Tuesday, December 3, 2013


In the interest of full disclosure, the author of Biotopia, Michael Charles Tobias, is a much valued friend and mentor.  For that reason, I wanted to like this book,  In fact, I did like it, a lot. I wrote the review pasted in below for Amazon.

One caveat: Michael Tobias is the smartest person I have ever known. He is an intellectual gymnast extraordinaire and his writing reflects that.  It requires the full engagement of the reader. For those willing to make that mental investment, the reward is very much worth the effort.  Take a moment to acquaint yourself with Biotopia and its author, Michael Tobias.

A Splendid Elixir

When I started reading Biotopia, by Michael Charles Tobias, I wasn't sure what to expect. The title implies something like a living world fully realized. In fact, Tobias is a wordsmith of the highest order. Much of this book reflects on the beauty and wonders the author has experienced in his travels.  Tobias is truly a citizen of the planet.  His knowledge of history; anthropology; plants and animals, taxonomically and otherwise; literature, music and the arts, is remarkable and on full display in Biotopia.   But, while this book is in part a celebration of the sublime in nature and the human culture, it is even more a pained lament; a lament over the human squandering of the planet's biological blessings,  and of  our mindless, historically rooted penchant for destruction. We are experts at soiling our own nest and at killing our own kind,  and even more so at willfully rolling over the other creatures with whom we share this Earth.  As an example, annually, we humans reduce about 50 billion living creatures to drumsticks and cuts of meat, with nary a thought.   Michael Tobias has experienced a lot in his life. He is clearly haunted and very weary of the suffering he has seen firsthand, much of it caused by our own hubris.  Yet, in the end, Tobias  makes the case that the awareness of both the beauty and the suffering demands compassion and a commitment to be a champion; to be a force for nature, pushing back against indifference and corrosive human inertia.  Tobias himself is a wonderful example of just that kind of unswerving courage. 

The work of a remarkable intellect, Biotopia evokes both awe and inspiration. Ultimately, it is a splendid elixir; balm for those who are dispirited by the troubled world we know.

Here is a link top the Amazon listing for the book... http://www.amazon.com/Biotopia-Michael-Charles-Tobias/dp/0927379228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386115511&sr=8-1&keywords=Biotopia


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