Reviewed by Sam Chamelin
Paul Bogard is all of us.
Well, most of us. Bogard established himself as an important voice for environmental issues in his highly recognized The End of Night. Bogard’s first book took us on a journey to the stars, or the lack thereof, highlighting the loss of genuine darkness in our LED-saturated culture, and how that shapes us and our environments. Bogard shows himself fluent in a variety of languages – science, technology, anthropology, and even theology. In The Ground Beneath Us, Bogard continues honing and sharpening his multi-faceted voice, turning his attention to the soil with a similar literary recipe. The Ground Beneath Us is a well-paced, diverse exploration of the various grounds that humans trod, from the paved surfaces of Manhattan to the thawing tundra of Alaska, both in how we have shaped these grounds, and how the ground shapes us.
The distinguishing characteristic of this book is that Bogard does not write as an expert or an apologist. He is an everyman. He is an interviewer and a traveler. He is adept at asking questions, and he faithfully reports the answers. Bogard invites us to join him in the conversation with his questions, concerns, fears, and hopes as we consider a world where the soil is under siege. In this way, The Ground Beneath Us is written as a companion on the journey, rather than a Sherpa pointing us towards a destination.
Read more of Sam Chamelin’s review of The Ground Beneath Us at Englewood Books.