i don’t know which to envy more: this guy’s fitness level, his life, or his ability to write a stunningly beautiful sentence.
i came across this book while researching the probable effects of climate change, and it’s a good read if you want to educate yourself on that subject. i learned more about desertification, for example, than in any other book i’ve read so far.
but the book totally lacks the doom & gloom quotient of other books, and contains a lot more besides.
Childs roams around the world in this book visiting extreme environments. in extreme ways. he doesn’t just do a quick scientist interview and serve up the facts, he puts on a 70-pound backpack and walks out into it. the sensory detail in this book is astounding–sight, of course, but also touch sound taste feel smell and some lovely philosophizing on what’s around him. if writing can ever make you feel you’ve been there, his writing does.
we learn a lot of the earth’s history as well–geology, hydrology, what a Hadley Cell is, how environments migrate around. yet all the scholarship is folded into such beautiful descriptive language, it never feels like a slog.
sometimes the book’s just plain terrifying: i’m going to have nightmares about his river trip in Tibet, and i’ve never done any white-water rafting.
but i will also have dreams of the sound of a salt pillar, what blue looks like inside a glacier, what the endless churn of volcanism says to we fragile creatures riding the skin of a burning ball in space.
amazing book. just amazing.