An Unnatural History
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
“In her timely, meticulously researched and well-written book, Kolbert combines scientific analysis and personal narratives to explain it to us. The result is a clear and comprehensive history of earth’s previous mass extinctions—and the species we’ve lost—and an engaging description of the extraordinarily complex nature of life. Most important, Kolbert delivers a compelling call to action.”
—The New York Times Book Review
Over the last half-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 prose that is at once frank, entertaining, and deeply informed, New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert tells us why and how human beings have altered life on the planet in a way no species has before. Interweaving research in half a dozen disciplines, descriptions of the fascinating species that have already been lost, and the history of extinction as a concept, Kolbert provides a moving and comprehensive account of the disappearances occurring before our very eyes. She shows that the sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe. She lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts, with her husband and children.
The Sixth Extinction has been adopted for 18 First-Year Experience programs at:
American University (DC); Colgate University (NY); Lafayette College (PA); Linfield College (OR); Occidental College (CA); Feather River College (CA); Millsaps College (MS); Montclair State University’s Presidential Scholars Program (NJ); NYU-Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Piedmont Virginia Community College; Rowan University (NJ); Saint Francis High School (CA); Stanford University (CA); Stevens Institute of Technology (NJ); University of Michigan – Flint; University of Vermont; Villanova University (PA); Williams College (MA)