Elegant, suggestive, and clarifying, Lewis Thomas's profoundly humane vision explores the world around us and examines the complex interdependence of all things. Extending beyond the usual limitations of biological science and into a vast and wondrous world of hidden relationships, this provocative book explores in personal, poetic essays to topics such as computers, germs, language, music, death, insects, and medicine. Lewis Thomas writes, Once you have become permanently startled, as I am, by the realization that we are a social species, you tend to keep an eye out for the pieces of evidence that this is, by and large, good for us.
More than 370 edible wild plants, plus 37 poisonous lookalikes, are described here, with 400 drawings and 78 color photographs showing precisely how to recognize each species. Also included are habitat descriptions, lists of plants by season, and preparation instructions for 22 different food uses.
Simon Winchester, New York Times bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, examines the legendary annihilation in 1883 of the volcano-island of Krakatoa, which was followed by an immense tsunami that killed nearly forty thousand people. The effects of the immense waves were felt as far away as France. Barometers in Bogota and Washington, D.C., went haywire. Bodies were washed up in Zanzibar. The sound of the island's destruction was heard in Australia and India and on islands thousands of miles away. Most significant of all -- in view of today's new political climate -- the eruption helped to trigger in Java a wave of murderous anti-Western militancy among fundamentalist Muslims, one of the first outbreaks of Islamic-inspired killings anywhere. Krakatoa gives us an entirely new perspective on this fascinating and iconic event.
The story of two generations of scientific explorers in South America--Richard Evans Schultes and his prot g Wade Davis--an epic tale of adventure and a compelling work of natural history.In 1941, Professor Richard Evan Schultes took a leave from Harvard and disappeared into the Amazon, where he spent the next twelve years mapping uncharted rivers and living among dozens of Indian tribes. In the 1970s, he sent two prize students, Tim Plowman and Wade Davis, to follow in his footsteps and unveil the botanical secrets of coca, the notorious source of cocaine, a sacred plant known to the Inca as the Divine Leaf of Immortality. A stunning account of adventure and discovery, betrayal and destruction, One River is a story of two generations of explorers drawn together by the transcendent knowledge of Indian peoples, the visionary realms of the shaman, and the extraordinary plants that sustain all life in a forest that once stood immense and inviolable.
"A thoughtful examination of the machinery of extinction . . . By turns harrowing and elegiac, thrilling and informative." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
Three or four times an hour, eighty or more times a day, a unique species of plant or animal vanishes forever. And yet, every so often one of these lost species resurfaces. "Having adventures most of us can only dream about" (The Times-Picayune), Scott Weidensaul pursues stories of loss and recovery, of endurance against the odds, and of surprising resurrections.
Focusing on the human relationship with plants, the author uses botany to explore four basic human desires--sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control--through portraits of four plants that embody them: the apple, tulip, marijuana, and potato.
"Wonderful....Jared Diamond conducts his fascinating study of our behavior and origins with a naturalist's eye and a philosopher's cunning." --Diane Ackerman, author of A Natural History of the Senses
In this fascinating, provocative, passionate, funny, endlessly entertaining work, renowned Pulitzer Prize-winning author and scientist Jared Diamond, author of Gun, Germs, and Steel, explores how the extraordinary human animal, in a remarkably short time, developed the capacity to rule the world . . . and the means to irrevocably destroy it.
We human beings share 98 percent of our genes with chimpanzees. Yet humans are the dominant species on the planet--having founded civilizations and religions, developed intricate and diverse forms of communication, learned science, built cities, and created breathtaking works of art--while chimps remain animals concerned primarily with the basic necessities of survival. What is it about that two percent difference in DNA that has created such a divergence between evolutionary cousins?
The Third Chimpanzee is a tour de force, an iconoclastic, compelling, sometimes alarming look at the unique and marvelous creature that is the human animal.