. Tolbert has a clear and readable ability of describing a somewhat difficult, yet important topic. In a somewhat casual writing approach she takes us with her as she travels throughout the world and examines the various signs of the destruction that mankind is bringing upon the world he claims to love so much. Are we doomed? The author wisely avoids answering this question directly but, rather, poses the possible defeats and/or victories which may lie before us. I highly recommend this book as being part of both a study in paleontology and the future of global warming trends.......
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