The Sixth Extinction

Journeys Among the Lost and Left Behind

Terry Glavin

Thomas Dunne Books

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The Sixth Extinction is a haunting account of the age in which we live. Ecologists are calling it the Sixth Great Extinction, and the world isn’t losing just its ecological legacy; also vanishing is a vast human legacy of languages and our ways of living, seeing, and knowing.
Terry Glavin confirms that we are in the midst of a nearly unprecedented, catastrophic vanishing of animals, plants, and human cultures. He argues that the language of environmentalism is inadequate in describing the unraveling of the vast system in which all these extinctions are actually related. And he writes that we’re no longer gaining knowledge with every generation. We’re losing it. 
In the face of what he describes as a dark and gathering sameness upon the Earth, Glavin embarks on a global journey to meet the very things we’re losing (a distinct species every ten minutes, a unique vegetable variety every six hours, an entire language every two weeks) and on the way encounters some of the world’s wonderful, rare things: a human-sized salmon in Russia; a mysterious Sino-Tibetan song-language; a Malayan tiger, the last of its kind; and a strange tomato that tastes just like black cherry ice cream. And he finds hope in the most unlikely places---a macaw roost in Costa Rica; a small village in Ireland; a relic community of Norse whalers in the North Atlantic; the vault beneath the Royal Botanical Garden at Kew; and the throne room of the Angh of Longwa in the eastern Himalayas.
A fresh narrative take on the usual doom and gloom environmentalism, The Sixth Extinction draws upon zoology, biology, ecology, anthropology, and mythology to share the joys hidden within the long human struggle to conserve the world’s living things. Here, we find hope in what’s left: the absolute and stunning beauty in the Earth’s last cultures and creatures.

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Book Excerpts

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Chapter One

Night of the Living Dead

I was greatly disturbed at the apparition. I walked to the left along the slope, turning my head about and peering this way and that among the straight stems of the trees. Why should a man go on all-fours and drink with his lips? Presently I heard an animal wailing again, and taking it to be the puma, I turned about and walked in a direction diametrically opposite to the sound.

—H.G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau

The tiger lay in a clearing in the twilight, on the other side of a trickling stream, perhaps ten metres from where

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Praise for The Sixth Extinction

Praise for The Sixth Extinction:
"Striking and original. In a fresh and eloquent synthesis of diverse phenomena, Glavin describes some of the consequences. Insightful and poignant."--Publishers Weekly (starred)
"A startling new definition of extinction that includes not only loss of animal species but also disappearing aspects of the human condition. In prose that tempts the reader to linger over each word, he turns a book of science and natural history into an elegy to the world in which we live and so casually disregard, creating nonfiction with a poet's heart and a message of the utmost importance."--Booklist
“Asks us to care, deeply, about living in the midst of the greatest extinction rates of the past 65 million years. If there’s room for hope, it can be found in a book like this.”--The Globe and Mail
“In his engaging and powerfully written work Terry Glavin takes the reader on a cook’s tour of the catacalysmic; the linked global extinction of wildlife, foods, cultures, and language. Like Rachael Carson, E. O. Wilson, and others of vision, Glavin documents the blank terror, complexity, and danger of the human enterprise’s impact on our living planet while also finding hidden springs of hope and purpose. After reading The Sixth Extinction you may find surprising cause to smile through the tears.”--David Helvarg, author The War Against the Greens and Blue Frontier
“Glavin is one of the prophets of our time. He is able to see things that others do not or will not see, and then put together these disparate pieces to make a new whole. Not only can he see them but he can spin them into stories that speak to the deepest, most primal parts of the human brain.”--The Literary Review of Canada
“An urgent, necessary book. Glavin writes with both passion and authority. Do yourself and this struggling world a favor: let this book . . . break your heart. Let it stir your soul.”--Mark Abley, author of Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages
“A haunting reminder of the scale and breadth of what can only be described as a catastrophe of the human spirit and imagination. Glavin’s remarkable book leaves little doubt that this is indeed the central challenge of our times.”--Wade Davis, author of One River and Explorer-in-Residence, National Geographic Society
“A wise and eloquent writer whose clear-eyed intelligence explores our conflicted relationship with nature. What Glavin has to tell is urgent, important, and well said.”--Ronald Wright, author of A Short History of Progress
“I don’t have the space here to do full justice to Glavin’s poignant personal odyssey. But I will say that for all the ominous portents, he’s no apocalyptic environmental Jeremiah fired with misanthropic zeal. He’s an optimist. He has faith in humanity. He sees glimmers of hope already coalescing in the gathering storm.”--The Vancouver Sun

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About the Author

Terry Glavin

Terry Glavin has been a reporter, editor, and columnist for the Globe and Mail and the Vancouver Sun, as well as an adviser to Canada’s Sierra Club. He is an adjunct professor in the Department of Theater, Film, and Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.

Terry Glavin


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Available Formats and Book Details

The Sixth Extinction
Journeys Among the Lost and Left Behind
Terry Glavin

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
Thomas Dunne Books
June 2014
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466873582
ISBN10: 1466873582
336 pages

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Thomas Dunne Books

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