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The remarkable story of how one of the most biologically diverse habitats in the world was destroyed, restored, and continues to evolve—with stunning, full-color photographs by two of the world’s best wildlife photographers.
A Window on Eternity is a stunning book of splendid prose and gorgeous photography about one of the biologically richest places in Africa and perhaps in the world. Gorongosa National Park in Mozambique was nearly destroyed in a brutal civil war, then was reborn and is now evolv-ing back to its original state. Edward O. Wilson’s personal, luminous description of the wonders of Gorongosa is beautifully complemented by Piotr Naskrecki’s extraordinary photographs of the park’s exquisite natural beauty. A bonus DVD of Academy Award–winning director Jessica Yu’s documentary, The Guide, is also included with the book.
Wilson takes readers to the summit of Mount Gorongosa, sacred to the local people and the park’s vital watershed. From the forests of the mountain he brings us to the deep gorges on the edge of the Rift Valley, previously unexplored by biologists, to search for new species and assess their ancient origins. He describes amazing animal encounters from huge colonies of agricultural termites to specialized raider ants that feed on them to giant spiders, a battle between an eagle and a black mamba, “conversations” with traumatized elephants that survived the slaughter of the park’s large animals, and more. He pleads for Gorongosa—and other wild places—to be allowed to exist and evolve in its timeless way uninterrupted into the future.
As he examines the near destruction and rebirth of Gorongosa, Wilson analyzes the balance of nature, which, he observes, teeters on a razor’s edge. Loss of even a single species can have serious ramifications throughout an ecosystem, and yet we are carelessly destroying complex biodiverse ecosystems with unknown consequences. The wildlands in which these ecosystems flourish gave birth to humanity, and it is this natural world, still evolving, that may outlast us and become our legacy, our window on eternity.
Wilson (Letters to a Young Scientist) presents a lyrical ode to biodiversity within the framework of a memoir of his work in Mozambique's Gorongosa National Park, helping to rebuild it from the loss of nearly all of its megafauna as it was neglected, repurposed as a battleground, and destroyed by poachers during the 16-year civil war. Wilson speaks with passion throughout, whether decoding evidence of our ancestors in Africa, expressing admiration of his professional peers, detailing the joy of everyday people cataloguing bugs in a "bioblitz," diving into the details of eternal ant wars, or simply describing the preserve's beauty with just the right amount of sentimentality. Nasrecki's lush landscapes, elephant and primate portraits, and bright, strangely charismatic insect close-ups enliven every spread, making this volume's visual content as remarkable as the stories. With the success of the Gorongosa project as his example, Wilson makes a persuasive plea for reserving large areas of the Earth as sanctuaries for not only the big predators, but for the tiny species, too numerous to even have been documented, that live in micro-niches in our wildest areas. Color photos.