January 2, 2008
Reading Recommendations: The World Without Us, Alan Weisman
In the World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity's impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth without us.
In this far reaching narrative, Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence: which everyday items would become immortalized as fossils; how copper pipes and wiring would be crushed into mere seams of reddish rock; why some of our earliest buildings might be the last architecture left; and how plastic, bronze sculpture, radio waves, and some man-made molecules may be our most lasting gifts to the universe.
The World Without Us reveals how, just days after humans disappear, floods in New York's subways would start eroding the city's foundations, and how, as the world's cities crumble, asphalt jungles would give way to real ones. It describes the distinct ways that organic and chemically treated farms would revert to wild, how billions more birds would flourish and how cockroaches in unheated cities would perish without us. Drawing on the expertise of engineers, atmospheric scientists, art conservators, zoologists, oil refiners, marine biologists, astrophysicists, religious leaders from rabbis to the Dalai Lama, and paleontologists, who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths. Weisman illustrates what the planet would be like today, if not for us.
From places already devoid of humans (a last fragment of primeval European forest; the Korean DMZ, Chernobyl), Weisman reveals Earth's tremendous capacity for self healing.
This is narrative non-fiction at its best and looks deeply at our efforts on the planet no other book has.
And, The Not So Big House, Making Room for What Really Matters, Sarah Susanka
Have you ever found yourself asking, "Is this all there is to life?" Or wondering if this bigger life you have created is actually a better life? And do you wonder how it all got so out of control?
In her groundbreaking best seller The Not So Big Life, architect Susan Susanka showed us a new way to inhabit our houses by creating homes that were better, not bigger. Now in The Not So Big Life, Susanka takes her revolutionary philosophy to another dimension by showing us a new way to inhabit our lives.
And, The Day of Battle, the War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, Volume II of the Liberation Trilogy, Rick Atkison
In An Army at Dawn, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Rick Atkison provided a dramatic and authoritative history of the Allied triumph in North Africa. Now, in The Day of Battle, he follows the American and British armies as they invade Sicily in July 1943, attack mainland Italy two months later and then fight their way, mile by bloody mile, north toward Rome.
The Italian campaign's outcome was never certain, in fact, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and their military advisors bitterly debated whether an invasion of the so-called soft underbelly of Europe was even wise. But once underway, the commitment to liberate Italy from the Nazi's never wavered, despite the agonizing price. The battles of Salerno, Anzio, the Rapido River, and Casino were particularly ferocious and lethal, yet, as the months passed, the Allied Forces continued to drive the Germans up the Italian peninsula led by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, one of the war's most complex and controversial commanders, American troops became increasingly determined and proficient. With the liberation of Rome in June 1944, ultimate victory in Europe at last began to seem inevitable.
Drawing on extensive new material from a wide array of sources, written with great drama and flair, according to my husband and son, this is narrative history of the first rank. Rick Atkison has given us the definite account of one of history's most compelling campaigns.
Best wishes for the holidays and 2008.
See you at Rylander!