Horizon

Barry Lopez. Knopf, $30 (592p) ISBN 978-0-394-58582-6
A globe-trotting nature writer meditates on the fraught interactions between people and ecosystems in this sprawling environmentalist travelogue. Essayist Lopez (Arctic Dreams) recounts episodes from decades of his travels, most of them tied to scientific investigations: camping on the Oregon coast while considering the exploits of British explorer James Cook; examining archaeological sites in the high Arctic while reflecting on the harshness of life there; hunting for hominin fossils in Kenya while weighing human evolution; scuba-diving under an Antarctic ice shelf while observing the rich marine biota. His free-associative essays blend vivid reportage on landscapes, wildlife, and the knotty relationships among the scientists he accompanies with larger musings on natural history, environmental and climate crises, and the sins of Western imperialism in erasing indigenous cultures. It’s often hard to tell where Lopez is going with his frequent digressions: one two-page section skitters from global cancer rates past a one-eyed goshawk he once saw in Namibia to an astrophysics experiment at the South Pole to detect dark matter, with no particular conclusion. Still, his prose is so evocative—during a tempest at sea, “veils of storm-ripped water ballooned in the air around us” amid “the high-pitched mewling of albatrosses, teetering impossibly forty feet away from us on the wind”—and his curiosity so infectious that readers will be captivated. Photos. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/10/2018
Release date: 03/19/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 592 pages - 978-0-307-35599-7
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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