Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History Hardcover – 13 Feb 2014

4.7 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

See all 15 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price
New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Hardcover, 13 Feb 2014
£32.35 £25.98
click to open popover

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.



Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing (13 Feb. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408851210
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408851210
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 355,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

Product description

Review

A distinctive and eloquent voice of conscience ... In her timely, meticulously researched and well-written book, Kolbert combines scientific analysis and personal narratives to explain it to us. The result is a clear and comprehensive history of earth's previous mass extinctions ... "People change the world," Kolbert writes, and vividly presents the science and history of the current crisis. Her extensive travels in researching this book, and her insightful treatment of both the history and the science all combine to make The Sixth Extinction an invaluable contribution to our understanding of present circumstances, just as the paradigm shift she calls for is sorely needed (Al Gore, New York Times)

I tore through Elizabeth Kolbert's The Sixth Extinction with a mix of awe and terror. Her long view of extinction excited my joy in life's diversity - even as she made me aware how many species are currently at risk (Dava Sobel, author of Longitude and A More Perfect Heaven)

Elizabeth Kolbert writes with an aching beauty of the impact of our species on all the other forms of life known in this cold universe. The perspective is at once awe-inspiring, humbling and deeply necessary (T.C. Boyle)

Well-composed snapshots of history, theory and observation that will fascinate, enlighten and appal many readers (Guardian)

Compelling ... It is a disquieting tale, related with rigour and restraint by Kolbert (Observer)

Passionate ... This is the big story of our age. We are living through the historically rare elimination of vast numbers of species. And for the first time, it is our fault ... Uplifting prose about the wonders of nature. But the overwhelming message of this book is as clear as that of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring in 1962. We humans have become a geological force in our own right - and, unless we act, the consequences will be devastating (Sunday Times)

It is oddly pleasurable to read Elizabeth's Kolbert's new book, which offers a ramble through mass extinctions, present and past ... A wonderful chapter covers the North Atlantic's once-abundant, flightless great auks ... Wisely, Ms Kolbert refuses to end on an optimistic note (Economist)

Kolbert has not only grasped the enormity of what we are unleashing, but can present it in a way that even the average human with a short historical attention span can grasp. Read this book (Peter Forbes, Independent)

Kolbert is a witty, deft writer with an eye for vivid colour. She takes us from sun-blistered desert islands on the Great Barrier Reef to the sopping Peruvian jungle ... Hers is a deadly message, delivered in elegant prose, and we can't afford to ignore it (Philip Hoare, Sunday Telegraph)

a book that can be dipped into or read from cover to cover. (Biologist)

Book Description

A major book about the future of the world, blending natural history, field reporting and the history of ideas and into a powerful account of the mass extinction happening today

See all Product description

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Reading this book one chapter at a time because its possibly the saddest book I ever read. Sad that the author writes about a frog nearing extinction in 2014 only to be reading the book in 2017 and the last of its species has died.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Fabulously well written and researched. The author make remarkable statements and backs up her assertions with expert testimonies. The book really brings home some comfortable and uncomfortable facts and is succinct in its point! Definitely an epic and eye opening read for anyone interested in our effect on this planet
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
interesting read
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A wonderful read, very thought provoking.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
As a former invertebrate paleobiologist, "The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History" is the book I have been waiting for years to be written. It is a clarion call for ending the current mass extinction that we humans are causing, and a book that should be, according to Scientific American, "this era's galvanizing text", worthy of comparison with Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring". It is also a vastly superior popular science book than last year's "Scatter, Adapt, and Remember: How Humans Will Survive a Mass Extinction" written by IO9 science editor Annalee Newitz, simply because Elizabeth Kolbert, a staff writer at The New Yorker, has done a superlative job in science reporting, accurately reporting and interpreting work done by some of the most notable researchers of our time studying mass extinctions, whether it is research from Berkeley vertebrate paleobiologist Anthony Barnosky (The lead author of a 2011 Nature paper estimating that current extinction rates are equivalent to those of the five great mass extinctions recognized from the fossil record; the terminal Ordovician, terminal Permian, terminal Triassic and the terminal Cretaceous; the latter in which non-avian dinosaurs became extinct.) or American Museum of Natural History curator of invertebrate paleontology Neil Landman, a noted researcher of Cretaceous ammonites, or evolutionary geneticist and anthropologist Svante Paabo, whose team is sequencing the entire Neanderthal genome and recognized the existence of another late Pleistocene hominid species, the Denisovans, from genomic material in a fragment of a finger bone found in a Siberian cave.Read more ›
1 Comment 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
This is a truly significant book for our time and a model for how to write popular science. Kolbert doesn't duck the hard scientific facts, or the sometimes subtle and conflcting nature of the evidence, but she puts the whole thing across in lively, easy to read and often witty prose, with judiciously placed amusing, always relevant, anecdotes to maintain the reader's interest and keep the focus human.

I have only one reservation, and it's not about the author and certainly not about her sparkling writing, nor is it about her scrupulous reporting of the science: no, it's about the book as a production (and I'm writing about the hardback).

I found quite early on that I wanted to go to the web and google images -- to see pictures of the sites she visits where research is going on, the institutions where she interviews researchers, and many, many of the large numbers of animals, plants and trees she discusses. By the time I reached the middle of the book, I was almost using it as a sort of guide or handbook to digging further with the help of search engines.

I realise that to include several pages of colour photographs would have pushed the price of the book so high as to defeat its purpose of getting the information out to as large a number of people as possible, but I do think it's a shame there weren't at least a dozen or so such photographs. I should note that there are several low-resolution black-and-white images scattered throughout, but they're barely adequate, and no match for Kolbert's vivid prose.

I suppose future editions might carry an accompanying CD or DVD without making the publication too expensive. I did find that if I didn't actually see the things the author depicts, I was getting lost in abstractions.
Read more ›
2 Comments 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
There have been five major extinction events in the geologic record, which obliterated most of life, up to 95 percent in one case. Some took a long while; at least one, about 65 million years ago, was quicker, the result of a massive meteor slamming into Earth, sending up clouds of dust that darkened the sky for years. That took care of the dinosaurs, and much else besides.

Now, according to the scientists who Elizabeth Kolbert talks to in her book, The Sixth Extinction, we’re at another end-of-life epoch, called the Anthropocene. The cause? The name hints at it: a hyper-successful invasive species that has spread to every continent, the weed’s weed—human beings, the primate that uses symbols and thus effective communication to take over all it sees.

How is it that we are killing off plant and animal species with such dexterity and speed? Like everything that we do, we do it in myriad ways. We take over other species’ habitats for our homes, farms, and factories, forcing them to migrate to less hospitable locales to which they are ill-adapted. We load the atmosphere with carbon, playing havoc with the weather and speeding acidification of the ocean, while simultaneously decimating fish stocks to the point of extinction. And we’re effectively bringing together continents that had been separate for millions of years, allowing other invasive species to thrive and push out native species of plants and animals. For instance, amphibians are succumbing worldwide to a fungus—chytrid—that has been transported around the world by humans; all those cute, exotic frog and toad species are going extinct now at an alarmingly rapid clip.

That last is one of Kolbert’s main points. Species have always gone extinct; death happens.
Read more ›
Comment 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews