On Extinction: How We Became Estranged from Nature (Hardcover)

How We Became Estranged from Nature

By Melanie Challenger

Counterpoint LLC, 9781619020184, 352pp.

Publication Date: December 11, 2012



Realizing the link between her own estrangement from nature and the cultural shifts that led to a dramatic rise in extinctions, award-winning writer Melanie Challenger travels in search of the stories behind these losses. From an exploration of an abandoned mine in England to an Antarctic sea voyage to South Georgia's old whaling stations, from a sojourn in South America to a stay among an Inuit community in Canada, she uncovers species, cultures, and industries touched by extinction. Accompanying her on this journey are the thoughts of anthropologists, biologists, and philosophers who have come before her. Drawing on their words as well as firsthand witness and ancestral memory, Challenger traces the mindset that led to our destructiveness and proposes a path of redemption rooted in our emotional responses. This sobering yet illuminating book looks beyond natural devastation to examine why and what's next.

Praise For On Extinction: How We Became Estranged from Nature

Praise for On Extinction

On Extinction is a strange hybrid of travelogue and natural science, misted over with a wanderer’s lonesome observations of a world in the process of disappearing Amid this solid research, there is fine and truly poetic prose Challenger has staked her book’s right to exist on the strange synthesis of poetry and science." The New York Times Book Review

"A deep look at the human capacity for extinction twined with roamings to the far ends of the earth, from poet and fledgling natural historian ChallengerShe has a rangy curiosity that extends well past ignorance and alienation as the sole agents of the man-made extinctionA formidable inquiry into why the marvels of nature and the distinctiveness of cultures are constantly imperiled."Kirkus

Erudite and impassioned, Melanie Challenger’s On Extinction is a ruminative examination on the way our 21st century world is changing quickly . . . A timely and important book, On Extinction will make you think, one of the finest things a book can do.” The Dallas Morning News

[Challenger] has a keen awareness of how the past is layered beneath the present, and how transient both natural and human systems are [On Extinction] lets the reader observe a creative and intelligent mind at work on problems that face all of us.” Columbus Dispatch

"A book which eloquently explores the unhallowedness of species extinctions and which also depicts humanity's resultant bereftness: their loss is ours."
Jay Griffiths, author of Wild: An Elemental Journey