As Diane Ackerman writes in her brilliant new book, The Human Age, “our relationship with nature has changed…radically, irreversibly, but by no means all for the bad. Our new epoch is laced with invention. Our mistakes are legion, but our talent is immeasurable.”
Ackerman is justly celebrated for her unique insight into the natural world and our place in it. In this landmark book, she confronts the unprecedented reality that one prodigiously intelligent and meddlesome creature, Homo sapiens, is now the dominant force shaping the future of planet Earth.
Humans have “subdued 75 percent of the land surface, concocted a wizardry of industrial and medical marvels, strung lights all across the darkness.” We tinker with nature at every opportunity; we garden the planet with our preferred species of plants and animals, many of them invasive; and we have even altered the climate, threatening our own extinction. Yet we reckon with our own destructive capabilities in extraordinary acts of hope-filled creativity: we collect the DNA of vanishing species in a “frozen ark,” equip orangutans with iPads, and create wearable technologies and synthetic species that might one day outsmart us. With her distinctive gift for making scientific discovery intelligible to the layperson, Ackerman takes us on an exhilarating journey through our new reality, introducing us to many of the people and ideas now creating—perhaps saving—our future and that of our fellow creatures.
A beguiling, optimistic engagement with the changes affecting every part of our lives, The Human Ageis a wise and beautiful book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.
“[Ackerman] raises the bar for her peers…her penetrating insight is a joy to behold.” (Publishers Weekly, Starred review)
“Ackerman has established herself over the last quarter of a century as one of our most adventurous, charismatic, and engrossing public science writers…she has demonstrated a rare versatility, a contagious curiosity, and a gift for painting quick, memorable tableaus drawn from research across a panoply of disciplines. The Human Age displays all of these alluring qualities…The Human Age is a dazzling achievement: immensely readable, lively, polymathic, audacious.” (Rob Nixon – New York Times Book Review)
“Diane Ackerman’s vivid writing, inexhaustible stock of insights, and unquenchable optimism have established her as a national treasure, and as one of our great authors. You’re now about to become addicted to Diane Ackerman.” (Jared Diamond, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Guns, Germs, and Steel and The World Until Yesterday)