People in modern societies often have a harsh view of nature, believing that competition reigns supreme and that the flourishing of one individual or group must necessarily come at the expense of others. In Sweet in Tooth and Claw, Kristin Ohlson argues (gently!) that nature is instead shaped and knitted together by mutually beneficial relationships, many of which humans unwittingly disrupt as we build our homes, expand our cities, divert water, and grow food.
Thousands of years of poor farming and ranching practices—and, especially, modern industrial agriculture—have led to the loss of up to 80 percent of carbon from the world’s soils. That carbon is now floating in the atmosphere, and even if we stopped using fossil fuels today, it would continue warming the planet.
"The author has a clear storytelling style, which comes in handy when drawing this head-turning portrait of lowly dirt." –Kirkus Reviews
In Stalking the Divine, a Cleveland woman attends Christmas Mass at an old city church seeking holiday cheer and comfort in the trappings of a faith she abandoned more than 30 years ago. Instead, she finds a tiny threadbare congregation and a nearly forgotten group of aging, cloistered, contemplative nuns with a mission to pray day and night for the sorrows of the world.
Soon after the fall of the Taliban, in 2001, Deborah Rodriguez went to Afghanistan as part of a group offering humanitarian aid to this war-torn nation. Surrounded by men and women whose skills—as doctors, nurses, and therapists—seemed eminently more practical than her own, Rodriguez, a hairdresser and mother of two from Michigan, despaired of being of any real use.
The 2011 edition of the popular annual series that Kirkus Reviews hailed as “superb brain candy,” Best American Science Writing 2011 continues the tradition of gathering the most crucial, thought-provoking and engaging science writing of the year together into one extraordinary volume.
In his introduction to The Best American Travel Writing 2008, editor Anthony Bourdain writes that the pieces that “spoke the loudest and most powerfully to me were usually evocative of the darker side, those moments fearful, sublime, and absurd; the small epiphanies familiar to the full-time traveler, interspersed by a sense of dislocation—and the strange, unholy need to record the experience.”