The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples

The Eternal Frontier An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples In The Eternal Frontier world renowned scientist and historian Tim Flannery tells the unforgettable story of the geological and biological evolution of the North American continent from the time of

In The Eternal Frontier, world renowned scientist and historian Tim Flannery tells the unforgettable story of the geological and biological evolution of the North American continent, from the time of the asteroid strike that ended the age of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, to the present day Flannery describes the development of North America s deciduous forests and otherIn The Eternal Frontier, world renowned scientist and historian Tim Flannery tells the unforgettable story of the geological and biological evolution of the North American continent, from the time of the asteroid strike that ended the age of dinosaurs 65 million years ago, to the present day Flannery describes the development of North America s deciduous forests and other flora, and tracks the immigration and emigration of various animals to and from Europe, Asia, and South America, showing how plant and animal species have either adapted or become extinct The story takes in the massive changes wrought by the ice ages and the coming of the Indians, and continues right up to the present, covering the deforestation of the Northeast, the decimation of the buffalo, and other facets of the enormous impact of frontier settlement and the development of the industrial might of the United States Natural history on a monumental scale, The Eternal Frontier contains an enormous wealth of fascinating scientific details, and Flannery s accessible and dynamic writing makes the book a delight to read This is science writing at its very best a riveting page turner that is simultaneously an accessible and scholarly trove of incredible information that is already being hailed by critics as a classic Tim Flannery s account will fascinate Americans and non Americans alike Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs, and Steel No o

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The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples

  1. Tim Flannery is one of Australia s leading thinkers and writers.An internationally acclaimed scientist, explorer and conservationist, he has published than 130 peer reviewed scientific papers and many books His books include the landmark works The Future Eaters and The Weather Makers, which has been translated into than 20 languages and in 2006 won the NSW Premiers Literary Prizes for Best Critical Writing and Book of the Year.He received a Centenary of Federation Medal for his services to Australian science and in 2002 delivered the Australia Day address In 2005 he was named Australian Humanist of the Year, and in 2007 honoured as Australian of the Year.He spent a year teaching at Harvard, and is a founding member of the Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists, a director of the Australian Wildlife Conservancy, and the National Geographic Society s representative in Australasia He serves on the board of WWF International London and Gland and on the sustainability advisory councils of Siemens Munich and Tata Power Mumbai.In 2007 he co founded and was appointed Chair of the Copenhagen Climate Council, a coalition of community, business, and political leaders who came together to confront climate change.Tim Flannery is currently Professor of Science at Maquarie University, Sydney.

361 Reply to “The Eternal Frontier: An Ecological History of North America and Its Peoples”

  1. I am conflicted about this book the first 2 3, when Flannery discusses the ecological history of North America up until 1492, gets 5 stars in my book, while all the politically charged clap trap in the final third would get 2 stars and even there I am probably being generous.Flannery introduced a couple of interesting notions that I d never really thought about North America s inverted wedge exaggerates global temperature shifts, impacting the ecological history of this otherwise fertile contine [...]

  2. It was tough reading the first half of the book, which was primarily a treatise on the various dinosaurs and megafauna that roamed over the N.A land way back in time The the humans show up, about 14,000 years ago I really enjoyed reading about the ice age and imagined what it must have been like to have to deal with mastadons and mammoths, and gigantic lions Things sort of deteriorate, as the Northeast is deforested, and then our forefathers turned to decimating the buffalo and the passenger pid [...]

  3. This is an extended review of this quality book on the history of the North American continent.Strolling through the museum, you arrive at the newest exhibit, America 50 Million Years Ago Visitors finds themselves looking at unfamiliar creatures, things they would expect to find in a science fiction or horror movie The most feared carnivore is a flightless bird almost six feet tall with an ax like beak that can swallow most American mammals whole There are soft shelled turtles with snouts like a [...]

  4. Most of the book is a solid but dry description of the floral faunal history of N America from about 65 mill yrs ago to the present There is a lot of interesting information but the narration is poor too much of this material reads something like animal X migrated over pathway y to get to N America z million years ago The final 50 pages or so is a typical misplaced screed against the standard foe hint males of European ancestry who have destroyed every aspect of N America s ecology etc Words fro [...]

  5. The fossil record of our history in North America is so limited that it would be hard to draw conclusions on our mammalian past But a prevailing view of Tim Flannery s work is that instead of species evolving in North America some came over from Beringia or the Bering Strait over 10,000,000 years ago, supposedly like people did about 15,000 years ago My question would be Why would that be , or better would be that We are writing fiction for science to try and create a history based on in some ca [...]

