The year 2009 brought a deluge of eco-literature that covered everything from green horsekeeping to urban farming, so we sifted through the masses and pulled out these books that either explore new topics or exorcise old environmental demons — all sure to entertain and educate even the most erudite green bookworm.
The Dangerous World of Butterflies by Peter Laufer (the Lyons Press, $24.95)
Weary after a long stint of reporting on gloom and doom, author Peter Laufer jokingly tells an audience one night his next book will be about butterflies and flowers. Laufer's nose for news soon leads him on a harrowing journey of discovery into the inner workings of the butterfly industry and the underground world of collectors. Along the way, he meets idiosyncratic characters with a common obsession — the butterfly — whose stories will give readers a whole new perspective on the sometimes rare but always beautiful species.
The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America by Douglas Brinkley (HarperCollins Publishers, $34.99)
This look at Theodore Roosevelt's lifelong aspiration to conserve America's wild places will give you new appreciation for the nation's parks. The author entertains with stories of the president's successes, which ultimately led to setting aside more than 230 million acres of wilderness. Also, The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America by Timothy Egan chronicles the fire that cemented for us Roosevelt's vision of conservation.
Climate Cover-Up: The Crusade to Deny Global Warming by James Hoggan, with Richard Littlemore (Douglas & McIntyre, $15)
Though global warming is real, almost half of the country still believes it's not a serious concern. So who's to blame? Public relations professionals, publicist James Hoggan says in calling out fellow colleagues who have purposefully sowed reasonable doubt about climate change into the public's mind. This account of the industry's ingenious tactics will no doubt leave you frustrated and angry, but hopefully also better prepared the next time PR people try to fool you.
Power Trip: From Oil Wells to Solar Cells — Our Ride to the Renewable Future by Amanda Little (HarperCollins Publishers, $25.99)
Amanda Little's ambitious and engaging first book grabs readers from page one with lively profiles of just about everyone touched by oil — from NASCAR fans and their gas-guzzling cars to the plastic surgeon who uses synthetic (i.e. oil-derived) body parts to remake clients into their dreams come true. Along the way, Little delves into the short-sighted policies that got us into this oil crisis in the first place and tracks down the people trying to get us out of it.