The Sixth Extinction - Elizabeth Kolbert

The Sixth Extinction

By Elizabeth Kolbert

  • Release Date: 2014-02-11
  • Genre: Nature
Score: 4
From 560 Ratings



A major book about the future of the world, blending intellectual and natural history and field reporting into a powerful account of the mass extinction unfolding before our eyes

Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions, when the diversity of life on earth suddenly and dramatically contracted. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth extinction, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs. This time around, the cataclysm is us.

In The Sixth Extinction, two-time winner of the National Magazine Award and New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert draws on the work of scores of researchers in half a dozen disciplines, accompanying many of them into the field: geologists who study deep ocean cores, botanists who follow the tree line as it climbs up the Andes, marine biologists who dive off the Great Barrier Reef. She introduces us to a dozen species, some already gone, others facing extinction, including the Panamian golden frog, staghorn coral, the great auk, and the Sumatran rhino.

Through these stories, Kolbert provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy; as Kolbert observes, it compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.


  • The sixth extinction

    By Gumshoe Sticky
    Excellent mind wrapper about the nature of this the extinction caused by humans. With the demise of flora and fauna oddly there next to nothing about stopping the human catastrophe.
  • Sixth Extinction

    By bluebag1
    Excellent read. Good science. What I really like is how she travels the world meeting with a wide variety of scientist, all indirectly working on the same thing.
  • the 6th extinction

    By patents again
    Brilliantly written! logically tying together such a range of research and making logical sense is just remarkable. thanks for a great read.
  • What enjoyment I had reading your novel

    By Wat a sucky written review
    I enjoyed reading your novel very much out was very in detain in the discriptions and experiment details that once I started reading it it starting becoming that much more interesting that I count put it down it took me three to four days to read since I read it in between my day dreams and my work habits that it was on my mind almost every second this book was suggested on Facebook from one of my contacts that I have on my Facebook friends all they said was they read it so I'm saying I read it and would like to read more by this author in the future it had a firm grip on the reader from begging to end not like one of those books that's starts of boring from the begging and ends up being boring at the end the middle is a whole mother story but my favorite parto of f this book was the part when you were explaining the diversity side of extinction how the effects aren't just man made but also made by nature or a introduced species it was that good I'm glad to have payed for this book is rather have found it in the library but paying for it through iTunes means I can refer to it if I choose to for any referance to depicted references that I may look forward to in the future or even past present ordeals hahahaha but it was good I liked it a lot two thumbs
  • Interesting but Disconnected Stories

    By Pixelarum
    The author's experiences and stories are all interesting and educational but were not tied together in a way that showed relationships or deeper themes. While the conclusion is obvious (we need to be better stewards of the planet), the reader is left with a certain disconnectedness. Maybe an expanded 2e can tie things together better.
  • Good but...

    By Merc88
    Nice start and middle but is just fell off a cliff at the end. I was unsure I had finished it. Weak ending
  • Very enjoyable book

    By NateDogg213
    Even if you aren't a science nut, this is a highly annoyance read that makes you think about the impact we are having on the world around us.
  • Important read for understanding what humans are up to

    By halfacat
    This book is engrossing from the start and never let's up. The writer has extensively researched the subject matter and does a great job of jumping between history and current day issues regarding how large extinctions have and are happening on the planet. If you have trouble understanding what climate change is or want to engage deniers more intelligently then this book is a mist read. Understanding the thoroughness that scientists have put unto making their findings makes arguments against them pale. It requires a book like this to scratch the surface of what people are talking about when it comes to climate change.
  • The Sixth Extinction

    By Rodolfo1728
    Very knowledgable, interesting, given in a factual manner. Readable for the layman. I now understand better, the scientific theories of our time.
  • Fascinating!

    By Satyamlo
    This is an important book for anyone interested in the past and future of human existence. Shouldn't we all? Elizabeth Kolbert scientific writing is very clear, but also entertaining. I never thought that a book about bones and dying species would keep me reading as if it were a thriller. Actually, the Sixth Extinction is a thriller since it deals with our own survival. This book should be required reading in high school or college. Well done, Ms. Kolbert.