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The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples
Synopses & Reviews
In the tradition of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, The Eternal Frontier is ecological history on a monumental scale. One of the world's foremost paleontologists, Tim Flannery has undertaken a task of enormous ambition and accomplished something never before attempted: a history of the formation of North America as we know it today. Starting with an asteroid strike 65 million years ago, Flannery shows how the continent came into being and was then transformed into our modern landscape. He describes the development of North America's deciduous forests and other flora and tracks the immigration and emigration of various animals to and from Europe, Asia, and South America, showing how plant and animal species have either adapted or become extinct. The story takes in the massive changes wrought by the ice ages and the coming of humans, and continues right up to the present, covering the deforestation of the Northeast, the decimation of the buffalo, and other facets of the enormous impact of frontier settlement and the development of the industrial might of the United States. The Eternal Frontier contains an enormous wealth of fascinating scientific details, and Flannery's accessible and dynamic writing makes the book a delight to read. It is a heady, almost vertiginous feeling to ponder the enormous span of time that the book covers and to assimilate the radical changes that have occurred over the years. This is science writing at its very best: a page-turner that is simultaneously an accessible but scholarly trove of incredible information. Destined to be a classic, The Eternal Frontier is a truly astonishing accomplishment.
"Tim Flannery's account of North America, from the end of the dinosaurs to the contemporary ecological crisis, makes a thrilling, beautifully written story. It will fascinate Americans and non-Americans alike."
-- Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel
"Tim Flannery has crafted a masterpiece of science and history. Rich with fascinating and often mind-boggling insights into how the continent of North America developed, this gracefully written book is a must for anyone who has ever marveled at this large and infinitely varied land."
-- Paul R. Ehrlich, author of Human Natures
"A sweeping natural history of North America from its birth as a self-contained continent in the Cretaceous era to its current precarious status as an ecological superpower... Flannery writes a lively account of an ever-changing landscape of deserts, tropical forests, and creeping island sheets — a land where elephants, camels, giant pigs, and other creatures appear, thrive, move on, or become extinct... He knows how to make paleontology, geology, climatology, and anthropology accessible to all... Natural history par excellence."
-- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"[A]s Tim Flannery reminds us in his new book, North America is a 65-million-year evolutionary work in progress... In The Eternal Frontier, Flannery synthesizes a vast range of scientific studies and a decent selection of historical and cultural writings, leavening those with his own forceful ideas... in order to explain America, in the largest sense, to Americans... What he has done... amounts to offering himself as the Tocqueville of American biogeography."
-- David Quammen, The New York Times Book Review
Book News Annotation:
Director of the South Australian Museum, Flannery (U. of Adelaide) traces the physical and ecological evolution of North America, beginning 65 million years ago, when, he says, a giant meteor smashed into the Gulf of Mexico and closed the curtain on dinosaurs. He draws on his training as a paleontologist to describe the subsequent rebirth of plants, animals, climate, and landforms and the impact of human migration onto the continent, which he places about 14,000 years ago.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Offering a wealth of scientific details, one of the world's foremost paleontologists has undertaken a sweeping, multiple disciplinary history of the geological and ecological development of North America. of color photos & illustrations.
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