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Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Ever-Ending Earth

4.02 of 5 stars 4.02  ·  rating details  ·  298 ratings  ·  56 reviews
The earth has died many times, and it always comes back looking different. In an exhilarating, surprising exploration of our planet, Craig Childs takes readers on a firsthand journey through apocalypse, touching the truth behind the speculation. "Apocalyptic Planet" is a combination of science and adventure that reveals the ways in which our world is constantly moving towa ...more
Hardcover, 343 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Pantheon Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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Bandit
I've long been fascinated with apocalypse, although traditionally in fiction form. Nonfiction read on the topic seemed in order. This book won awards and it's easy to see why. The writing is quite excellent, impressively literary. So much so in fact that the book doesn't even have prerequisite photo section so many nonfictions tend to, the descriptions are vivid enough. Chapter by chapter the author sets off on what to a layperson seems like exceptionally masochistic trips in the world's most ex ...more
Linda Robinson
When I picked up this book, I had more than one list in my head of what to keep handy in the event of planetary catastrophe. I wrote letters and protested oil pipelines, nuclear containment wells miles deep in the earth, crabbed about congressmen who pay homage to robber barons, and vote to end life on earth as we know it routinely, like brushing their teeth or taking out the garbage. Well. Turns out earth can take care of herself, thank you very much. Not only earth, but the solar system and be ...more
Tina Cipolla
The fact that I went to see this author do a reading certainly adds to my experience of this book, but even if I were to ignore Child's excellent presentation, this book still gets 5 stars from me.

In Apocalyptic Planet: The story of the Everending Earth, Craig Childs looks at a series of planetary end scenarios. Each frightening and fascinating and most are events that have already happened on this planet at some point--asteroid strikes, super volcanos and the like. He describes the end scenari
...more
Jennifer
I think the thing that pushed this book to a four star rating for me was the really unique way in which the author juxtaposed his musings on the upheavals that could end our civilization with descriptions of his travels in environments that mimic these upheavals on a smaller scale--the monoculture of a large Iowa farm, the tectonic majesty of a Tibetan river gorge, the blank ice fields of Greenland. It gave his work an immediacy that others lack.
Lizzy Lessard
More of a memoir of the author trying to envision life in various apocalyptic events than a "what if" type of book. It reminded me of the show IT COULD HAPPEN TOMORROW, but lacked possible survival methods for each scenario. Personally, I was expecting more facts and less personal history.
Kathy
Am excited to go to a reading by Craig Childs at Changing Hands in Tempe on October 15th, 7pm.
Mark
I'm not sure what I expected from this book or this author. I'd never read anything by Childs before but had heard him on NPR in a background sort of way and recalled, vaguely, liking what I heard. I'm also planning a Big Trip by bicycle that includes parts of the desert southwest and his name came up in relation to those-who-write-about-the-desert and I thought I'd give him a go.

First, let me speak to the things I did NOT enjoy about his work.

Why are we treated to "sex on ice" not once but twic
...more
John
Back-pack porn? Perhaps. It certainly evoked the feeling of being on an outdoor adventure, as I vicariously lived it page by page, comfortably sitting on my commuter rail ass.
More, though, it's theme is perspective, and how difficult it is for us transient beings to fully appreciate geological Earth time (let alone MBTA time), and thus how we get our knickers in a twist over environmental change, however rapid it seems to us. Even he catches himself thinking of the now as a kind of "ending up" w
...more
Richard Reese
Craig Childs is a nature writer and globetrotting adventure hog. He’s been thinking a lot about apocalypse lately. It’s hard not to. The jungle drums are pounding out a growing stream of warnings — attention! — big trouble ahead.

The Christian currents in our culture encourage us to perceive time as being something like a drag strip. At one end is the starting line (creation), and at the other end is the finish line (judgment day). We’re speeding closer and closer to the end, which some perceive
...more
Kristi Thielen
Not the kind of thing I typically choose to read, but my husband enjoys this author and he was a charming speaker at a Book Convention here in the Black Hills several years ago. I particularly enjoyed the chapter "Civilizations Fall" and only wish Childs had written more about these cultures that were once so mighty and are now so utterly gone.

