The World Without Us

  • by Alan Weisman
  • Narrated by Adam Grupper
  • 12 hrs and 8 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, and man-made molecules may be our lasting gifts to the universe. Just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations and the world's cities would crumble, asphalt jungles giving way to real ones. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dalai Lama, and paleontologists, who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna (like giants sloths that stood taller than mammoths), Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us. Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self-healing and shows which human devastations are indelible and what of our highest art and culture would endure longest. Ultimately reaching a radical but persuasive solution to our planet's problems - one that needn't depend on our demise - this is narrative nonfiction at its finest, taking on an irresistible concept with gravity but a highly accessible touch.

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What the Critics Say

"Weisman's enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like." (Publishers Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

mixed feelings

I found this book to be entertaining and thought provoking at times, yet also vague and not focused at others. All considered, the book wasn't the objective science-based vision of the future
that I expected, but more a meandering commentary on environmental injustices since the industrial revolution. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't looking for cheery utopian visions here. I would probably save my download credit if I could go back, and see what my world without it would be like. A good abridgement skillfully edited might change my mind though...
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- Chris

Generally a good book

As some others have said, a lot of this book is not about the world without us, but the world with us. Still, I think some of that content is necessary in order to point out how we've changed the world in building our civilizations. In some ways, the world could go back to the way it was without us relatively quickly, and in others, we've left a much longer-term mark.

In listing what we've done to the place, there are elements I read in Jarred Diamond's "Collapse".

It was quite thought provoking. Some sections were really fascinating - such as that on what happens to NYC if we vanish, or the oil refining area around Houston, or nuclear power plants.
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- Steve

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-25-2007
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio