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The Human Age

The World Shaped By Us

Diane Ackerman (Author)

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Winner of the 2015 National Outdoor Book Award for Natural History Literature and the 2015 PEN New England Henry David Thoreau Prize.

A dazzling, inspiring tour through the ways that humans are working with nature to try to save the planet.

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 Age is a wise and beautiful book that will astound, delight, and inform intelligent life for a long time to come.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • September 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35164-4
  • 5.6 × 8.3 in / 352 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Singapore and Malaysia, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverThe Human Age: The World Shaped By Us

    Hardcover

Awards

Endorsements & Reviews

“An ode to the planet we’ve created for ourselves… Rarely grim, and the overwhelming spirit is one of relentless optimism.” — Nathanial Rich, New York Times

“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

“In this amazingly illuminating book, Diane Ackerman explains our future with her typically intoxicating blend of scholarship, wisdom, grace and humor.” — Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies

The Human Age allows us to consider whether or not we will accept destruction or restoration as our legacy. I cannot imagine a richer text of image and insight, rendered with grace, intelligence and stamina.” — Terry Tempest Williams, author of When Women Were Birds

“With this stirringly vivid, darkbright manifesto, Diane Ackerman summons us to the wager of sheer possibility: life against death, delight still (if only just barely) trouncing despair.” — Lawrence Weschler, author of Everything that Rises, Pulitzer Prize finalist

“A book to dip around in—skimming some parts and perusing others with care—as your interest guides you, enjoying Ackerman’s profound sense of mind play as you go.” — Ben Dickinson, Elle

“A hard look at the impact that humans have had on Earth… thought provoking.” — Kyle Anderson, Entertainment Weekly

“Fascinating… Ackerman offers a cross-cultural tour of human ingenuity … Her words invite us to feel the hope she feels.” — Barbara J. King, Washington Post

“Part immersion memoir and part journalism… The Human Age is also many parts poetry.” — Beth Kephart, Chicago Tribune

“[A] thought-provoking analysis of our connection to the earth… A lens that magnifies and clarifies the fascinating, far-reaching effects humans have had on our planet and ourselves.” — Lee E. Cart, Shelf Awareness

“Ackerman is a gorgeous writer and perceptive observer. Here she writes with great empathy about the human plight.” — Kate Tuttle, Boston Globe

“A humdinger of a book… Ackerman is optimistic, even exhilarated, and frequently giddy about the future of humanity.” — Jon Christensen, San Francisco Chronicle

“Exquisite and startling.” — Tim Flannery, Harper's Magazine

Also by Diane Ackerman All

  1. Book CoverDawn Light: Dancing with Cranes and Other Ways to Start the Day

    Paperback

  2. Book CoverOne Hundred Names for Love: A Memoir

    Paperback

  3. Book CoverThe Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story

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