The Immense Journey
Anthropologist and naturalist Loren Eiseley blends scientific knowledge and imaginative vision in this story of man.
Why read it?
3 authors picked The Immense Journey as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
This book is a revelation! The author (1907-1977) was a scientist (a naturalist, anthropologist, and paleontologist), and, boy, could he write. The title refers to the arc of time on this planet. There are chapters that describe and ponder fossils, evolution, so-called missing links, “the great deeps,” and so forth in the most captivating, poetic language. But the chapter to read is “How Flowers Changed the World.” I consider it the most important and insightful essay ever written on the dramatic arrival of angiosperms (flowering plants)—because he takes into account all context, and because he marvels. As we should.
Okay, I said the previous book presented a huge picture, but this one is even bigger. Loren Eiseley presents the evolution of mankind in a series of lyrical essays that just carried me away in imagery and imagination. The book is old, written in 1959, but, really, not that much about human evolution has changed since then (talk about timeless!) I liked this book so much because it connected me to the natural world and my own humanity, in a beautifully-written way.
In this eloquent exploration, Loren Eiseley poetically describes his experiences conducting anthropological field research, and the reflections that work inspired. The Immense Journey is that rare blend of scientific curiosity, wonder, and wisdom that humbly explores the deep questions about human existence, inspiring rather than preaching. Although conveying with precision field observations and research endeavors, this book is, in reality, a literary masterpiece.
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