Synopses & Reviews
In this age of climate change, killer germs, and obesity, its easy to feel as if we've fallen out of synch with the global ecosystem. This ecological anxiety has polarized a new generation of Americans: many are drawn to natural solutions and organic lifestyles, while others rally around high-tech development and industrial efficiencies. Johnson argues that both views, when taken to extremes, can be harmful, even deadly.
Johnson, raised in the crunchy-granola epicenter of Nevada City, California, lovingly and rigorously scrutinizes his family's all-natural mindset, a quest that brings him into the worlds of an outlaw midwife, radical doctors, renegade farmers and one hermit forester. Along the way, he uncovers paradoxes at the heart of our ecological condition: Why, even as medicine improves, are we becoming less healthy? Why are more American women dying in childbirth? Why do we grow fatter the more we diet? Why have so many attempts to save the environment backfired?
In this sparklingly intelligent, wry, and scrupulously reported narrative, Johnson teases fact from faith and offers a rousing and original vision for a middle ground between natural and technological solutions that will assuage frustrated environmentalists, perplexed parents, and confused consumers alike.
"Why are severe injuries to women during childbirth increasing in the U.S.? Can our prevailing assumptions about diet and nutrition 'to a large extent be responsible for the epidemics in heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and osteoporosis'? How can humans be a functional, helpful part of nature rather than destroying it? These are some of the questions that journalist Johnson explores in his quest to 'unravel the confusion surrounding technology and nature.' His vehicle for investigation is wonder, which he proposes to be 'the place shared by the rigorous science of the technological perspective and the creative free thinking of the natural perspective.' Johnson was raised by hippyesque parents in the alternate lifestyle enclave of Nevada City, Calif., and his anxieties and struggles around such issues as computer games, the hiking epiphanies of his childhood, and home vs. hospital birth for his newly pregnant wife intertwine with his musings. Johnson, who studied with Michael Pollen at UC Berkeley, takes a similarly open-minded, nonideological approach, and Pollen's fans, as well as other readers grappling with the flood of conflicting information about how to live a healthy, nondestructive life, will appreciate this book's thoughtful and nuanced attitude and its often surprising conclusions. Agent: David Kuhn, Kuhn Projects." Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Nathanael Johnson is an award-winning journalist who has written features for Harpers, New York, Outside, and San Francisco magazines and produced stories for National Public Radio and This American Life. He studied with Michael Pollan at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in San Francisco.