By Tim Flannery
Tim Flannery is the director of the South Australian Museum and a Professor at University of Adelaide and the author of seven books. His Eternal Frontier (EF) begins with the KT Meteor’s blow to the earth (in the vicinity of Mexico) some 65 million years ago (65MYA), which is now widely believed to have exterminated the dinosaurs, and many other enormous species in whose presence primitive mankind could not likely have emerged and survived. Therefore, unlike Bill Bryson’s Short History of Almost Everything (which deals with the 10-20 billion year span of the universe) or Conway Morris’s Crucible of Creation or Gould’s brilliant Wonderful Life (both of which deal with life on our planet from the Cambrian explosion 570MYA to the present), Flannery covers a much shorter time frame. Moreover, he leaps from 65MYA to the last few million years in his first 25 pages and devotes the rest of his book to North America and mankind’s movements over the past 14,000 years or so. As such, the scope of the book is confined to continents, oceans and animals much more familiar to us. His writing style is much more plebian and breezy than that of Bryson, Morris and Gould. Indeed, the prose would be comfortable for sixth graders. Indeed, I felt a bit like one, reading a text book from long ago. All that it lacked was colorful illustrations on glossy pages. This Geology-Paleontology-Oceanography-Archeology-Et Al 101 would make a good read for one’s pre-high school children.