RaveThe Observer (UK)Never hectoring, always highly readable, Regenesis is an intelligent, deeply researched passion piece that ranges from microbiology to social justice by way of apple trees and GM wheat. There is a temptation when writing about enormous topics to oversimplify, to distinguish your own approach by promoting a single definitive solution. Monbiot resists this. He acknowledges, even embraces, the complexity of the crisis we face ... That is the greatest strength of this book: Monbiot’s beautifully simple explanation of why none of this is simple ... His glorious opening chapter, which should be compulsory reading for anyone who makes or, indeed, eats food, is about the ecosystem that supports all terrestrial life: soil. With delight, he details the complexity of an evolved relationship between bacteria, fungi, plants, tiny organisms (including members of an entire phylum I’d never heard of called symphylids), and the chemistry and geology of the planet. It’s this complexity we work with when we build our bodies from the sun’s energy using photosynthetic plants as our go-between. And today’s agricultural practices are messing it up ... I would have liked some of my own favourites – algae and insects – included, but the point Monbiot makes so ably and so necessarily is that system change is both essential and possible through a complexity of solutions ... The stakes could not be higher. If a book can change hearts and minds about one of the most critical issues of our time, this rational, humane polemic is it.
RaveThe Guardian (UK)... neuroscientists are investigating the mysterious quality and trying to answer the hard question of how consciousness arises in the first place. If this all sounds a bit hard going, it’s actually not at all in the masterly hands of Seth, who deftly weaves the philosophical, biological and personal with a lucid clarity and coherence that is thrilling to read ... This much-anticipated book lays out his radical theory of our invented reality with accessible and compelling writing ... This is still an emerging science and Seth is generous to his fellow navigators, including those with competing theories, as he gently and persuasively walks us through the optical illusions, magic tricks and fascinating experiments that build his case ... We perceive ourselves to control ourselves, is Seth’s often counterintuitive but nevertheless convincing argument in this meticulously researched book. However, we are just as importantly the perception of others ... an exhilarating book: a vast-ranging, phenomenal achievement that will undoubtedly become a seminal text.
RaveNature... an arresting montage of just how hard it is to return balance to our exquisitely interconnected biosphere, and the extraordinary efforts people go to in the attempt ... this is Kolbert at her most compelling — producing visceral, engrossing journalism with clear explanations of both science and social context ... An element of the ridiculous is ever-present in the dance between human hubris and desperation. Kolbert orchestrates this comic strand with aplomb, never sacrificing empathy or the humanity of her characters. It is only a shame that the focus is entirely on problems and solutions in rich countries, given the global nature of the Anthropocene and the inequity of its burdens ... There’s a grim fatalism to all this. We are so far down this path of global change that to turn back now is unthinkable, even impossible — like the old lady of the rhyme, who inevitably swallows the horse. Kolbert lays out this paradox perfectly. But she does so in the detached manner of an observer: always the reporter, documenting events but never asserting her own opinion. The book ends abruptly when the coronavirus ruins her plans for further research trips, leaving as much unresolved within its pages as outside them. It is, then, a superb and honest reflection of our extraordinary time.