Cai
I loved this investigation into all the possible ways the world, as we know it, might end. Childs visits nine places on the planet that speak to some of the cataclysmic (or more gradual) events that might change the earth significantly enough to put an end to human life. He puts himself into extremities (heat, cold, desolation, swift water) that test his endurance—the Sonoran desert of Mexico, a flooding river with Class 5 rapids on the Tibetan Plateau, the still-polar but collapsing ice of Gree ...more
Christopher
I like ice cream and I like sushi but even so I still don't like them combined together.

You know, at some level I just have to say that while I do love nature writing and I do love natural history/science books I really do not like the combination of the two especially with a constant back and forth narrative going on.

And it seems to be a growing trend in alot of popular science these days. Still, it was worth reading all the way through because the specific case studies are fascinating, and so
...more
Kathleen Dixon
Everybody knows you can't judge a book by its cover, but this book's fabulous title and cover are what caught my eye. Then the blurb made me think it would be very interesting, and a quick browse had me delighting the use of language, so I borrowed it from the library. Now, the fact that it took me eleven months to read has nothing to do with how much I enjoyed this book - that's indicative that I liked it so much that I came back to it after having to return it unfinished.

We know now that there
...more
Steven
I was about two thirds of the way through this book before I realized I'd read this author before. I must've picked up this book based on a review that mentioned House of Rain, but I'd since forgotten. Childs has such a wonderfully descriptive way of writing. And I love how his poetic descriptions contrast with the rather robustly scientific bibliography he provides. This bibliography is divided into landscapes and processes (oceans, deserts, tectonics) that don't necessarily match up with the c ...more
CG Fewston
Apocalyptic Planet by Craig Childs is an ambitious work, spanning several continents and billions of years, and the author maintains an energetic tone that not only beckons the reader into the most mysterious places on Earth, but also warns to the cataclysms that may befall our precious world.

Part travel log and part science guidebook, Apocalyptic Planet is filled with wit, humor, and fascinating facts about the Earth as a living organism and a place filled with various landscapes of desolation
...more
Jason Roth
Although I admit to being biased because I’m a junkie when it comes to reading about geology, nature, and being outdoors; I believe Craig Childs is a Colorado and regional treasure. In this book, he travels to calculated transitional zones around the world and looks to the geological past to explain different outcomes for the future of our planet as it pertains to climate change. His writing style does not appear to me to incite the climate change debate by being overly biased, as he tends to st ...more
Christian
Craig Childs' is one of the best nature writers working today -- his prose is lean yet muscular, full of the right amount of detail, packed with really creative descriptive language and metaphors, and he's always writing from an outdoor adventure most humans would not chose to take. This book has him exploring the many different ways the Earth is constantly destroying and rebuilding herself, with an eye towards our current impending climate change apocalypse. He hikes across desolate salt flats ...more
Phritz
Childs writes in a poetic cadence, often crafting impressionistic passages about the landscape and his (or our) experience of it. But his accounts are so wide ranging and touch such amazing landscapes: Greenland, Patagonia, Nepal, Hawaii, Sonora, and much more. I am amazed about how much he packed into the book. Meanwhile, he manages to introduce us to interesting characters along the way, in the form of his friends and field partners.
Skye Griffith
This book, about a very dire circumstance--the effects of climate change--was beautifully written and surprisingly hopeful. Childs seems to take solace in the "ever-ending" state of our planet, as if finding evidence of the extreme climate changes of the past, such as an earth covered with ice, proves the potential for life to go on following natural or man-made disasters, although admittedly, it may not include the human race if we continue to foul the environment. Childs seeks out the extreme ...more
Andrew Venegas
Having now read this book three times in two years, I am vexed by the realization that it's imperially one of my favorite books. Some might think it distasteful to enjoy a book that contemplates the end of civilization, yet I am delighted in the discourse.