  6. Enjoyed the book very much The ecology of N America after the asteroid struck it 65 million yrs ago What animals survived the blast and which animals emigrated on land bridges The story of what plants and animals have and had lived in North America over this long expanse of time is based upon solid science recent geology and 80 yrs of paeleantologists digging and digging in North America.

  7. I found this book fascinating It was easy to read and filled with information about how the flora and fauna and landscape of North America evolved I never knew there used to be tigers in America until I read this book

  8. Good lawd this was hard to get through Like than a year of slogging, picking up, putting down, reading two pages a night before falling asleep I think this content would ve worked well in a textbook form smaller chunks, pictures, figures but instead it s just text text text The first 1 2 or 2 3 or 4 5 was particularly difficult, with lots of mentions of lots of of alien sounding prehistoric animals that are nearly impossible to keep straight It s saving grace was the last few chapters Once you [...]

  9. I d read fragments of North America s story elsewhere and become intrigued I knew, for instance, that bison were not from here in deep time, but horses were, and now the situation had ironically been restored kind of to its original state I knew there used to be a rich mammalian fauna that was killed off and largely replaced by Eurasian species at the end of the Pleistocene But these were just hints of a much larger story, and I wanted to go deeper and see the complete picture.The Eternal Fronti [...]

  10. Although I liked the entire book quite a bit, I think the title is a bit misleading Flannery s story of pre human America, brilliantly described in the first half of the book, is much comprehensive than his story of humans in the Americas.Most of the reading I ve done about prehistory, recently, has focused on the rise of humans Flannery offers a detailed view of the story leading up to humans Beginning with the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, Flannery traces [...]

  11. I rate this book a 4.12 on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being best Another exceptional environmental history from Flannery A staggering tale of evolution, migration, invasion, and hybridization of life The scope of this narrative is mind boggling as it tells the story of the evolution of life in the North America from the dawn of time until the present A must read for naturalists.There is no splendid example of North America s capacity to act as a great amplifier than this the Earth cools by an ave [...]

  12. I ve been trying to write this review for a month now, and things keep going wrong Hopefully third time s the charm This is quite the book He really does cover the history of the entire North American continent, from the moment it starts to exist up to just a little into the future There are some points where it just became overwhelmingly technical Flannery makes long lists of all the historical species that existed in North America and often on other continents for comparison s sake When these [...]

  13. Not as good as his brilliant The Future Eaters about Australia, but still very good Flannery s basic thesis is that North America has been the frontier for one species after another ever since that Most unfortunate day for North America 65 million years ago when a massive meteorite struck in the Gulf of Mexico and wiped out almost all life in North America south of the Arctic Circle For millions of years thereafter, as one land bridge after another opened and closed, new species arrived and then [...]

  14. Flannery tackles a lot here the flora, the fauna, the geology, the peoples and covers a necessarily vast span of time Hard to believe the same relatively short book could contain dinosaurs and Henry Ford in a linear telling The first 200 pages bore a number of authorial interjections that made it clear this was to be no objective survey of the natural history, but of a compilation of the available research as of 2001 told from an opinionated, concerned, personal perspective It is a very politic [...]

  15. This is an incredibly intense book that looks at the ecology of North America since the meteor strike that killed the dinosaurs 65 million years ago to the present Pluses This book will make you think a different way about the past of the North American continent and its relationship to the rest of the world Flannery presents a huge amount of information and manages to keep the text from bogging down In some of the controversial instances he does mention other ideas and states his opinion Minus [...]

  16. Interesting book it many ways, but it s definitely a history of the area that will be called the United States, not a history of North America although it starts out as the latter and gives an impressively interesting account of the geological and biological origins of North America as a whole, the focus narrows to the continental US and stays there There are also areas where the author is clearly out of his comfort zone details on Native American history would have been but appropriate and wel [...]

  17. This book is informative about the formation and history of the ecology of North America It is also very sad when you realize how many times the continent and its inhabitants have been impacted by humans And we still don t get it We still keep destroying our own habitat Reading this intelligent book will convince you that we need to respect the history of the continent and plan for generations after us We have such short memories, and this book reminds us how important it is to recognize this.I [...]

  18. This is a great overview of North American ecology, especially because it is presented through a geologic time frame and I think it s important from time to time for anyone to think of species extinction and natural resource management using a much longer time frame Some of the details i.e the names of the various extinct species get to be a little much, but overall I think it s worth the time if you are interested in how North American species evolved, the characteristics geologic, climatic, et [...]

