BookShelf

Ursine Odyssey Seeks Insight Into Future for Bears

A new book takes readers around the planet to better understand the world’s eight bear species and our relationships with them, including not just how we’ve popularized some but also the many ways we’ve mistreated or pushed others to the brink of extinction. In the new BookShelf, Frances Backhouse reviews Gloria Dickie’s just-published volume, “Eight Bears.” Plus, Freelance Files interviews Dickie.

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The Seven Stages of Beach Exploitation (and Restoration)

When most people think of coastal tourist destinations, they imagine beaches lined by palm trees and exclusive resorts. But those are exactly the kind of realities that contribute to the environmental and economic decline of coastal communities and their local residents, argues a new book. Contributing Editor Jenny Weeks has our review in the new BookShelf.

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How Phosphorus Helped Feed a World — And an Invasion of Algae

The world has heard all about how algae has spread harmfully in large waterways. Now a new book, “The Devil’s Element,” zeroes in on phosphorus, which not only helped feed humanity but also fueled algae’s dangerous blooms. Plus, why soap bubbles turned out to be bad for the environment. A review of the new volume, from BookShelf Editor Tom Henry.

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With 'Silent Spring Revolution,' Historian Brings Pivotal Environmental Era to Life

For BookShelf Editor Tom Henry, historian Douglas Brinkley's latest volume is a remarkable opportunity for anyone seeking an in-depth understanding of the “Great Environmental Awakening” and the myriad personalities that helped drive it. And not just the names you’d expect, but unlikely ones such as convicted Watergate figure John Ehrlichman, MLK Jr. widow Coretta Scott King and UAW President Walter Reuther. Discover what other lessons abound in this “utterly brilliant” new book.

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Tracing Humanity’s Longtime Urge To Manage Moving Water

When humans began to put down roots, we also started to forge what Giulio Boccaletti calls a “social contract” with water. In his new book, “Water: A Biography,” the London-based scientist explores that relationship through a long historical lens. BookShelf contributor Gary Wilson reviews the volume and finds that political ambitions and economic development are central to the story.

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Koalas, Under Pressure From Wildfires and Development, Are Beloved But Undefended

The cuteness of the fuzzy koala appears not to be winning it special protection in its native Australia, despite dwindling numbers, per a new volume on the endangered marsupial. BookShelf contributor Melody Kemp offers praise for “Koala: A Natural History and an Uncertain Future,” with a review that begins amusingly with bodily functions but ends dispiritedly with yet more koala habitat lost to housing tracts and wildfire.

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Straddling the Narrow Divides Between Humans, Animals and Environmental Policy

Prolific author-environmentalist Dave Dempsey’s new book, “Half Wild: People, Dogs, and Environmental Policy,” examines the complex boundaries between humans, wildlife and wilderness in a brief volume that includes vignettes of bears scouring trash heaps and of bourbon-fueled debates over the gap between conservationists and environmentalists. Not to mention bonus observations about his relationship with dogs. Contributor Gary Wilson has a review for our latest BookShelf.

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Weather Nerd ‘Looks Up’ and Finds Science, Meaning in Stormy Skies

Gen Z weather hotshot Matthew Cappucci recounts his rapid, if uneven, rise into major media meteorology in his new book, “Looking Up.” Along the way, he talks about weather — and the science behind it — in a way that reporters who cover storms can make good use of. Jenny Weeks reviews the volume for BookShelf.

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New Kolbert Volume Addresses Value of Human Efforts To Control Nature

When engineers reversed the Chicago River, they also upended a hydrologic system that years later required electrification to repel an invasive species threatening a major fishery. This is but one example from the latest book by New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert of the unintended consequences of human actions to dominate nature that may solve one problem only to create another. BookShelf contributor Gary Wilson has a review.

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How a Distant Chapter in Spice Trade Foretells Today’s Climate Chaos

When Europeans colonized remote Indonesian islands centuries ago to dominate the trade in nutmeg and cloves, they were repeating a pattern of domination of peoples and nature that author Amitav Ghosh argues in his latest book has brought us to the present-day environmental crisis. BookShelf reviewer Melody Kemp offers praise for the book’s strong narrative qualities and incisive historical analysis.

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