The author presents at once the humorous anecdotes of a Bill Bryson novel with the intrepid candor of Doris Kearns Goodwin (high praise, to be sure), detailing the ups and downs of deep time in distant, grand locales that precious few would ev
...more
David
I'll give it a weak three stars.

Apocalyptic Planet has chapters on topics such as desertification, sea level rise, glacial retreat, volcanism, and so on. The author talks in part about the science of these phenomena, but he mostly describes his treks through areas that demonstrate the chapter topics. So, this book would be appealing to those interested in reading about, for example, backpacking trips through the Atacama Desert or an Iowa corn field. On the other hand, it would likely be less int
...more
Peter
Brilliant world tour of the local apocalypses that could blossom into our whole planet in the right circumstances. Expertly paced and balancing trip report with hard science, its heavy, gripping and more than a little humbling. It mostly builds from one chapter to the next, minus one chapter I found lacking in cataclysmic perspective, but the structure, execution and style are top-notch. Read it. Learn whether or not to maintain hope, ground as we are in the gears of a planetary ecosystem. Ill l ...more
Fran Fisher
Craig Childs is a natural history/geology/adventure writer with great literary skills. He is also a Colorado resident, though, in this book, he didn't spend much time at home. I enjoy the adventure and the strange places, his take on climate change and outdooring challenges. Much adventure, always going over the edge somewhere. I preferred his book, House of Rain, however.
Virginia
Craig Childs clear outlines the possible future apocalypses of our planet. This book reads like an adventure travel book. You are lead through the most desolate part of the earth with the understanding that this landscape could become the new future.
Derek Svensson
I loved this book. I would recommend it to almost anyone. It is very interesting and I have not wanted to put it down. The author is the man who went through all of the hardships throughout the book. He goes to different places with his friends and colleagues. He chooses to do this hardcore hiking and exploring in his free time. He is also a morning NPR host. I have been amazed at his life and I think everyone should read this book.
Gene Teichroeb
Childs is a very good author as I'm not sure anyone else could keep my attention for so long when discussing the geological history of the earth. The subject matter he tackles in this book makes you think about our planet in new ways and Childs opened my eyes to new perspectives. I won't be able to help thinking about the history of our world and where we (humans, animals, geological formations, and our planet) might be headed as I travel anywhere. He does a great job of helping people really se ...more
Alex
A compelling mix of high quality science writing and travelogue. Of all the chapters, only one falls a little flat towards the end, but the rest of it makes for a fascinating tour of what extreme climate change or cataclysm looks like around the world. Even a walk through Iowa cornfields proves educational when Childs takes you through what had to be sacrificed to make it. Also love the idea of tiny sanctuaries that exist out there waiting to restore life when it looks hopelessly lost. Except fo ...more
Chuck English
A little biased toward human influence on global conditions. Very interesting though.
Patrick
Childs is better writing about his times in the wilderness than journalism.
Wynn
Right on!
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CRAIG CHILDS is a commentator for NPR's Morning Edition, and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men's Journal, Outside, The Sun, and Orion. He has won numerous awards including the 2011 Ellen Meloy Desert Writers Award, 2008 Rowell Award for the Art of Adventure, the 2007 Sigurd Olson Nature Writing Award, and the 2003 Spirit of the West Award for his body of work.
More about Craig Childs...
The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild The Secret Knowledge of Water House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest Finders Keepers: A Tale of Archaeological Plunder and Obsession Soul of Nowhere

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“They may not become extinct immediately, but being pushed out of decaying or destroyed habitats eventually takes its toll. The concept is known as extinction debt, the delay between the stress on species and the final dwindling of the last survivors until the organisms disappear and are never seen again.” 2 likes
“This is the yin and yang of the earth, an energetic feedback. What happens below relates directly to what is happening on the surface and in the atmosphere and vice versa. Tectonics does not end at the ground beneath your feet. It is a dynamic system from the earth's interior all the way into the sky and back.” 0 likes
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