- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 1st Edition edition (April 14, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 022605750X
- ISBN-13: 978-0226057507
- Package Dimensions: 11.7 x 10.2 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 113 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,656 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Oldest Living Things in the World Hardcover – April 14, 2014
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This book is simply awe-inspiring - to be among beings that live such lives, where ice ages might come and go around the one individual. That time scale simply boggles the mind. Then the chill sets in: a few of these beings have died since their pictures were taken. A tree of 3000 years succumbed to fire, another of 13,000 was killed in a construction project. What lived so long can die in minutes, and you can't just plant some seeds and grow a new one, not 13,000 years old. Gone, after all that time, because of natural hazards or human carelessness.
And, in the current Great Extinction, we'll lose a lot more, mostly never having known they ever lived. Environmental threats and climate change can move faster than these living things can respond. I find it humbling, too - so few human artifacts or cultures have the power to last as long as these beings have.
Although the naturalist who collected these images took care with proper identification, she's not a scientist by trade. She's an artist, a photographer. But she's a part of the scientific venture, too, making it humanly understandable, even personal, and stirring the sense of awe and respect that underlies nearly all scientific research. (I first became aware of this book through a review in Science magazine.) Really, she just proves that the dichotomy of science and art is artificial and arbitrary, more an artifact of the viewer's preconceptions than of the fields themselves. This has my highest recommendation.