Book Review: The Fall of the Wild

fallofwildTitle: The Fall of the Wild
Author: Ben A. Minteer
Publication Date: December 8, 2018
Pages: 192
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Date Started: October 23, 2018
Date Finished: October 30, 2018
Format: Adobe Digital


*I would like to thank the publisher, author, and NetGalley for providing an ARC copy of this book in exchange for an honest review*

With the sixth mass extinction event on Earth underway, science surrounding the study of wild animals, their habitat, and their conservation has been focused on how we can save animals and preserve diversity. Many different methods have been proposed and some have been used, to varying success. However, the discussion rarely focuses on whether we should use these methods, and their ethical implications. Scientific studies themselves attempt to be as neutral as possible, but the applications of such research is where ethics particularly play a role. There are many ways to save a species, but to what limits should we interfere? The Fall of the Wild raises the important questions about some of the most controversial conservation techniques and provides the viewpoints from both sides. This was designed to be a shorter book in order to allow the reader to complete the book within two or three sittings.

Topics included for discussion in this book focus on what researchers can do, and whether they should or shouldn’t use such techniques in order to save a species from extinction. No definitive answers are provided, as that all depends on which principles you hold true from an ethical standpoint. The author does present his personal beliefs on the topics, but acknowledges every view point. The book begins with a discussion of scientific collecting of samples from species and populations of unknown size, or that were only rediscovered. Should we sample in order to understand the population better and risk taking too many out of the breeding pool, or should we forsake the knowledge we can gain in order to maintain the gene pool? The book then moves in to the question about rearing animals in captivity to reintroduce into the wild. Does this actually preserve the species, or are they now a remnant of what they were? What about zoos? Are they a cruel shadow of the wild, or a conversational tool? What about de-extinction? Will the possibility of being able to bring any animal back from extinction lesson our efforts to fix the root cause? And would that time and money be better spent on saving living species instead of saving ones long gone? There are so many questions!

This was an intriguing read that made me ponder many of the practices and thoughts that go into conservation biology and what ramifications they might have for different species and ecosystems as a whole. These are the questions that we should be talking about more, both between scientists and the public as these decisions affect us all. This book provides a great diving board into the conversations that we all need to be having, and would be perfect as a discussion starter in a biological ethics course, or for anyone who just generally cares about the environment.

Overall, 3.5/5 moose




  1. I think everyone should be more conscious of the choices they make in their daily lives and how they affect the world around them, including other living beings. I always try and minimise my own impact in the environment but of course it’s always great to learn more. I’m quite curious about the techniques that should and shouldn’t be employed in the presevation of species explored here.
    You always read such fascinating little books, Melissa! Awesome review ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree with you more. Every little thing individuals can do will definitely help, though as society we really need to get working on that, pronto.

      Thank you (as always) for your kind words, Sophie. I get bored easy and can’t read the same genre for too long, so I always try to spice things up a little. My problem is usually trying to narrow down the list of books hahaha


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