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The World Without Us
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Product Description

A penetrating, page-turning tour of a post-human Earth
In The World Without Us, Alan Weisman offers an utterly original approach to questions of humanity¡¯s impact on the planet:?he asks us to envision our Earth, without us.
In this far-reaching narrative, 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. It is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and in posing an irresistible concept with both gravity and a highly readable touch, it looks deeply at our effects on the planet in a way that no other book has.

Customer Reviews:

  • Save the Earth? [Required Reading!]
    This is the truth and fact about planet Earth's recovery from the chaos imposed by humanity. Save the Earth? The Earth is quite capable of taking care of itself, less us of course!

    This should be required reading for every graduating high school and/or college student. The real world they're inheriting!

    A brilliant read!...more info
  • Wiesman preaches the tenants of animism
    Weisman refers to many less-complex life-forms as our ancestors.
    Weisman prays to "Mother Earth" at the very end of the book.
    These are tenants of Animism or worshiping animals because they are your ancestors.
    Weisman proposes that watching animals and plants is more enjoyable than having raising children.
    Weisman anthromorphsizes evolution giving it or animals the power to design their genetic mutations.

    I won't even go into the way he practically deifies "Natural Selection" as if it actually could create new genetic information.

    The two interesting things I took from it were that "science" doesn't know how the oil deposits formed under the ocean and that "science" claims there are actual tree parts multiple millions of years old that have not fossilized.

    I also thought his description of the "Church of Euthanasia" was telling. Especially the four pillars of their faith.

    Not withstanding, I'm guessing that the "science" in the book was probably mostly accurate in capturing what "science" at the time of the writing was. Now that "Global Warming" has universally changed to "Climate Change" much of his references to rising oceans seem as quaint as discussions of light being conducted by the ether....more info
  • Great Book
    One other person wrote that this book is fascinating but depressing and that is why he/she chose to give it less than 5 stars.

    I beg to differ, one of the reasons why I gave it 5 stars is because it was depressing. It caused me a lot of anguish reading how much we have damaged this planet and how part of this damage will take 1000s of years to go away. I guess that would have been part of the message of this book, which it delivered on superbly.

    Another user also chose to give it less than 5 stars because it had too much focus on NYC and not other places. Again I beg to differ; the book did devote a whole chapter to Houston. Also I do not think this a huge shortcoming for the book, after all, it was written by an "American" for a largely American audience. Additionally, I think the author was limited by space. He could have gone on and on about other places, but he would have ended at something like 500+ pages. I think the book did deliver on it's message within the limitation of 350+ pages. ...more info
  • give this book to your teens
    Please buy this book for your teens. There's no chance that my generation will live long enough to repair the damage that mankind has done to this planet, perhaps our grandchildren will be brave enough and smart enough to put things right... if they understand what the problems are. If not then humans will go the way of the dinosaurs. Encourage your kids to live and play in the real world, not just cyberspace....more info
  • Not really my cup of tea
    First I would have liked to have given my review a 1.5 stars intead of 2. I have to say that while I understand everyone has their own tastes and opinions, this book was not my cup of tea. I think this book would be best suited to someone in the sci-fi/biological area. I found that he spent WAY too much time on the process of decay and transformation. And by that I mean, by wasting too many pages on what would happen for instance if the sewers when un-manned in NYC. Which I understand is the whole premise of the book. But had I known he was going to go into such mind-dumbing, time-wasting detail, I would've passed on the book alltogether. I felt the book would have been more to my liking if he spent more time on the overall aspect. But to each his own....more info
  • Required Reading for All of Us
    THE WORLD WITHOUT US should be required reading. We live within walking distance of a Borders Bookstore. For my birthday I preselected a stack of well-written and interesting-looking books, sorted through them in the cafe area, and settled on Weisman's perspective-changing volume. It's a hard read, one that I spread out over six weeks. The legacy of humanity isn't looking so good. But I am still optimistic that we can change the world for the better. ...more info
  • Wonderfully Written Book
    When I first picked up The World without Us by Alan Weisman, I was genuinely interested. The back cover promised an imaginative, compulsive, fascinating book. After reading, I understand what the other authors were raving about. The World without Us is beautifully written with exquisite detail. It answered my question of how the world would seem without any people, but left me with thousands of new, unanswered questions. Alan Weisman has thought this up, of an alternative world, which he shares with the rest of us. In his world, the environment is able to take its natural form. One of the reasons I like this book is because he really expresses how the environment would finally be natural again after all these years. Some people, when reading this, might think nature is doing wrong and abnormal things. Alan Weisman stresses the importance that nature will be natural rather than being the forced robot humans only allow it to be. As James Howard Kunster, author of The Long Emergency, quotes, "This is a very important book for a species playing games with its own destiny". He couldn't have said it any other way to stress the importance the book has on the world. One of the ways humans are playing games trying to fight destiny by designing things like iPods and televisions. Soon, those exact technologies that humans live for day-in-and-day-out, will kill us all. They will, in time, destroy the ozone layer above us. This leads to unprotected humans from the suns ultraviolet waves. By designing and using things that destroy our environment, we are taking the risk of starting Alan Weisman's world. Next time you're at Barnes and Nobles, wondering around and aimlessly looking around, pick up The World without Us, and you will not be disappointed. This book will inspire you and cause you to further your thoughts on the world around us. ...more info
  • excellent
    After reading this I would love it if someone banned the plastics used in shampoos. The author ended up taking us to some interesting places to seek out where humans have had to let go of portions of the earth and seeing what happened. I'm very happy I read this and I think you will like it too....more info
    Haven't read the book yet, but the way Amazon sent it was awful!
    I submitted an order for this book and an order for canned goods. They arrived together in one box. The book had just been tossed in with the cans and you can imagine what shape the book was in. I had assumed the book would have been boxed or wrapped separately, even if they put it into the larger box of canned items. Makes you wonder what kind of idiots work in their shipping department and what kind of supervision is in place at Amazon. In the future I will never order a book WITH any other item. ...more info
  • The Answer is... Overnight?
    They say the premise of this book is: If a virulent virus--or even the Rapture--depopulated Earth overnight, how long before all trace of humankind vanished?"

    Wouldn't the answer be: "Overnight?"...more info
  • Over-rated a little
    Weisman's effort is interesting above all for its depth and coverage. He really does manage to detail what would happen in different parts of the world if mankind suddenly disappeared. The 3 thoughts that occured to me while reading the book were:
    1) Who cares what happens if mankind disappears? After all, by definition, we are all gone.
    2) Much of what changes, though not everything, does so slowly and over periods of years and decades
    3) The book, despite its detail and insight, quickly becomes a little monotonous, slow and .... dare I say, predictable.
    It's not a bad read. But it probably does not deserve the credit that it seems to have generated. ...more info
  • What hath man wrought?
    The World Without Us
    This book is really more about what man has done while here than about what things will be like without him, although it addresses both. Weisman is a journalist, a good one, who has interviewed lots of specialists and traveled to lots of spots around the world to ascertain man's affect on several niche environments and to speculate about what would become of these if man were gone. The chapters focus on particular forests, reefs, farmlands, chemical plants, and other habitats or artifacts shaped my humans, and then hypothetically remove humans from the future equation. In the end he makes a plea for human population reduction (not to zero, though -- he is not that extreme)....more info