For armchair conservationists, an expertly guided trip into remote landscapes that will hopefully spur much-needed action.




A field biologist seeks to understand how creatures living in the planet’s extremes are coping with climate change.

Berger (Chair, Wildlife Conservation/Colorado State Univ.; The Better to Eat You With: Fear in the Animal World, 2008, etc.), a senior scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society, has made some 33 expeditions, 19 of them to the Arctic (“from Alaska to Russia and Greenland to Svalbard”) and others to Mongolia, the Himalayas, and the Tibetan Plateau. Some of the creatures he has studied are relatively familiar to general readers—e.g., musk oxen, caribou, and bears—but others (chiru, takin, goral, khulan, saiga) are not. His encounters with wildlife take place under the harshest of conditions, and a major part of his story includes the rigors of getting to a site and figuring out how to study an elusive subject in truly brutal surroundings. Readers interested in conservation and climate will not be disappointed, but Berger, who writes with humor and self-awareness, also gives lessons on geography, culture, and politics. He often works with Indigenous people who have their own ideas about the animals and land around them. Climate change is not the only threat he sees; the impacts of a growing human population also concern him. The author seeks to understand the myriad ways in which animals adapt to change, which ones are successful and which are not and why, and what can we do about it. There is a note of guarded optimism in the final chapter, in which Berger cites conservation successes while bemoaning the general apathy. “When there is no room in our hearts for gentleness,” he writes, “and when sympathy disappears from our vocabulary, so does conservation.” One disappointing feature are the photos, which are too small; the text deserves better.

For armchair conservationists, an expertly guided trip into remote landscapes that will hopefully spur much-needed action.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-226-36626-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Univ. of Chicago

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...


Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

Did you like this book?