Wildlife & Biodiversity

Book Digest: Dispatches from 40 forgotten civilisations, Wuhan under lockdown and more

From stories of wildlife in unforeseen form to rise of environmental illnesses, DTE tracks new, contemporary books on environment and development from leading authors 

By DTE Staff
Published: Saturday 18 July 2020

The Next Great Migration: The Beauty and Terror of Life on the Move | Sonia Shah | Bloomsbury India |July 28, 2020

This book — a wandering narrative about why people wander — is likely to prove equally prophetic in the coming months and years, since it asks two questions that are already shaping our geopolitics: What causes human beings to migrate? And is such mass movement beneficial to more settled communities and nations?

10 Indian Champions: Who are fighting to save the planet | Bijal Vachharajani; Radha Rangarajan| Duckbill | May 5, 2020

This book tells the stories of 10 Indian conservationists who are striving to solve the most pressing problems on the planet — from climate change to habitat degradation, and from food insecurity to species loss, often facing seemingly insurmountable odds.

State of India’s Environment 2020: In Figures (E-book) | Centre For Science and Environment (CSE) | June 4, 2020

This annual e-book scavenges tons of data on India's environment and development. Then, using cutting tools processes them into sharp infographics. Each and every dataset here is a stand-alone verdict on a specific subject / development.

The Sensitives: The Rise of Environmental Illness and the Search for Americas Last Pure Place | Oliver Broudy| Simon & Schuster | July 14, 2020

The rise of environmental illnesses is fast catching public imagination. Brain fog, muscle aches and memory loss are some of the symptoms that might be present in a person suffering from an environmental illness. They originate from exposure to any chemical commonly used in modern society: Pest sprays, fragrances, cleaners and inks.

Yet, this debilitating condition is still being contested by the medical fraternity, as the author, Oliver Broudy, unravels in this expose. Broudy traces the history of chemical production into his narrative, beginning with the accidental discovery of synthetic dyes.

Wuhan Diary: Dispatches from a Quarantined City | Fang Fang |HarperVia | May 15, 2020

This book captures the challenges of daily life and the changing moods and emotions of being quarantined without reliable information.This book remains significant as a document of the trivial, tragic and absurd during Wuhan’s 76 days of lockdown.

Such a document is especially important now, when so much of how the coronavirus spread — and what governments across the world did or did not do to contain it — is already being contested by the United States and China.

Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World | Philip Matyszak | Thames & Hudson | August 18, 2020

Civilisations in the ancient world rose and collapsed — transforming and evolving in the process — and eventually leading the way for the world we live in. Some of them — such as the Romans, the Greeks and the Hebrews — have been well-documented.

Their narratives have occupied history textbooks, but some have been forgotten, as if they never existed. Forgotten Peoples of the Ancient World is about 40 forgotten ancient civilisations — from Hyksos to the Hephthalites — that maps humanity and displacement from 3000 BCE-550 CE, and helps understand who we are.

Each of the 40 ancient peoples gives a wealthy insight into the diversity of culture and their contributions to the modern world. The author explores how these people fought and survived alongside the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans, but most importantly, why they were forgotten.

Every Creature has a Story | Janaki Lenin | Harper Collins | July 27, 2020

Why does a nightingale sing? How does a giraffe’s long neck threaten its life? Did Moby Dick, the giant white whale, attack its tormentor’s ship, the Pequod? In a collection of essays, Janaki Lenin takes us through the marvel of life that are distinct and unique. Evolution, one of the most solid theories by Charles Darwin in science, is at the heart of it all.

Lenin’s work is replete with examples that reaffirm how natural selection is the operative machinery behind bewildering diversity. Every Creature has a Story is a surprising, witty and a highly fulfilling account of the aspects of lives that connect us with the nature and awakens a desire to know the world better in its endless, unforeseen form.

The Complete Bee Handbook: History, Recipes, Beekeeping Basics, and More | Dewey M Caron | Rockridge Press| July 2020

Human fascination with bees goes back to the Stone Age. Their marvels are aplenty and the world simply loves it. But that is only the tip of the iceberg. Bees are also in trouble: They are dying out due to rapidly changing human practises. Without these little pollinators, the ecosystem will collapse.

The book traces the present, past and future of bees — marking their evolution and decline in the face of a continuously changing world. The Complete Bee Handbook: History, Recipes, Beekeeping Basics, and More feeds the fascination of beekeepers alike—from ways to manage backyards to recipes for bee-centric food. Dewey M Caron charts the cultural history of beekeeping, the applications of bee products and tips on how one can support the local bee population.

From buzz-worthy recipes to bee-friendly gardening, the book is a friendly reminder about why we need these fluffy creatures, today and tomorrow.


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