on 24 August 2007
Many modern natural history books seem to fit into one of two distinct categories - one concentrating on what is wrong with the world, and the other focusing on what we have and trying to ignore the problems. Therefore it is refreshing to find a book that manages to combine the brutal facts about the state of the planets 'hotspots' with hope for their future in a way that does not appear oxymoron.
Dancing at the Dead Sea is basically a collection of the author's newspaper articles adjusted and sewn together to form a book that amounts to a memoir of a couple of years Mitchell spent visiting some of the worlds most ravaged environments in a quest to find out what the human race needs to do and why it isn't doing it.
Although the language and metaphors are at times rather self-indulgent, and the basic message is repeated a little too often in the same way - involving a comparison of Darwin's time with our own - this is overall a very well written account of the worlds most troubled areas.
As well as incorporating her own experiences and incites Mitchell also includes those of the various experts, scientists and indigenous peoples she encounters along the way. Her descriptions of the environments and the wildlife found there are vivid as are her explanations of the damage these environment have sustained and the hope for the future.
After all her adventures Mitchell concludes that the world is in such a bad state because people cant see the big picture and don't understand that resources are running out. This is a forgiving idea compared with the popular opinion among conservationists that the human race just cant be bothered!