Nonfiction Short Take: The Ends of the World – Peter Brannen

Here’s another look at five big catastrophes and what they can tell us about the future. In this case we’re not talking money but geology–and the stakes are the survival of the planet. That said, you won’t read a funnier, wittier book on the topic of mass extinction. This is a terrifically entertaining tour of the planet’s history structured as a detective story. It’s got the same narrative inventiveness that made The World Without Us such a hit with general readers.

“Brannen infuses his narrative with tongue-in-cheek humor that does not downplay the seriousness of his subject [while] addressing the controversies that have arisen both in the scientific community and the public sphere but never devolving into unproductive attacks. If readers have time for only one book on the subject, this wonderfully written, well-balanced, and intricately researched (though not too dense) selection is the one to choose.”
Library Journal (starred review)

A simultaneously enlightening and cautionary tale of the deep history of our planet and the possible future… entertaining and informative on the geological record and the researchers who study it…. [A] useful addition to the popular literature on climate change.”

“A much-needed overview… of [the Big Five] extinctions, both as a cautionary lesson and a hopeful demonstration of how life on Earth keeps rebounding from destruction… Everyone from climatologists to general science buffs will enjoy this well-written, closely focused. . . look at our planet’s paleontological history.”

The Ends of the World: Volcanic Apocalypses, Lethal Oceans, and Our Quest to Understand Earth’s Past Mass Extinctions (9780062364807) by Peter Brannen. $27.99 hardcover. 6/13/17 on sale.


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