OVERRIDE

The World Without Us

Alan Weisman

Picador

A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
A Time Magazine Best Book of the Year
An Orion Book Award Finalist
Entertainment Weekly #1 Nonfiction Book of 2007
 
In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an original approach to questions of humanity’s impact on the planet: he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.
 
Weisman explains how our massive infrastructure would collapse and finally vanish without human presence; which everyday items may 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 Dali Lama, and paleontologists—who describe a prehuman world inhabited by megafauna like giant sloths that stood taller than mammoths—Weisman illustrates what the planet might 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. As he shows which human devastations are indelible, and which examples of our highest art and culture would endure longest, Weisman’s narrative ultimately drives toward a radical but persuasive solution that needn't depend on our demise. In posing a provocative concept with gravity in a highly readable presentation, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has.
 
The World Without Us is also available on CD as an unabridged audiobook.  Please email academic@macmillan.com for more information.

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One
A Lingering Scent of Eden
You may never have heard of the Bialowieza Puszcza. But if you were raised somewhere in the temperate swathe that crosses much of North America, Japan, Korea, Russia, several former Soviet republics, parts of China, Turkey, and Eastern and Western Europe—including the British Isles—something within you remembers it. If instead you were born to tundra or desert,subtropics or tropics, pampas or savannas, there are still places on Earth kindred to this puszcza to stir your memory, too. Puszcza, an old Polish word, means forest primeval. Straddling
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MEDIA

Watch

  • Alan Weisman, Author of The World Without Us

    Watch this amazing demonstration of what will happen to your house over the next 500 years when left to the forces of Mother Nature. Learn more about the post-human Earth in THE WORLD WITHOUT US, by Alan Weisman.

  • The World Without Us by Alan Weisman--Audiobook Excerpt

    Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Alan Weisman's book The World Without Us. If human beings disappeared instantaneously from the Earth, what would happen? How would the planet reclaim its surface? What creatures would emerge from the dark and swarm? How would our treasured structures--our tunnels, our bridges, our homes, our monuments--survive the unmitigated impact of a planet without our intervention?

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REVIEWS

Praise for The World Without Us

"This is one of the grandest thought experiments of our time, a tremendous feat of imaginative reporting."--Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future

"Brilliantly creative . . . An audacious intellectual adventure . . . His thought experiment is so intellectually fascinating, so oddly playful, that it escapes categorizing and clichés. . . . It sucks us in with a vision of what is, what has been, and what is yet to come. . . . It's a trumpet call that sounds from the other end of the universe and from inside us all."--Salon

"An astonishing mass of reportage that envisions a world suddenly bereft of humans."--The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

"A fascinating nonfiction eco-thriller . . . Weisman's gripping fantasy will make most readers hope that at least some of us can stick around long enough to see how it all turns out."--The New York Times Book Review

"Alan Weisman has produced, if not a Bible, at least a Book of Revelation."--Newsweek

"The book boasts an amazingly imaginative conceit that manages to tap into underlying fears and subtly inspire us to consider our interaction with the planet."--The Washington Post

"Extraordinarily farsighted . . . Beautiful and passionate."--The Boston Globe

"Grandly entertaining."--Time

"The World Without Us gradually reveals itself to be one of the most satisfying environmental books of recent memory, one devoid of self-righteousness, alarmism, or tiresome doomsaying."--Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"A refreshing, and oddly hopeful, look at the fate of the environment."--BusinessWeek

"This book is the very DNA of hope."--The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

"Prodigious and impressive."--The New York Times

"I don't think I've read a better nonfiction book this year."--Lev Grossman, Time Book Critic

"In his provocative new book, The World Without Us, Alan Weisman adds a dash of fiction to his science to address a despairing problem: the planet's health."—U.S. News & World Report

"An exacting account of the processes by which things fall apart. The scope is breathtaking . . . the clarity and lyricism of the writing itself left me with repeated gasps of recognition about the human condition. I believe it will be a classic."--Dennis Covington, author of National Book Award finalist Salvation on Sand Mountain

"One of the most ambitious 'thought experiments' ever."--The Cincinnati Enquirer

"Alan Weisman offers us a sketch of where we stand as a species that is both illuminating and terrifying. His tone is conversational and his affection for both Earth and humanity transparent."--Barry Lopez, author of Arctic Dreams

"Fascinating, mordant, deeply intelligent, and beautifully written, The World Without Us depicts the spectacle of humanity's impact on the planet Earth in tragically poignant terms that go far beyond the dry dictates of science. This is a very important book for a species playing games with its own destiny."--James Howard Kunstler, author of The Long Emergency

"Weisman's enthralling tour of the world of tomorrow explores what little will remain of ancient times while anticipating, often poetically, what a planet without us would be like."--Publishers Weekly (starred)

"The imaginative power of The World Without Us is compulsive and nearly hypnotic--make sure you have time to be kidnapped into Alan Weisman's alternative world before you sit down with the book, because you won't soon return. This is a text that has a chance to change people, and so make a real difference for the planet."--Charles Wohlforth, author of Los Angeles Times Book Prize–winning The Whale and the Supercomputer

"Weisman is a thoroughly engaging and clarion writer fueled by curiosity and determined to cast light rather than spread despair. His superbly well-researched and skillfully crafted stop-you-in-your-tracks report stresses the underappreciated fact that humankind's actions create a ripple effect across the web of life."--Booklist (starred)

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Alan Weisman

  • Alan Weisman is an award-winning journalist whose reports have appeared in Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, Discover, and on NPR, among others. A former contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, he is a senior radio producer for Homelands Productions and teaches international journalism at the University of Arizona. His essay "Earth Without People" (Discover magazine, February 2005), on which The World Without Us expands, was selected for Best American Science Writing 2006.

  • Alan Weisman
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Available Formats and Book Details

The World Without Us

Alan Weisman

ALA Notable Books - Winner, ALA Notable Books - Winner

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FROM THE PUBLISHER

Picador

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