The World Without Us (Paperback)
reviewed by Dave C.
This book covers an amazing variety of fascinating historic, geographic, and scientific topics in only 250 pages. The author’s purpose is to explore what would happen if people suddenly vanished from the earth, something he thinks is pretty unlikely, but which poses a lot of interesting questions. He looks at what might happen to animals, plants, buildings, roads, bridges, and evaluates what the long and short-term effects of mankind would be on the planet. Along the way he describes how the earth and it’s inhabitants developed and how things got the way they are, covering many of the same topics described by Jared Diamond in his books “Guns, Germs, and Steel”, and “Collapse”. However, I found this book to be much more readable, probably due to the author’s journalistic style of writing.
I don’t think I discovered any great new truths from this book, but I certainly enjoyed learning about unusual places and things such as:
− the abandoned beach resort town in Cyprus which has remained empty since the island was partitioned in 1974;
− how the Korean DMZ has become a refuge for endangered species of wildlife;
− vast ancient underground cities in Turkey;
and a lot more. I’m certain I did gain a new appreciation for the complexity of relationships between man and the natural world. But mostly I was really entertained!
I definitely recommend this book.
Men's Discussion Group selection, July 2019, Redbery Books, Cable, WI.— From Men's Discussion Group
Fall '08/Winter '09 Reading Group List
“With the help of engineers, art conservators, zoologists, religious leaders, and paleontologists, Weisman looks at what would happen if humans disappeared. Let's face it, things fall apart -- but how? This thought-provoking book looks to the past and the future, and offers much to discuss and debate.”
— Barbara Theroux, Fact & Fiction, Missoula, MT
Time #1 Nonfiction Book of 2007
Entertainment Weekly #1 Nonfiction Book of 2007
Finalist for the 2007 National Book Critics Circle Award
Salon Book Awards 2007
Amazon Top 100 Editors' Picks of 2007 (#4)
Barnes and Noble 10 Best of 2007: Politics and Current Affairs
Kansas City Star's Top 100 Books of the Year 2007
Mother Jones' Favorite Books of 2007
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Best Books of the Year 2007
Hudson's Best Books of 2007
St. Louis Post-Dispatch Best Books of 2007
St. Paul Pioneer Press Best Books of 2007
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? In his revelatory, bestselling account, Alan Weisman draws on every field of science to present an environmental assessment like no other, the most affecting portrait yet of humankind's place on this planet.
About the Author
Alan Weisman teaches international journalism at the University of Arizona. He is also 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. Formerly a contributing editor to the Los Angeles Times Magazine, he is now a senior radio producer for Homelands Productions. He is the author of 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)