Over the last half a billion years, there have been five mass extinctions of life on earth. Scientists around the world are currently monitoring the sixth, predicted to be the most devastating extinction event since the asteroid impact that wiped out the disaurs. Elizabeth Kolbert combines brilliant field reporting, the history of ideas and the work of geologists, botanists and marine biologists to tell the gripping stories of a dozen species - including the Panamanian golden frog and the Sumatran rhi - some already gone, others at the point of vanishing. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind's most lasting legacy and Elizabeth Kolbert's book urgently compels us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human.
Elizabeth Kolbert was a New York Times reporter for fourteen years until she became a staff writer at the New Yorker in 1999. She is the author of Field Notes from a Catastrophe: A Frontline Report on Climate Change. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband and children. @ElizKolbert