- Series: 2008 later printing Picador-Thomas Dunne Books
- Paperback: 432 pages
- Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (August 5, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312427905
- ISBN-13: 978-0312427900
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 512 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,475 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The World Without Us Paperback – August 5, 2008
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“This is one of the grandest thought experiments of our time, a tremendous feat of imaginative reporting.” ―Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future
“Brilliantly creative . . . An audacious intellectual adventure . . . His thought experiment is so intellectually fascinating, so oddly playful, that it escapes categorizing and clichés. . . . It sucks us in with a vision of what is, what has been, and what is yet to come. . . . It's a trumpet call that sounds from the other end of the universe and from inside us all.” ―Salon
“An astonishing mass of reportage that envisions a world suddenly bereft of humans.” ―The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“A fascinating nonfiction eco-thriller . . . Weisman's gripping fantasy will make most readers hope that at least some of us can stick around long enough to see how it all turns out.” ―The New York Times Book Review
“Alan Weisman has produced, if not a Bible, at least a Book of Revelation.” ―Newsweek
“The book boasts an amazingly imaginative conceit that manages to tap into underlying fears and subtly inspire us to consider our interaction with the planet.” ―The Washington Post
“Extraordinarily farsighted . . . Beautiful and passionate.” ―The Boston Globe
“Grandly entertaining.” ―Time
“The World Without Us gradually reveals itself to be one of the most satisfying environmental books of recent memory, one devoid of self-righteousness, alarmism, or tiresome doomsaying.” ―Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“A refreshing, and oddly hopeful, look at the fate of the environment.” ―BusinessWeek
“This book is the very DNA of hope.” ―The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
“Prodigious and impressive.” ―The New York Times
“I don't think I've read a better nonfiction book this year.” ―Lev Grossman, Time Book Critic
“In his provocative new book, The World Without Us, Alan Weisman adds a dash of fiction to his science to address a despairing problem: the planet's health.” ―U.S. News & World Report
“An exacting account of the processes by which things fall apart. The scope is breathtaking . . . the clarity and lyricism of the writing itself left me with repeated gasps of recognition about the human condition. I believe it will be a classic."Dennis Covington, author of National Book Award finalist Salvation on Sand Mountain
“One of the most ambitious 'thought experiments' ever.” ―The Cincinnati Enquirer
“Alan Weisman offers us a sketch of where we stand as a species that is both illuminating and terrifying. His tone is conversational and his affection for both Earth and humanity transparent.” ―Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams
“Fascinating, mordant, deeply intelligent, and beautifully written, The World Without Us depicts the spectacle of humanity's impact on the planet Earth in tragically poignant terms that go far beyond the dry dictates of science. This is a very important book for a species playing games with its own destiny.” ―James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency
“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.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred)
“The imaginative power of The World Without Us is compulsive and nearly hypnotic--make sure you have time to be kidnapped into Alan Weisman's alternative world before you sit down with the book, because you won't soon return. This is a text that has a chance to change people, and so make a real difference for the planet.” ―Charles Wohlforth, author of Los Angeles Times Book Prize–winning The Whale and the Supercomputer
“Weisman is a thoroughly engaging and clarion writer fueled by curiosity and determined to cast light rather than spread despair. His superbly well-researched and skillfully crafted stop-you-in-your-tracks report stresses the underappreciated fact that humankind's actions create a ripple effect across the web of life.” ―Booklist (starred)
From the Inside Flap
"A penetrating, page-turning tour of a post-human Earth"
In" The World Without Us, "Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.In this far-reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe."The World Without Us "reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations, and how, as the world's cities crumble, asphalt jungles would give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish, and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dali Lama, and paleontologists---who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths---Weisman illustrates what the planet might be like today, if not for us.From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ; Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self-healing. As he shows which humandevastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman's narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that needn't depend on our demise. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has. "This is one of the grandest thought experiments of our time, a tremendous feat of imaginative reporting!"--Bill McKibben, author of "The End of Nature" and Deep" Economy: The Wealth of Communities and The Durable Future" "The imaginative power of "The World Without Us" is compulsive and nearly hypnotic--make sure you have time to be kidnapped into Alan Weisman's alternative world before you sit down with the book, because you won't soon return. This is a text that has a chance to change people, and so make a real difference for the planet."--Charles Wohlforth, author of "L.A. Times" Book Prize-winning "The Whale and the Supercomputer"
"Alan Weisman offers us a sketch of where we stand as a species that is both illuminating and terrifying. His tone is conversational and his affection for both Earth and humanity transparent."--Barry Lopez, author of "Arctic Dreams"
"An exacting account of the processes by which things fall apart. The scope is breathtaking...the clarity and lyricism of the writing itself left me with repeated gasps of recognition about the human condition. I believe it will be a classic."--Dennis Covington, author of National Book Award finalist "Salvation on Sand Mountain"
"Fascinating, mordant, deeply intelligent, and beautifully written, "TheWorld Without Us" depicts the spectacle of humanity's impact on the planet Earth in tragically poignant terms that go far beyond the dry dictates of science. This is a very important book for a species playing games with its own destiny."--James Howard Kunstler, author of "The Long Emergency"
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So, Weisman takes us on a tour from the mass extinction of the passenger pigeon in North American, to the Moa bird in New Zealand. We look at climate change, nuclear waste, and plastic islands in the oceans. It is a depressing catalog.
The only bright spot is that, to quote Jurassic Park, nature finds a way. Animals, plants and birds no longer found in Korea thrive in the depopulated DMZ. In the quarantine zone around Chernobyl, wolves have returned, along with moose, deer, badger, and horses.
The take away, the world will do fine without us. In fact, it might just thrive.
And Weisman does explain just that. But he does so in the first few chapters. The remain 15 or so go into details about Earth without man you never would have expected. He examines places like Cyprus and the Korean DMZ, which people haven't touched in ages. He takes you places you never would have expected. Each chapter is a different story, a different location, a different analysis. Each could be it's own article.
This book ends up teaching a lot about human history as well. I certainly didn't expect that.
This book is an interesting read, a learning adventure across the globe. As cheesy as it sounds, its a great ride.
I understand the need to look back in time in order to see where we might be in the future. But the time frames were so far-flung (and therefore so unrelatable) that I found much of this book so thoroughly boring that it was a real struggle to get through.
It's also obvious that the author did enormous amounts of research in putting this book together. Unfortunately, that left a lot of instances where the book went into painful detail about how this concept or that concept worked, and was just more writing for me to struggle through.
I really, really wanted to love this book. And while there are gems sprinkled throughout, I found the book as a whole to be utterly boring.
The author uses examples of abandoned areas on earth now, such as the exclusion zone around Chernobyl and the DMZ on Cyprus to try and show what our planet used to look like before civilization came along.
He sites the work of researchers all over the world documenting the accumulation of waste and garbage that already clogs our oceans and beaches, such as the great Pacific gyre, and attempts to give an idea of how long it will take mother nature to clean up after us.
He also talks about the 400+ nuclear power plants and waste storage sites all over the world and gives an estimate of how long it would take to decay below lethal levels.
This is not light reading and the book assumes the reader has some basic scientific knowledge, but the style and prose are reader friendly.
Recommended for anyone with an environmental bent or those who just want to know what we might leave behind us.