An Unnatural History
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“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
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 16 First-Year Experience programs at:
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); University of Michigan – Flint; University of Vermont; Villanova University (PA); Williams College (MA)