EXTINCTION & DE-EXTINCTION
WOOLLY: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creature – Ben Mezrich (2017) Along with Dr. George Church and his team of Harvard scientists, a world-famous conservationist and a genius Russian scientist plan to turn a tract of the Siberian tundra into Pleistocene Park, populating the permafrost with ancient herbivores as a hedge against an environmental ticking time bomb.
AMERICAN CHESTNUT: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree– Susan Freinkel (2007) The revivers of the American chestnut are four decades ahead of everyone else in bringing back an important missing species. For updates, get the quarterly Journal of The American Chestnut Foundation
HOW TO CLONE A MAMMOTH: The Science of De-extinction – Beth Shapiro (2015) A detailed description by a great story teller, a careful skeptic, and a highly productive scientist of every stage of what it will take to resurrect woolly mammoths (and other extinct mammals) and passenger pigeons (and other extinct birds).
NATURE’S GHOSTS: Confronting Extinction from the Age of Jefferson to the Age of Ecology– Mark V. Barrow, Jr. (2009) The idea of extinction didn’t exist in Jefferson’s time. There’s been one harsh revelation after another since then, chronicled in this wonderful history. The current generation of biologists will write the next chapter.
LAST OF THE CURLEWS– Fred Bodsworth, (2011). This book on the extinction of Eskimo curlews has quietly become one of the great classics of conservation writing. Read it aloud with someone you love at bedtime.
THE LAST TASMANIAN TIGER: The History and Extinction of the Thylacine – Robert Paddle, (2002).The thylacine was effectively a marsupial wolf, a crucial apex predator in Tasmania. The government declared unjust war on it and extinguished every one. Here is the full story.
MAMMOTHS: Giants of the Ice Age– Adrian Lister, Paul Bahn (2007) Dazzling and authoritative, this richly illustrated natural history of mammoths makes them seem as familiar and profoundly admirable as their living relatives, the elephants.
A FEATHERED RIVER ACROSS THE SKY: The Passenger Pigeon’s Flight to Extinction– Joel Greenberg, (2014) Up to date, comprehensive, and compelling, Greenberg’s account of the teeming life and relentless mass murder of passenger pigeons illuminates one the most tragic of extinction stories.
How to Learn Biotech – Nathaniel Brooks Horwitz (2019). A compilation of the best in scientific literature, books essays, news, newsletters, government resources, podcasts, forums, analytics, and more.
REGENESIS: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves– George Church and Ed Regis (2012) One of the world’s leading genomic engineers spells out how rapidly his field is developing radical capabilities. (Church is involved in the passenger pigeon revival project.)
BIOLOGY IS TECHNOLOGY: The Promise, Peril, and New Business of Engineering Life– Robert H. Carlson. (2011) Rob Carlson is currently the best chronicler of the pace and range of progress in biotechnology.
THE MOLECULE HUNT: Archaeology and the Search for Ancient DNA– Martin Jones (2001) A little dated already, this account by an insider covers the early years of biomolecular archaeology. There needs to be a new book on current “ancient DNA” discoveries.
NEANDERTHAL MAN: In Search of Lost Genomes– Svante Pääbo (2014) Revive & Restore has no plans to revive Neanderthals, but this important book has far the best description of how hard it is to find and decode ancient DNA from fossils, and how revelatory the information can be. We now have more complete genomes for extinct Neanderthals and Denisovans than we do for living humans, and the story of human evolution has been revolutionized.
THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR: A Saga of Natural History and Conservation– Noel Snyder and Helen Snyder (2000) Down to 22 birds in 1981, the condor is back to over 400, with half of them now in the wild. This encyclopedic work shows how important good field science was. A shorter version is Introduction to the California Condor (2005) by the same authors.
ZOO CONSERVATION BIOLOGY– John Fa, Stephan Funk, Donnamarie O’Connell (2011) An excellent survey of the growing role of zoos in conservation biology, including captive breeding and return to the wild. Zoos will be crucial for de-extinction biology.
ONCE AND FUTURE GIANTS: What Ice Age Extinctions Tell Us About the Fate of Earth’s Largest Animals– Sharon Levy (2011) A fine introduction to mammoths and mastodons and what it might mean to have them back.
WILD ONES: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America– Jon Mooalem, (2013). The subtitle nails it: “A sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America.” Endangered animals often make people exceptionally noble.