cover image Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture

Threshold: The Crisis of Western Culture

Thom Hartmann, . . Viking, $27.95 (268pp) ISBN 978-0-670-02091-1

What begins as skillful (and scary) prognostications about climate change's impact devolve into an unfocused mishmash in this mélange of history, philosophy, science and anthropology. Air America Radio Network host Hartmann (The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight ) marshals solid research to demonstrate how overpopulation, pernicious trade policies, rampant consumerism and other excesses are devastating the Earth. The utopia he envisions, which owes much to Scandinavian social democracies, is unimpeachable, what with its emphasis on gender equality, ecological consciousness and a renewed spirit of democracy. Unfortunately, the author cannot direct his ire, and the book buckles under breathless plaints that leap from the history of lacrosse to neurology to our relationships with animals in the span of a few pages. The result is a frustrating, hard-to-follow conclusion that obscures the valuable arguments that distinguish the book's striking opening. (July)