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The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants

by Charles S. Elton. 1958 Methuen Press. University of Chicago Press Edition 2000. 181 p. $15.

Rachael Carson’s 1962 classic Silent Spring launched the modern environmental movement by alerting the world to the perils of chemical pollution. Elton’s book, written several years earlier, was largely ignored except among a few in the scientific community. With invasive alien species causing serial extinctions, decimating entire forests, transforming landscapes and challenging human health, environmental groups and resource agencies are finally realizing that Elton’s was an equally important clarion call.

True, there is now an avalanche of literature being generated on this topic but Elton’s book still stands as among the finest. Nice pictures, great maps, perky prose, low price and a new forward by Dan Simberloff all combine to make this reprint a worthy addition to any library. Place it next to your copy of Silent Spring to balance what should have been a two-toned appeal to make peace with the natural world.

"We must make no mistake: we are seeing one of the great historical convulsions of the world’s fauna and flora...we are living in a period of the world’s history when the mingling of thousands of kinds of organisms from different parts of the world is setting up terrific dislocations in nature...This book is about biological explosions."

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