Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth, by Craig Childs
Craig Childs’s winning book, Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Everending Earth, puts an entirely new spin on our usual preoccupations with climate change and catastrophe in general. Traveling to some of the harshest and most far-flung corners of the planet—from desert to ice sheet to massive wasteland of genetically modified corn—Childs takes the long view, exploring the ongoing life and death of the earth on a scale most of us rarely think about.
Childs’s perspective is humbling, his position one of awe and respect for the powers of nature that humans have only partially come to understand. And his writing is rich in scientific thinking but also lifted to a level of literary grace, which, coupled with his sheer exuberance, ensures that the reader is never left behind. Concerning humans’ place amid the small and large catastrophes explored in Apocalyptic Planet, Childs is neither alarmist nor complacent, as he considers the human effect on the planet in a context many times greater than our day-to-day lives.
An engaging mix of adventure, science, and thoughtful storytelling, Apocalyptic Planet is a work deeply worthy of the Orion Book Award. Staggering forces of creation and destruction have rocked and transformed this planet for millennia. “This is what the earth is capable of,” writes Childs in his introduction. “It is something that should be known.” Indeed, it should—and Childs has proven himself the ideal messenger for the job.
About the author
Craig Childs is a writer who focuses on natural sciences, archaeology, and remarkable journeys into the wilderness; he has published more than a dozen critically acclaimed books on nature, science, and adventure. He is a commentator for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Outside, High Country News, and elsewhere. His subjects range from pre-Columbian archaeology to U.S. border issues to the last free-flowing rivers of Tibet and Patagonia.
The expeditions Childs undertakes often last weeks or months, informing his writing with a hard-earned sense of landscape and culture. The New York Times says “Childs’s feats of asceticism are nothing if not awe inspiring: he’s a modern-day desert father.” He lives off the grid with his wife and two young sons at the foot of the West Elk Mountains in Colorado.