Those who have enjoyed [Kolbert's] previous works like Field Notes From a Catastrophe will not be disappointed by her powerful new book ... This is the world we’ve made. And in her timely, meticulously researched and well-written book, Kolbert combines scientific analysis and personal narratives to explain it to us. The result is a clear and comprehensive history of earth’s previous mass extinctions — and the species we’ve lost — and an engaging description of the extraordinarily complex nature of life. Most important, Kolbert delivers a compelling call to action ... vividly presents the science and history of the current crisis. [Kolbert's] extensive travels in researching this book, and her insightful treatment of both the history and the science all combine to make The Sixth Extinction an invaluable contribution to our understanding of present circumstances, just as the paradigm shift she calls for is sorely needed ... makes an irrefutable case that what we are doing to cause a sixth mass extinction is clearly wrong. And she makes it clear that doing what is right means accelerating our transition to a more sustainable world.
... both a highly intelligent expression of this genre and also supremely well executed and entertaining ... Kolbert’s perspective is both awe-inspiring and fearsome, but utterly engrossing, as you’d expect from a book whose premise is 'we’re all doomed' ... Addressing the imminent next catastrophe with a certain grim relish, Kolbert spells out the results of her investigations ... Kolbert’s indictment of humanity is remorseless, and compelling ... Readers will be unable to evade the conclusion that we do indeed find ourselves on the brink of a great catastrophe, one in which the agent involved is not an inanimate object or a geophysical force but a sentient creature: ourselves. Homo sapiens may have enjoyed brilliant success on Earth but we have done so at the expense of virtually every other species.
[Kolbert's] writing here is the very model of explanatory journalism, making highly complex theories and hypotheses accessible to even the most science-challenged of readers, while providing a wonderfully tactile sense of endangered (or already departed) species and their shrinking habitats. She writes as a popularizer — or interpreter — of material that has been excavated by an army of scientists over the years and, in many cases, mapped by earlier writers ... Ms. Kolbert is nimble at using dramatic scenes to make sense of larger ideas ... by the end of this book, she’s left us with a harrowing appreciation of the ways in which human beings have been altering the planet ... Ms. Kolbert shows in these pages that she can write with elegiac poetry about the vanishing creatures of this planet, but the real power of her book resides in the hard science and historical context she delivers here, documenting the mounting losses that human beings are leaving in their wake.