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Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth Kindle Edition

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Length: 370 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews Review

Guest Review for Apocalyptic Planet from Neil Shubin

Neil Shubin

Neil Shubin is author of Your Inner Fish and the upcoming The Universe Within. He is provost of The Field Museum as well as professor of anatomy at the University of Chicago, where he also serves as an associate dean. Educated at Columbia, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley, he lives in Chicago.

Part field guide, part love letter, and part biography of Earth, Apocalyptic Planet looks at our ever-changing world to find refreshing and eye-popping insights in the most unlikely places. In glacial ice, rocky mountains, and dusty outcroppings on the desert floor, Craig Childs uses cutting-edge science to reveal the dazzling changes our planet has experienced. Seas have come and gone; mountains have risen only to fall; while whole continents have moved, split, and crashed into one another. The 4.67-billion-year-history of Earth has seen whole worlds collapse, with others born in their remains. Planetary apocalypse is the way of the world; our very presence on the planet has been shaped by cataclysm.

Craig Childs walking on the desert or climbing a mountain is like a gourmand at a sumptuous feast: the sensual delight with which he relishes the world around him gives the rest of us a vicarious thrill, even hunger. You just want to turn over that rock he sees, move dust to expose an ancient artifact, or scale the cave wall in front of him. Childs delights in the details of the rock, sand, and ice, and in them he finds stories as large as the planet itself. In his hands, the main casualty of apocalypse is our familiar view of Earth: it is impossible to read Craig Childs and see the world in the same way again.

A Look Inside Apocalyptic Planet

Apocalyptic Planet
Apocalyptic Planet
Apocalyptic Planet

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Childs traveled the world to destinations both exceptional and mundane seeking clues to what life will be like in the future on our increasingly unstable planet. Ruminating on our distant past and present changes, he blends climate science, natural history, literary references, and personal reflections to create an immensely evocative sense of time and place. From Greenland’s glaciers to a blistering hot Iowa cornfield (a place Childs characterizes as suffering from “genetic exhaustion”), he immerses himself in parts of our world that scientists endlessly study but we willfully ignore. He consults great minds, cajoles friends into sharing his adventures (with often hilarious results), and brings his mother along in an attempt to gather clues and form conclusions about the end of the world as we know it. Surprisingly, this is not a work of darkest sorrow but rather an engaging exploration of the land beneath us and the sixth mass extinction that scientists agree is underway. Always curious, Childs went out in the world to learn “in the presence of apocalypse,” taking readers along for the intriguing ride. --Colleen Mondor

Product Details

  • File Size: 3581 KB
  • Print Length: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 2, 2012)
  • Publication Date: October 2, 2012
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007SGM2FU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,807 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Craig Childs is an Arizona native now living in western Colorado. Winner of the 2009 Rowell Art of Adventure Award, he is part deep traveler, part writer who focuses on natural sciences, archaeology, and journeys into the global wilderness. He is a commentator for National Public Radio's Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men's Journal, Outside, the Sun, and Orion. Subjects range from pre-Columbian archaeology to US border issues to the last free-flowing rivers of Tibet and Patagonia.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By R.W.W. Greene on October 22, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I've long been fan of big real(or at least realistic)-life adventure stories. As a kid I read Thor Heyerdahl's "Kon Tiki" at least seven times and devoured books by Farley Mowat, Jack London and Mark Twain. I read about sea voyages and shipwrecks, desert crossings and awkward portages, glacier ascents and trips into the bowels of the earth. It was the next best thing to being there, and as close as I could get from my home in rural Maine.
Somewhere along the way, partly awakened by the Reagan administration, I became aware of how transitory these places and adventures were, how using the wild often means using it up, and that mankind has the power to kick the crap out of the planet without the self-control not to. I transitioned from adventure and exploration tales to studying the apocalypse through "Alas, Babylon," "On the Beach," "No Truce with Kings," "Shadow on the Hearth" ...
Craig Childs' new book, "Apocalyptic Planet," provides grist for both of my mental mills, reminding me that, yes, we're destroying our ecosystem in multiple ways, while showing me that the author had a hellishly awesome time finding out about them. The book is terrifying in some respects (who knew that corn was coming to get us, too?) and reassuring in others (our world may be ending, but there are others that won't -- and still more that won't get going until we're dead and fossilized.)
The book is at its best when it has characters, when Childs can show the danger of his situations through the people around him: his mom, his step dad, the photographer who walked into a volcano and into the driest place on earth with him, the poor son of a bitch Childs conned into wandering with him into corn purgatory.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Tom Madsen on October 25, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Child's books just get better and better. His research is a beautiful combination of academia and total physical immersion. Not being a specialist, like so many of the real life characters in the book, he is able to connect the dots of many different disciplines and lay it out in layman's terms. I found the book to be highly entertaining and highly educational.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Richard Reese (author of Sustainable or Bust) on December 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
Craig Childs is a nature writer and globetrotting adventure hog. He’s been thinking a lot about apocalypse lately. It’s hard not to. The jungle drums are pounding out a growing stream of warnings — attention! — big trouble ahead.

The Christian currents in our culture encourage us to perceive time as being something like a drag strip. At one end is the starting line (creation), and at the other end is the finish line (judgment day). We’re speeding closer and closer to the end, which some perceive to be the final Game Over for everything everywhere. Childs disagrees. “We are not on a one-way trip to a brown and sandblasted planet.”

He was lucky to survive into adulthood still possessing an unfettered imagination, and he can zoom right over packs of snarling dogmas that disembowel most folks who attempt to think outside the box. In his book Apocalyptic Planet, he gives readers a helpful primer on eco-catastrophe. The bottom line is that Earth is constantly changing, and it’s not uncommon for change events to be sudden and catastrophic.

He purports that the big storm on the horizon today is not “The Apocalypse.” It’s just one more turbulent era in a four billion year story. Out of the pile of planetary disasters, he selects nine examples, travels to locations that illustrate each one, and then spins stories. Each tale cuts back and forth between his adventures at the site, and background information from assorted sources. It’s an apocalypse buffet.

Deserts are a quarter of all land, and many are growing now. History tells us that they can expand and contract rapidly, taking out societies in the process. Four out of ten people live in regions prone to drying up. New Mexico once experienced a drought that lasted 1,000 years.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Ward on December 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I like the way Craig Childs intersperses his own trips into the wild with the science behind what is going on with our world right now, even as I write this. I have read a lot of books about paleontology and it is obvious that our planet is capable of horrendous things. We live in an extremely mild climate compared with the climate many other species have had to live in at times past and indeed our own species evolved in hard times. We have come so far from hunter gathering that many members of our species would perish very quickly if we were suddenly plunged back into that phase. This is a very thought provoking book and I would recommend it to all readers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Raymond D. Schamel on November 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I saw Craig Childs interviewed on television. I subsequently purchased this book which was the subject of the interview. This more than merely makes the point that we humans have destroyed so much and are behaving like a malignant cancer which will ultimately destroy our "home" and therefore ourselves. He does offer some hope yet if we have the will to reverse our acts
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Howard L. Lodl on March 21, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Craig has written an excellent, non preachy piece on the environment. Rather than being overbearing, he paints a journey exploring our world and its wonders and distinct beauty in regions most would never go. I found the language to be very smooth and not overbearing with scientific language. I have read "Sand County Almanac" by Aldo Leopold and am currently reading "The Living Great Lakes" and find this to be very comparable to both of these works. Craig also brings forth the human element of these vignettes of his travels with very real moments of our frailties and our silliness as people.
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