The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples

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In The Eternal Frontier, world-renowned scientist and historian Tim Flannery tells the unforgettable story of the geological and biological evolution of the North American continent, from the time of the asteroid strike that ended the age of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, to the present day. Flannery describes the development of North America's deciduous forests and other flora, and tracks the immigration and emigration of various animals to and from Europe, Asia, and South America, showing how plant and animal species have either adapted or become extinct. The story takes in the massive changes wrought by the ice ages and the coming of the Indians, and continues right up to the present, covering the deforestation of the Northeast, the decimation of the buffalo, and other facets of the enormous impact of frontier settlement and the development of the industrial might of the United States. Natural history on a monumental scale, The Eternal Frontier contains an enormous wealth of fascinating scientific details, and Flannery's accessible and dynamic writing makes the book a delight to read. This is science writing at its very best -- a riveting page-turner that is simultaneously an accessible and scholarly trove of incredible information that is already being hailed by critics as a classic. "Tim Flannery's account ... will fascinate Americans and non-Americans alike." -- Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel "No one before Flannery ... has been brave enough to tackle the whole pageant of North America." -- David Quammen, the New York Times Book Review "Tim Flannery's book will forever change your perspective on the North American continent ... Exhilarating." -- John Terborgh, The New York Review of Books "Full of engaging and attention-catching information about North America's geology, climate, and paleontology." -- Patricia Nelson Limerick, the Washington Post Book World "Natural history par excellence." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "This gutsy Aussie may have read our landscape and ecological history with greater clarity than any native son." -- David A. Burney, Natural History "A fascinating, current, and insightful look at our familiar history from a larger perspective." -- David Bezanson, Austin-American Statesman "The scope of [Flannery's] story is huge, and his research exhaustive." -- Lauren Gravitz, The Christian Science Monitor

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Reading The Eternal Frontier might be the closest you'll get to taking a class from Tim Flannery--and that alone makes it an opportunity just too good to pass up. This ambitious retelling of North America's dramatic ecological history grew out of a course that Flannery taught at Harvard surveying the continent's ancient past up to its tumultuous near-present: from the extraterrestrial "death-dealing visitor" that struck 65 million years ago all the way through to the tidal invasions, adaptations, and extinctions that have washed over North America since, each idiosyncratically influenced by an ever-changing geology, geography, and climate.

Flannery admirably balances his twin roles as scientist and storyteller. As a thoughtful teacher, he employs memorable and effective examples to illustrate broader topics, but he's also willing to commit to theoretical explanations (with fair warning) when necessary to thread together the narrative. But Flannery's greatest strength might simply be the empathy he inspires as a fellow human being trying to sort out an intricate, often richly beautiful puzzle. It's hard not to identify with his curiosity and enthusiasm, whether he's recalling memories of late nights spent as a child reading the How and Why Book of Prehistoric Mammals (and the uintathere nightmares that followed) or just marveling over the vast American West from his window seat on a plane.

The Eternal Frontier certainly leaves you with a solid outline of the how, why, and when of North America's enigmatic ecology, and what the implications of a dwindling frontier have for our future. But don't be surprised when what you remember best are Flannery's countless details--worthy of repeating at any self-respecting pub--from marsupial sperm that swim in pairs to the reason that Native American cultures might owe their very existence to squirrels' taste in nuts. --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly:

If Nature itself has a nature, it's the desire for balance. In a fascinating chronicle of our continent's evolution, Flannery shows, however, that this desire must forever be frustrated. Flannery starts his tale with the asteroid collision that destroyed the dinosaurs, ends with the almost equally cataclysmic arrival of humankind and fills the middle with an engaging survey of invaders from other lands, wild speciation and an ever-changing climate, all of which have kept the ecology of North America in a constant state of flux. We see the rise of horses, camels and dogs (cats are Eurasian), the rapid extinction of mammoths, mastodons and other megafauna at the hands of prehistoric man, and the even quicker extinction of the passenger pigeon and other creatures more recently. Flannery also spotlights plenty of scientists at work, most notably one who tries to butcher an elephant as a prehistoric man would have butchered a mastodon, and another who had the intestinal fortitude to check whether meat would keep if a carcass were stored at the bottom of a frigid pond, the earliest of refrigerators. This material might be dense and academic in another's hands, but Flannery displays a light touch, a keen understanding of what will interest general readers and a good sense of structure, which keeps the book moving, manageable and memorable. (May)Forecast: Atlantic Monthly clearly intends to build on the reputation Flannery attained with his previous, highly acclaimed book, Throwim Way Leg and they may have a winner here. The first printing will be 60,000 copies, with a $100,000 promotional budget and a 21-city author tour.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Black Cat, United States, 2002. Paperback. Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English. Brand new Book. In The Eternal Frontier, world-renowned scientist and historian Tim Flannery tells the unforgettable story of the geological and biological evolution of the North American continent, from the time of the asteroid strike that ended the age of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, to the present day. Flannery describes the development of North America's deciduous forests and other flora, and tracks the immigration and emigration of various animals to and from Europe, Asia, and South America, showing how plant and animal species have either adapted or become extinct. The story takes in the massive changes wrought by the ice ages and the coming of the Indians, and continues right up to the present, covering the deforestation of the Northeast, the decimation of the buffalo, and other facets of the enormous impact of frontier settlement and the development of the industrial might of the United States. Natural history on a monumental scale, The Eternal Frontier contains an enormous wealth of fascinating scientific details, and Flannery's accessible and dynamic writing makes the book a delight to read. This is science writing at its very best -- a riveting page-turner that is simultaneously an accessible and scholarly trove of incredible information that is already being hailed by critics as a classic. "Tim Flannery's account . will fascinate Americans and non-Americans alike." -- Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel "No one before Flannery . has been brave enough to tackle the whole pageant of North America." -- David Quammen, the New York Times Book Review "Tim Flannery's book will forever change your perspective on the North American continent . Exhilarating." -- John Terborgh, The New York Review of Books "Full of engaging and attention-catching information about North America's geology, climate, and paleontology." -- Patricia Nelson Limerick, the Washington Post Book World "Natural history par excellence." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review) "This gutsy Aussie may have read our landscape and ecological history with greater clarity than any native son." -- David A. Burney, Natural History "A fascinating, current, and insightful look at our familiar history from a larger perspective." -- David Bezanson, Austin-American Statesman "The scope of [Flannery's] story is huge, and his research exhaustive." -- Lauren Gravitz, The Christian Science Monitor. Seller Inventory # AAC9780802138880

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