Jun 16, 2009

new non fiction

By looking backward at the course of great extinctions, a paleontologist sees what the future holds.
More than 200 million years ago, a cataclysmic event known as the Permian extinction destroyed more than 90 percent of all species and nearly 97 percent of all living things. Its origins have long been a puzzle for paleontologists. During the 1990s and the early part of this century, a great battle was fought between those who thought that death had come from above and those who thought something more complicated was at work.
Paleontologist Peter. D. Ward, fresh from helping prove that an asteroid had killed the dinosaurs, turned to the Permian problem, and he has come to a stunning conclusion. In his investigations of the fates of several groups of mollusks during that extinction and others, he discovered that the near-total devastation at the end of the Permian period was caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide leading to climate change. But it's not the heat (nor the humidity) that's directly responsible for the extinctions, and the story of the discovery of what is responsible makes for a fascinating, globe-spanning adventure.
In Under a Green Sky, Ward explains how the Permian extinction as well as four others happened, and describes the freakish oceans—belching poisonous gas—and sky—slightly green and always hazy—that would have attended them. Those ancient upheavals demonstrate that the threat of climate change cannot be ignored, lest the world's life today—ourselves included—face the same dire fate that has overwhelmed our planet several times before.

Discusses the effect of changing oxygen levels in Earth's atmosphere on evolution and mass extinctions, and presents the theory that saurischian dinosaurs were able to weather two mass extinctions because of a new, more efficient respiratory system, which was in turn inherited by their descendants the birds.

Historian Simon Schama offers an essential historical perspective on the 2008 presidential election and its importance for reclaiming America's original ideal. Cultural hostilities more irreconcilable than any since the Civil War have divided America in two. In November 2008, the American people elected a new president, feeling more anxious about the future of the nation than at any time since Watergate. Our omnipotent military, the cornucopia of material comforts available, the security of our borders, and the global economy can no longer be taken for granted. Schama takes a long look at the multiple crises besetting the United States and asks how these problems look in the mirror of time. In four crucial debates--on wars, religion, race and immigration, and the relationship between natural resources and prosperity--Schama looks back to find lost insights into the future.--From publisher description.

Former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints member Brent Jeffs reveals both the terror and the love he experienced growing up on his prophet's compound--and the harsh exile existence that so many boys face once they have been expelled by the sect.

Is life really so complicated? Ask happy and successful people this question and you’re likely to hear that, in its essence, life is really quite simple. In these pages, Newt Gingrich and his daughter Jackie Gingrich Cushman–with the help of prominent people they know and admire, such as Bill Clinton, Rush Limbaugh, Mary Matalin, and David Petraeus–show how, by following just five principles, you can live life to its fullest:• Dream Big Like Walt Disney, who shared the magic kingdom of his imagination with millions, or like Jackie’s sister, Kathy, who didn’t let a severe case of rheumatoid arthritis stop her from completing a walking marathon, see where your dreams can take you.• Work Hard As Jackie points out in her recollections of her dad’s early political career, working hard can be a surprising source of energy, and adopting an attitude of cheerful persistence will help you reach your goal.• Learn Every Day The key is to re- member that learning is a reciprocal process. You can’t be passive; you must be engaged. Come along on a visit to the acclaimed Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta to see how this principle works in action.• Enjoy Life And what’s the best way to do that? From the wisdom of the ancient philosophers to information from the latest scientific studies, the answer is the same: Be grateful for all your blessings and do something every day to show compassion and generosity to others.• Be True to Yourself It sounds easy, but it’s the hardest principle to live by. Discover what people from William Shakespeare to Henrik Ibsen to John P. Abizaid have had to say about this touchstone for an honest life.With these inspiring and memorable words of wisdom, Newt and Jackie have given us a book to treasure for a lifetime.

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