• Second Nature

  • Scenes from a World Remade
  • By: Nathaniel Rich
  • Narrated by: John Pirhalla
  • Length: 9 hrs and 1 min
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the author of Losing Earth, a beautifully told exploration of our post-natural world that points the way to a new mode of ecological writing.

We live at a time in which scientists race to reanimate extinct beasts, our most essential ecosystems require monumental engineering projects to survive, chicken breasts grow in test tubes, and multinational corporations conspire to poison the blood of every living creature. No rock, leaf, or cubic foot of air on Earth has escaped humanity's clumsy signature. The old distinctions - between natural and artificial, dystopia and utopia, science fiction and science fact - have blurred, losing all meaning. We inhabit an uncanny landscape of our own creation.

In Second Nature, ordinary people make desperate efforts to preserve their humanity in a world that seems increasingly alien. Their stories - obsessive, intimate, and deeply reported - point the way to a new kind of environmental literature, in which dramatic narrative helps us to understand our place in a reality that resembles nothing human beings have known.

From Odds Against Tomorrow to Losing Earth to the film Dark Waters (adapted from the first chapter of this book), Nathaniel Rich’s stories have come to define the way we think of contemporary ecological narrative. In Second Nature, he asks what it means to live in an era of terrible responsibility. The question is no longer, How do we return to the world that we’ve lost? It is, What world do we want to create in its place?

A Macmillan Audio production from MCD

©2021 Nathaniel Rich (P)2021 Macmillan Audio

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Non-Fiction That Reads Like Sci Fi, FTW!

In this work, Rich covers and conveys the idea that we, the human race, must actively work to create a new kind of equilibrium in nature…given that we totally screwed the baseline, and there is no ‘normal’ to return to. Instead, we have to work together to create a new normal. He posits his case in ten solid topics that draw you in by acting, at first, as whodunits. As he moves through his sections, he gets more direct in facing the really thorny ethical issues, the ones with squick factor. And right beside him, you begin to question what we as humans have the ability, the right, and the duty to do and change. But you are also reminded that we have exactly that: abilities, rights, and perhaps most importantly, duties.
With clarity, compassion, and dry wit, Rich explains that we’re never going to put things back ‘the way they were’. But we might just make something uniquely and amazingly good, if we can get our priorities straight in time.
Written in an accessible, dryly humorous and witty voice, this book is a cynically delightful read, with occasional flashes of real and earnest hope. The author isn’t worried about whether you think he’s smart; he wants to make sure you’re listening. And trust me, you will be.

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Fascinating, Terrifying, Mesmerizing Non-Fiction

This collection of environmental, ecological, and ethics-challenging stories was an amazing listen. I enjoyed the movie Dark Waters but found myself sucked into the story much differently in the book. John Pirhalla’s narration was outstanding and really brought each piece a clear voice. Many of these pieces bordered on crime stories or mysteries and Pirhalla’s delivery was perfectly paced for them. Rich’s piece on the Lower Ninth in New Orleans is near and dear to my heart. He tells the story from so many diverse points of view. That’s New Orleans.

1 person found this helpful