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The World Without Us Hardcover – July 10, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 927 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. If a virulent virus—or even the Rapture—depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished? That's the provocative, and occasionally puckish, question posed by Weisman (An Echo in My Blood) in this imaginative hybrid of solid science reporting and morbid speculation. Days after our disappearance, pumps keeping Manhattan's subways dry would fail, tunnels would flood, soil under streets would sluice away and the foundations of towering skyscrapers built to last for centuries would start to crumble. At the other end of the chronological spectrum, anything made of bronze might survive in recognizable form for millions of years—along with one billion pounds of degraded but almost indestructible plastics manufactured since the mid-20th century. Meanwhile, land freed from mankind's environmentally poisonous footprint would quickly reconstitute itself, as in Chernobyl, where animal life has returned after 1986's deadly radiation leak, and in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, a refuge since 1953 for the almost-extinct goral mountain goat and Amur leopard. From a patch of primeval forest in Poland to monumental underground villages in Turkey, Weisman's enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From The New Yorker

Teasing out the consequences of a simple thought experiment—what would happen if the human species were suddenly extinguished—Weisman has written a sort of pop-science ghost story, in which the whole earth is the haunted house. Among the highlights: with pumps not working, the New York City subways would fill with water within days, while weeds and then trees would retake the buckled streets and wild predators would ravage the domesticated dogs. Texas’s unattended petrochemical complexes might ignite, scattering hydrogen cyanide to the winds—a "mini chemical nuclear winter." After thousands of years, the Chunnel, rubber tires, and more than a billion tons of plastic might remain, but eventually a polymer-eating microbe could evolve, and, with the spectacular return of fish and bird populations, the earth might revert to Eden.
Copyright © 2007 Click here to subscribe to The New Yorker

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.31 pounds
  • Hardcover : 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 0312347294
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0312347291
  • Dimensions : 6.73 x 1.17 x 9.23 inches
  • Publisher : Thomas Dunne Books (July 10, 2007)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.4 out of 5 stars 927 ratings

Customer reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5
927 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2018
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Top reviews from other countries

Richard Bagshaw
4.0 out of 5 stars A Powerful Account of Human Impact on the World, and How It Will End
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 5, 2020
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Shane White
5.0 out of 5 stars a fascinating thing to think about
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 31, 2020
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Matt Bedford
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book; my only negative point was that (as ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 9, 2015
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Mac McAleer
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 25, 2012
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David A. Hardy
4.0 out of 5 stars World Without Us - for better or worse?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 8, 2009
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