Rebecca Neal, Froglife’s Conservation Youth Worker reviews Jules Howard’s “Death on Earth”
Title: Death on Earth: Adventures in Evolution and Mortality
Published by: Bloomsbury
Illustrated by Samantha Goodlet
Here is another random and interesting book from Froglife’s recently crowned patron. Instead of sex this time, (see his previous book “Sex on Earth”) we have death as the fringe wildlife topic.
This book explores the science of death, and in it Jules meets with professionals studying and working in a wide range of industries. Jules uses his beautifully-crafted writing skills to bring out the passion that the people he meets have for their chosen field. There are sections on aging, parasites, donkey mourning, extinction, decomposition, salmon sex (he just can’t leave it alone!) and scavengers. I kept finding words last heard during my degree years such as free radicals, telomers and apoptosis, and finding I almost remembered what they meant!
I was particularly affected by the chapters on toads on roads, and bird-cherry ermines, neither of which ended well for the animals concerned. I hope his words inspire more people to care about the less cute animals that share our planet.
I enjoyed this book and found the author to be honest, self-deprecating, and extremely funny. The personal accounts in this book add to the story and made you feel part of his journey. My only criticism is about the structure; I am someone who likes to see exactly how things have been put together and I found it a bit difficult to identify the organisation in this book.
If for no other reason, buy this book to find out more about Ming the clam. Fascinating stuff!