Eisley by Cronon

Loren Eiseley: Collected Essays on Evolution, Nature, and the Cosmos
William Cronon, editor

The Library of America

Loren Eiseley (1907-1977) has been described as “a paleontologist with the spirit of a poet.” His works have drawn comparisons to the great naturalist-writer Henry David Thoreau and have inspired other great scientist-authors such as Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould and Neil deGrasse Tyson.  

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“. . . this wonderful collection would make a proud addition to any home, school or public library.”

Eiseley’s keen observational skills, married with his innate sense of wonder of the natural world and its processes, led him to pen essays of great emotional depth, filled with an underlying longing for fuller insight into the universe’s mysteries.

This hard-cover two volume set contains the contents of Eiseley’s six published books as well as uncollected prose pieces. Beginning in 1957, his first essay collection, The Immense Journey, demonstrates his literary skills as he plunges into prehistoric ecosystems looking for “living fossils.” In The Firmament of Time (1960) Eiseley considers how cultural forces have shaped and held back scientific theories and explorations as well as how man’s imagination in turn has allowed science to grow and thrive. The Unexpected Universe (1969) looks at voyages of discovery from Odysseus to Captain Cook to Darwin to Eiseley’s own journeys through the local garbage dump to observe a universe “queerer than we can suppose.”

Volume Two gives us The Invisible Pyramid (1970), written during the time of the Apollo moon missions, a strong plea for mankind not to use its technological skills to destroy itself and our fragile planet.  The Night Country (1971) takes us back to Eiseley’s earliest childhood memories of the natural world and observations of humanity, which hint at his own mortality. His posthumous collection of essays, The Star Thrower (1978), reflect upon the legacy of Thoreau, Eiseley’s strongest literary influence.

Sure to please the science-philosopher and anthropology-cultural historian alike, this wonderful collection would make a proud addition to any home, school or public library.

Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews