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Over 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.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Regina on 04-28-14
Lifts you out of the ordinary
I tend not to listen to serious or difficult books, because those I want to hold in my hands and underline the key points to help me absorb them. This is certainly a serious book, but Elizabeth Kolbert is such a clean, clear writer her story flows as easily as it engages.
It's not a doom and gloom book either, at least not entirely, although doom is certainly in the works for many, many species, thanks to our stewardship of our shared planet. What can we do? Answering that question is not Kolbert's task. What she does is lay out in rich and compelling detail the story of what happened across millions of years on earth and what is happening now to animals on earth with us.
Some books I like disappear from mind fairly quickly. This one is staying with me. Highly recommended. Good narrator. She's low key, which is just right. Emotional would make listening impossible.
68 of 70 people found this review helpful
By Marjorie on 08-30-15
You Can't Say You Didn't Know It Was Coming...
This audio book presents information which ties together the history of the past five extinctions on this planet earth with the latest scientific research pointing to an imminent extinction in our not too distant future. The information presented was credible and well documented. This is an important and captivating book, and, yes, I found it terribly sad. What humans have done to this planet is painful to accept. The book paints a grim picture of our future and about the possibility of reversing the trend of destruction which we humans have wreaked upon this earth. If it is too late, maybe we should just put the blinders on and enjoy the ride. You'll need to decide if you are ready for this much information.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful