Air: The Restless Shaper of the Worldby William Bryant Logan
The author of Dirt and Oak brings to life this quickest, most sustaining, most communicative element of the earth.Air sustains the living. Every creature breathes to live, exchanging and changing the atmosphere. Water and dust spin and rise, make clouds and fall again, fertilizing the dirt. Twenty thousand fungal spores and half a million/p>/em>/em>
The author of Dirt and Oak brings to life this quickest, most sustaining, most communicative element of the earth.Air sustains the living. Every creature breathes to live, exchanging and changing the atmosphere. Water and dust spin and rise, make clouds and fall again, fertilizing the dirt. Twenty thousand fungal spores and half a million bacteria travel in a square foot of summer air. The chemical sense of aphids, the ultraviolet sight of swifts, a newborn’s awareness of its mother’s breast—all take place in the medium of air.
Ignorance of the air is costly. The artist Eva Hesse died of inhaling her fiberglass medium. Thousands were sickened after 9/11 by supposedly “safe” air. The African Sahel suffers drought in part because we fill the air with industrial dusts. With the passionate narrative style and wide-ranging erudition that have made William Bryant Logan’s work a touchstone for nature lovers and environmentalists, Air is—like the contents of a bag of seaborne dust that Darwin collected aboard the Beagle—a treasure trove of discovery.
- Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
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Meet the Author
William Bryant Logan is a Quill&Trowel Award-winning writer, a member of the faculty at the New York Botanical Garden, a sought-after lecturer and teacher, and a practicing arborist. He is the author of Oak and Dirt, the latter of which was made into an award-winning documentary. He lives in New York City and the Hudson Valley.
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This is a lovely, easy, dreamy read. It's far more a meditation on things having to do with air than a science book. The chapters form a hodge-podge that eventually becomes a picture, but it's part memoir, part poem, and part science. This use of pictures is strange. There are a few pictures, but that are largely not helpful to the author to make his point. And then when he really needs a picture, there isn't one, and his language gets tangled trying to make up for it. The most obvious example is that his chapter on the perception and portrayal of the air in the history of art. He describes paintings but doesn't reprint any of them, and the chapter really withers without them. But there are multiple others points that could have used a picture if he really wanted to make his point clear. But in the end, being perfectly clear may not have been his goal. Just getting us to reflect on the importance and busy-ness of air, the indelible essence that surrounds us every day, is probably the aim of a book like this. And in that, it is successful.