The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History

The-Sixth-ExtinctionElizabeth Kolbert

Bloomsbury Publishing, £20.00

Author Elizabeth Kolbert is a staff writer at the New Yorker and has written previously on climate change – a subject that has some mention in this latest book, with the human-influenced effects the main party to this latest extinction process.

Kolbert has travelled to all the various places where key finds have been unearthed, or to museums with artefacts that tell all sorts of tales. She has pieced together rather chatty chapters that help to explain the decline and fall of dozens of species from the Sumatran rhino to the Panamanian golden frog.

Each chapter is sub-headed after a particular species that has either died out or is in trouble, which is a neat touch. It is written in a reporter's style, giving great detail about how scientists evolve certain theories, even how they get their knees dirty in the field or ruin their lab coat. It is a book that can be dipped into or read from cover to cover.

There is no index, but there are lots of endnotes and a large 'selected bibliography'. This review copy was an 'uncorrected proof' issued prior to publication in February 2014, so future editions may vary slightly.

John Feltwell CBiol FSB