Woolly: The True Story of the Quest To Revive One of History's Most Iconic Extinct Creatures

Atria. Jul. 2017. 304p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781501135552. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781501135576. NAT HIST
What's the point of bringing an extinct animal back to life? Mezrich (The 37th Parallel) tells the story of geneticist George Church and others working to create, not clone, wiped-out species, including mammoths. Such endeavors are not for our amusement—the author readily acknowledges and dismisses the parallels to Jurassic Park. Rather, they are intended to help in today's world. Mammoths, for instance, could balance the ecosystem by trampling the permafrost in places such as Siberia's Pleistocene Park, thus lowering the permafrost's deadly carbon emissions. The ethically minded Church is well known for his open and collaborative spirit in mainstream media, and the idea of "science fiction becoming science" is intriguing. However, despite the intellectual matter at hand, the narrative is simplistic and often gets bogged down in details that make the story seem unfocused.
VERDICT Readers unfamiliar with Church's work and looking for a lighter touch of science might be able to power through the superfluous bits. Still, its commercial appeal, furthered by a movie already in the works, will attract popular science readers. [See Prepub Alert, 2/6/17.]
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