  19. I like Time Flannery s point of view The book puts our present society in context of ecological forces that have played out on the continent for millenia He covers a lot changing climate and continental arrangement, species distribution and evolution and makes sense of the patterns He talks about how the values of the U.S are founded on a frontier mentality, and how North America represented a frontier not only for Europeans but also for previous immigrations of humans and other species And that [...]

  20. A high level overview of the ecological history of North America beginning 65 million years ago It is technical it would be improved with a glossary, many illustrations, some tables, and maps I found his conjectures about the origins and movements of plants and animal fascinating When he finally gets around to human history, Flannery s opinions are direct like human hunting, not environmental changes eliminated North American megafauna , but the coverage is too spare and quick, both before and [...]

  21. If reading about numerous plant and animal families and genera that have come and gone for the past 65 million years doesn t sound enticing, then you may not enjoy this book.However, in his explanation of how North America has become what it now is, through its unique ecology and geological formation, Tim Flannery tells a fascinating story Concepts learned in college about the earth s shifting mantle, how it formed the ever changing continents and how that set up the scene for evolution of flora [...]

  22. The Eternal Frontier, published in 2001, recounts the extraordinary ecological history of North America Tim Flannery begins his story sixty five million years ago when a six mile wide meteor crashed into the Gulf of Mexico, ending the age of dinosaurs He proceeds to show how the continent eventually transformed into the landscape we know today Flannery is a world renowned paleontologist and a good writer He manages to make minute detail and big ideas interesting and understandable with good pros [...]

  23. I read to page 23 then returned to study the text and map on pages 10 11 which are technically illogical and seemingly framed for narrative value I exited this book, stage left, to avoid further fact checking.He says most of the existing continents were formed by fragmentation but North America was created differently, as a result of the forces of union but he also states that the two islands of proto North America had long separate histories The fact that they were islands proves they too were [...]

  24. awesome book absolutely fascinating read the whole way through what i liked the most was learning about the megafauna that were wiped out around the time that the Clovis peoples showed up he argues in favor of the idea that they wiped them out, stating that the majority viewpoint is that it was climate induced he builds a compelling argument that the clovis were responsible for their extinction, but of course it s his book, so who knows what the other side would say in response, i haven t done t [...]

  25. Exciting account of the ecological development of North America after the asteroid impact 65 mio years ago I found the second half of the book which describes the situation after the arrival of humans some 13,000 years ago the most interesting, but there is a lot of good stuff here Learned some fascinating things, too for example, there were lions in an ice free area in Alaska during the ice age, and today s American bison seems to have evolved quite rapidly and considerably to adapt to the pres [...]

  26. Outstanding account of the natural history of North America Flannery brings together the known facts of climate, flora and fauna of our continent in a way for us all to understand The explanation of the end of the dinosaurs left me wondering why there are those who still consider it to be a mystery.Thought provoking and well written It should be on the reading list of all who feel that climate change is something we have just discovered and that we can somehow control the natural evolution of ou [...]

  27. This was awesome One of the best natural history books ever It s an amazing blend of geological, biological, and social history It s concise and well paced It is an absolutely gripping story as Flannery relates the rise and fall of species and climates with such epic sweep that you feel like God watching it happen Just great Nothing like it Stephen Gould would ve been proud I gave this to my wife to read If you only read one natural history book in your lifetime this is the best summary you coul [...]

  28. I actually quite enjoyed the book The reason it does not have a higher rating is because of the length and the breadth of topic covered Although I found everything very interesting, and a lot of information was presented in a way that was easily digestible for the lay person, the range of topic covered was a kind of disparate Topics covered, which ranged from descriptions of Eocene flora and fauna to post Columbian European expansion, just doesn t quite belong in the same book for me

  29. I ve been currently reading this book for about nine months, a couple of pages a nighttalk about eternal It might be written for a serious student of paleontology, or it may be that I don t have a deep enough calendar and map and thus lose track of which migration is happening when, but I m not sure I m going to walk away from this one with an internalized knowledge of North American pre history That will be a deficit.UPDATE May 2008 I still haven t given up on this.

  30. Maybe this book is a bit dry but it is a great read and it really had my mind churning with ideas while I read it Some of the ideas presented in the book were and still are quite new to me What particularily caught my attention is the concept of mass extinctions and the possibility that we are currently witnessing a massive change in the earths flora and fauna on an archaeological scale I still pull knowledge gleaned from this book out in discussions with my friends.

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