From an acclaimed environmental writer, a groundbreaking and provocative new vision for our relationships with – and responsibilities toward – the planet's wild animals.
Protecting wild animals and preserving the environment are two ideals so seemingly compatible as to be almost inseparable. But in fact, between animal welfare and conservation science there exists a space of underexamined and unresolved tension: wildness itself. When is it right to capture or feed wild animals for the good of their species? How do we balance the rights of introduced species with those already established within an ecosystem? Can hunting be ecological? Are any animals truly wild on a planet that humans have so thoroughly changed? No clear guidelines yet exist to help us resolve such questions.
Transporting readers into the field with scientists tackling these profound challenges, Emma Marris tells the affecting and inspiring stories of animals around the globe – from Peruvian monkeys to Australian bilbies, rare Hawai'ian birds to majestic Oregon wolves. And she offers a companionable tour of the philosophical ideas that may steer our search for sustainability and justice in the non-human world. Revealing just how intertwined animal life and human life really are, Wild Souls will change the way we think about nature – and our place within it.
Emma Marris is an award-winning journalist whose writing on science and the environment has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, National Geographic, Wired, Outside, High Country News, and many other publications, including Best American Science and Nature Writing. Her previous book, Rambunctious Garden, was the subject of her TED Talk, which has over 1.4 million views. She was also featured on the TED Radio Hour and the series Adam Ruins Everything. She is based in Klamath Falls, Oregon.
– Winner of the 2022 Rachel Carson Environment Book Award
– Winner of the 2022 Science in Society Journalism Award (Books)
– Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize
"Sober, elegant, and philosophical [...] Marris questions many of the assumptions we make about nature, naturalness, wilderness, species, genetic purity [...] Ultimately, it seems, the best approach to salvaging nature will be a piecemeal affair, a mix of doing and not doing, the political and personal."
– New York Review of Books
"Fascinating [...] hands-on philosophy, put to test in the real world."
– Outside Magazine
"Everybody who cares about animals should read this fascinating book."
– Temple Grandin, author of Animals in Translation
"Where do wild animals fit in a human-dominated world? The answer, for better or worse, will be determined by humans. Emma Marris's exploration of this question is at once thoughtful, thought-provoking, and thoroughly absorbing."
– Elizabeth Kolbert, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sixth Extinction
"An absorbing and nuanced blend of philosophy and science [...] Wild Souls questions the very concepts of wildness and nature."
– Science News
"This thoughtful, considerate book is perfect for anyone who wants to understand animals' places in the world."
"From defining wildness and animal autonomy to joining conservationists in grappling with the relative morality of the actions they take, Marris explores some of the ways our lives are intertwined with those of our non-human neighbors, and offers practical suggestions for how we can approach our lives and work with increased humility and create more space for wildlife to thrive."
– Rewilding Magazine
"This is a deeply felt and deeply thought book, brimming with compassion and rue, that throws out revelations like a stream of arrows, each one aimed at the very heart of the matter."
– Andrew Solomon, National Book Award-winning author of The Noonday Demon
"Thoughtful, insightful, and wise, Wild Souls is a landmark work . It should be a guidepost for our thoughts and actions for decades to come."
– Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes
"This is the best thinking-and-feeling person's guide to sharing the planet that I know."
– Florence Williams, author of The Nature Fix
"[Wild Souls] thinks hard about what words like 'wild' and 'nature' mean. As Marris journeys from Northwest wolves to rats in New Zealand, she finds answers that are as fascinating as they are unexpected."
– Charles C. Mann, author of The Wizard and the Prophet
"Through stories that marry adventure and philosophy, Wild Souls proposes a new framework for resolving the moral dilemmas that arise as we try to be good stewards of a thoroughly humanized world."
– Beth Shapiro, author of How to Clone a Mammoth
"With an epic sweep worthy of the subject, Emma Marris links cutting-edge science with deep compassion to provide us tools for approaching the decades ahead."
– Neil Shubin, author of Your Inner Fish
"[A] masterpiece of environmental philosophy [...] This is a book meant to be argued with, in the best possible sense."
– Ben Goldfarb, author of Eager
"I dare any nature-lover to read this book and not come away profoundly changed."
– Douglas W. Smith, Senior Wildlife Biologist, Yellowstone National Park