Never in the history of the Earth have sounds been so rich and varied. Never has this diversity been so threatened. Our species is both an apogee of sonic creativity and the great destroyer of the world's acoustic diversity.
Sound has shaped the history of the Earth and its inhabitants. The first sound waves of the universe are still visible today, their peaks and troughs marked in the night sky by galaxies and starless spaces between. And yet this shared sonic existence is in crisis, as human noise threatens to drown out all else.
From city streets to ocean depths, and Palaeolithic cave dwellings to modern concert halls, Sounds Wild and Broken is an illuminating exploration of the rich and varied sounds of our planet. It is at once a joyful celebration of the natural cacophony of existence, and a stark warning of what is at stake should this sonic diversity be lost.
David Haskell is the author of The Forest Unseen (2012), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and The Songs of Trees (2017), which won the John Burroughs Medal. His work integrates scientific, literary, and contemplative studies of the natural world. He is a professor of biology and environmental studies at the University of the South and a Guggenheim Fellow.
"Sounds Wild and Broken tunes into our sense of hearing with a globe-trotting journey through time. Exploring everything from rainforests that vibrate with insect sounds to swamps pulsing with frog calls, Haskell shines a light on evolution's creative powers – how species learn to adapt through calls, song and sound. He takes us to threatened forests, noise-filled oceans and raucous city streets to show how vital sonic diversity is to the survival of our planet."
– National Geographic Traveller
"A symphony, filled with the music of life [...] fascinating, heartbreaking, and beautifully written."
– Elizabeth Kolbert, author of The Sixth Extinction
"Sounds Wild and Broken affirms Haskell as a laureate for the earth, his finely tuned scientific observations made more potent by his deep love for the wild he hopes to save."
– New York Times
"Captivating [...] The science stories in Sounds Wild and Broken offer one delight after another."
– Scientific American
"Wonderful [...] a reminder that the narrow aural spectrum on which most of us operate, and the ways in which human life is led, blocks out the planet's great, orchestral richness."
–Mariella Frostrup, Times Radio
"Enlightening and sobering."
– Jini Reddy, Metro