The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

I really enjoy science nonfiction – if it’s about a disease, animals, a weather event, anthropology, etc, etc… I will read it! I was never very good at math and science in school, although I did take a “Biology for nonmajors” class and loved it. Thankfully, it has provided enough of a foundation for me to comfortably read the science nonfiction that I love.

sixthextinctionMy most recent science read was The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. This book was pretty prevalent in the news when it came out – since some folks can’t even wrap their minds around humans and our direct relationship with climate change, so I’m not surprised that a detailed investigation into a MASS EXTINCTION EVENT caused by humans freaked those (probably same) people out.

Each chapter addresses a different extinct or endangered species, and Kolbert uses that as a lens into the history of extinction as a concept (and by nature dives into theory of evolution, speciation, etc. The history of the history of science! It was fascinating), conservation, research…She covers rhinos, amphibians, great auks, Neanderthals, dinosaurs in Central America, the Northern Atlantic, Africa… I really liked the structure, I learned about so many different things! Each chapter focusing on a different species kept my interest going, and prevent the pacing from getting bogged down.

I can see why this won the Pulitzer Prize. It was informative, fun to read, and really well done. By the end, my only fatigue was with the human race. Everything is our fault, so many awful things are caused by our actions… it was demoralizing by the end. But still a good read! I’m sure this went straight to the top of required reading lists for AP Bio classes everywhere. As well it should!

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