Book Review: The Wizard And The Prophet by Charles Mann

The Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's WorldThe Wizard and the Prophet: Two Remarkable Scientists and Their Dueling Visions to Shape Tomorrow's World by Charles C. Mann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you find the tornado of information about climate change, species extinction, carbon capture, and ways to save the planet more than a bit dizzying, it sometimes helps to get ground in history. The Wizard and The Prophet takes us back a century to where many of these discussions began.

Charles C. Mann tells the story through the history of two individuals whose names are far from familiar today, but who were arguably the most influential progenitors of current public dialog. (Hence the subtitle: Two remarkable scientists and their dueling visions to shape tomorrow's world.) While navigating the individual stories of William Vogt (the prophet) and Neil Borlaug (the wizard), Mann navigates an almost unimaginable amount of history and data to produce the very clear picture of the choices ahead.

Mann's writing is concise and his sense of balance between the two competing arguments is excellent. If you are a nonfiction reader with an interest in history, science, landscape ecology, or public policy, this book delivers all. Mann avoids tired doom-and-gloom scenarios, instead pointing to the possibilities offered by both view of the future. I listened to the Audible version, and have since downloaded a copy for reference. Highly recommended.

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