National Book Award finalist
Overseas Press Club award for environmental reporting
An intimate work of narrative nonfiction that asks: What is nature?
Now as never before, exotic animals and plants are crossing the globe, borne on the swelling tide of human traffic to places where nature never intended them to be. Bird-eating snakes hitchhike to Hawaii in the landing gear of airliners; pernicious European zebra mussels, riding in ships' ballast water, disrupt aquatic ecosystems across the United States; feral camels and poisonous foreign toads plague Australia; giant Indonesian pythons lurk beneath homes in suburban Miami. As alien species jump from place to place and increasingly crowd native and endangered species our of existence, biologists speak fearfully of "the homogenization of the world." Never mind bulldozers and pesticides: the fastest-growing threat to biological diversity may be nature itself.
Out of Eden: An Odyssey of Ecological Invasion is a deeply reported personal journey through this strange and shifting landscape. I tour the front lines of ecological invasion: in Hawaii, Tasmania, Guam, San Francisco; in lush rainforests, through underground lava tubes, aboard an Alaska-bound oil tanker, inside a spacecraft-assembly facility at NASA. I follow world-class scientists — invasion biologists, "mix-o-ecologists" — and a global cast of alien species, to ask: What exactly is nature? What is natural?