The Flight of the Iguana is a fantastic collection of 29 essays, written by David Quammen for Outside magazine between 1984 and 1987. Some of them are, at this point, dated by modern research, but Quammen is a fantastic natural science writer, whose skill at presenting complex ecological concepts to layreaders is perhaps paralleled by only John McPhee, Rachel Carson, or Robert Sapolsky.
I’m judging Weisman’s work a little more harshly than most because I feel it’s too slim and simple on presenting its ideas. Everything from this book can be found in the readings for a single introductory college course on environmental ethics or resource management — all it adds, I feel, is the context suggested by the book’s gimmicky title.
That’s not to say simple can’t be excellent, but with how the World Without Us presents its info, it feels like Weisman did the bare minimum amount of research — as if his only source was a single introductory class or textbook filtered through a writer’s whimsy. E.g., he shies away from referencing original research, and instead cites news headlines inaccurately covering original research as his sources. E.g., he references a number of outdated terms or ideas, such as continental drift or, positively, “The cure for pollution is dilution.” (Ouch….)