Guest Review for Apocalyptic Planet from 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.