Thursday, October 17, 2013

Green book review: The Once and Future World By J.B. MacKinnon

We're back with our weekly green book review and today we're happy to do so with a thought-provoking book of J.B. McKinnon, the author of the best-selling book "The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating", who explores this time at the planet and our relationship with nature, offering a new perspective on the environmental crisis we're having and connecting the dots between the past and the future in what he believes is the best way to enable us to actually have a future on this planet. 

Our (audio) book for today is:

The Once and Future World By J.B. MacKinnon  (publisher:  Random House Canada) 

What this book is about?

In The Once and Future World, journalist J.B. MacKinnon, author of the best-selling The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating, steps back in time to look for the wilderness we've forgotten, and comes back with an eye-opening account of nature as it was, as it is—and as it could be.

Here is a globe exuberant with life, where lions roam North America, explorers cross continents on elephant trails, and twenty times more whales swim in the sea. The environmental crisis we face today, MacKinnon discovers, has been underway for hundreds of years. Ours is now a '10 percent world'—a planet with just one-tenth of its former abundance. But this history is not only a lament. It is also an opportunity to reimagine nature. It wasn't only human greed that led us to where we are today; we have also suffered a 'great forgetting.'

To reverse our damaging course, we need to remember, reconnect, and rewild: to remember nature as it was, reconnect to it as something meaningful in our lives, and begin to remake a wilder world. We choose the nature that we live with—a choice that also decides the kind of people we are.

About the author:

J.B. MacKinnon is the author or coauthor of four books of nonfiction. His latest, The Once and Future World, will be released in September 2013. Previous works are The 100-Mile Diet (with Alisa Smith), a bestseller widely recognized as a catalyst of the local foods movement; I Live Here (with Mia Kirshner and artists Michael Simons and Paul Shoebridge), a ‘paper documentary’ about displaced people that made top 10 lists from theBloomsbury Literary Review to Comic Book Resources; and Dead Man in Paradise, the story of a priest assassinated in the Dominican Republic, which won Canada’s highest prize for literary nonfiction.
MacKinnon also works in the field of interactive documentaries. He was the writer for Bear 71, which explores the intersection of the wired and wild worlds through the true story of a mother grizzly bear. Bear 71premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and was named 2012 Site of the Year at the international Favourite Website Awards. He was also text editor for Welcome to Pine Point, which won two Webby Awards, and is working with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on an interactive ebook about the Canadian wilderness.
As a journalist, MacKinnon has won more than a dozen national and international awards in categories as varied as essays, science writing, and travelogue. He is a past editor of Adbusters, the ‘culture jamming’ magazine that launched the Occupy movement, and a past senior contributing editor of Explore, Canada’s national outdoors magazine. His stories have ranged from the civil war in Southern Sudan to anarchists in urban North America to the overlooked world of old age among wild animals.
MacKinnon is a rock climber, mountain biker, snowboarder, and—yes—a birdwatcher. He lives with his partner Alisa Smith in Vancouver, Canada.
Our review:
I had a lot of fun with the book, The Once and Future World, by J.B. MacKinnon. The first major section was my favorite though. It goes through the past and the extinction of animals, birds, fish, and the vegetation. It discussed the possible whys and the human fault in it. I found it very interesting and frankly, I devoured it. Then I spent additional time looking up images and history of these extinctions. Very well done in my estimation, as it got me thinking.

The other two sections bring you to speed with the current world. It goes into detail on “re-wilding” of the earth, not just with animals but with vegetation and habitats as well. This is a new concept for many, but it has actually been around for a while, and one that I was aware of. I like the idea of re-wilding. I would love to see it implemented to some degree.

 The author shares many vignettes of time and events with the reader. Some are a little dry and time consuming, while others are very entertaining and interesting. The author has a good pace throughout, and I enjoyed the book on the whole. Good information, good history, and lessons we should pay attention too.

The book is available on


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