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In The Edge of Extinction, Jules Pretty explores life and change in a dozen environments and cultures across the world, taking us on a series of remarkable journeys through deserts, coasts, mountains, steppes, snowscapes, marshes, and farms to show that there are many different ways to live in cooperation with nature. From these accounts of people living close to the land and close to the edge emerge a larger story about sustainability and the future of the planet. Pretty addresses not only current threats to natural and cultural diversity but also the unsustainability of modern lifestyles typical of industrialized countries. In a very real sense, Pretty discovers, what we manage to preserve now may well save us later. Jules Pretty's travels take him among the Maori people along the coasts of the Pacific, into the mountains of China, and across petroglyph-rich deserts of Australia. He treks with nomads over the continent-wide steppes of Tuva in southern Siberia, walks and boats in the wildlife-rich inland swamps of southern Africa, and experiences the Arctic with ice fishermen in Finland. He explores the coasts and inland marshes of eastern England and Northern Ireland and accompanies Innu people across the taiga's snowy forests and the lakes of the Labrador interior. Pretty concludes his global journey immersed in the discrete cultures and landscapes embedded within the American landscape: the small farms of the Amish, the swamps of the Cajuns in the deep South, and the deserts of California. The diverse people Pretty meets in The Edge of Extinction display deep pride in their relationships with the land and are only willing to join with the modern world on their own terms. By the examples they set, they offer valuable lessons for anyone seeking to find harmony in a world cracking under the pressures of apparently insatiable consumption patterns of the affluent.
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Table of Contents

1. Seacoast: Ngai Tahu, Aotearoa (New Zealand) 2. Mountain: Huangshan, China 3. Desert Coast: Murujuga (Burrup), Australia 4. Steppe: Tuva, Russia 5. Snow: Karelia, Finland 6. Swamp: Okavango, Botswana 7. Marsh-Farm: East Anglia, England 8. Coast: Antrim Glens, Northern Ireland 9. Snow: Nitassinan, Labrador, Canada 10. Farm-City: Amish Country, Ohio, United States 11. Swamp: Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana, United States 12. Desert: Timbisha (Death Valley), California, United States Coda: Dreaming of the Day After Notes Bibliography Acknowledgments

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About the Author

Jules Pretty is Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex. He is the author of many books, including The Edge of Extinction and This Luminous Coast, both from Cornell, and The Earth Only Endures. He is coeditor most recently of Green Exercise.

Reviews

"[Pretty] describes an astonishing diversity of human experience in which our species has learned to live well with, rather than against, nature and often each other."-Andrew Simms, The Guardian (February 4, 2015) Pretty (environment and society, Univ. of Essex; The Earth Only Endures) provides the reader with a verbal feast for the senses while detailing his experiences in a variety of landscapes, from the steppes of Russia to the farmland of Ohio's Amish country. The author reveals the ways in which many people around the globe continue to live in harmony with the land despite the unavoidable encroachment of modern technology and values. In what could be considered either a strength of the book or a weakness, Pretty stays away from divisive political statements regarding environmentalism, though he does advocate for governments to allow the indigenous peoples of their land to live with minimal intervention. This work is no political rallying cry; rather it is a celebration of the beauty and culture of "extreme" landscapes and slower lifestyles the world over. VERDICT Readers who delight in detailed travel writing will relish Pretty's masterly descriptions of deserts, swamps, and mountains, as well as the daily activities of those who live in these environments.-Jennifer Stout, Library Journal (November 2014) "Jules Pretty traveled the world to find places where people live and work in concert with the land. In this book, he shares his story of these travels and the people he met along the way to emphasize the utter importance of caring for what we have before we have it no more... He shares these stories to honor them and to educate us."-REH,Wildlife Activist(Summer 2015) "The key to a long term sustainable future is an appeal to a loving care of beauty and the vibrant communities it gives rise to, rather than either the instilling of fear of catastrophe or utilitarian calculation. It is, finally, this recurring testimony that makes the book not only a thoughtful exploration of the lives of others, genuinely other, tracking different paths to the mainstream, but a tracing of the patterns of what it might mean to love a place and be at home in it. The homes themselves are all strikingly different but bound by being places that first and foremost are genuinely listened to - its possibilities and the stories it can give rise to."-Nicholas Colloff, Network Review (Winter 2015) "The Edge of Extinction is a wise, wide-ranging and open-hearted journey."-Jay Griffiths, author of Savage Grace: A Journey in Wildness "There is deep sadness on almost every page of this remarkable book. But also great beauty. And an exhortation to look and look again at the living world. Jules Pretty offers powerful testimony to our enduring capacity to see and feel the intricate life of wild places and the people who inhabit them. A necessary and important work in a rapidly diminishing natural world. This is a brave and hopeful book."-Douglas E. Christie, author of The Blue Sapphire of the Mind: Notes for a Contemplative Ecology "Jules Pretty is both a serious thinker and a fine writer. There's nothing like this book, and it will be widely read and well regarded."-Bill McKibben "Jules Pretty is a great environmental scientist who is also a great environmental humanist. This book is a treasure. It chronicles the tragic loss of cultures and their ecologies, but it also chronicles a world of steadfast commitments and reasoned hopes. The writing is full of delightful turns of phrase, finely wrought rhythms, and moments of passion and surprise. It is also full of the fascinating people Pretty has met in a lifetime of travel, painted with sensitivity and insight. Pretty speaks throughout to the local and the transcendent, the nonmodern and the modern, the past and the future. The Edge of Extinction is a sublime elegy to the wonders we are losing. Read it. Think on it. Then act on it."-Michael M. Bell, Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Community and Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, author of An Invitation to Environmental Sociology

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