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ebook / ISBN-13: 9781529362671

Price: £25

ON SALE: 31st August 2023

Genre: Earth Sciences, Geography, Environment, Planning

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Dust is a book with an extraordinary global story to tell, but – and – also with an ethical argument to advance. Robert Macfarlane

‘Superb’ Telegraph

‘Brilliant’ Sunday Times

Eye-opening . . . impressiveGuardian

‘Powerful’ Nature

‘Like a detective dusting for fingerprints, Jay Owens masterfully reveals the hidden traces of modernity by following some of its smallest fragments.’ James Vincent, author of Beyond Measure

Dust may seem inconsequential, so tiny and mundane as to slip below the threshold of thought. Yet within the next one hundred years, life on Earth will be profoundly changed by heat and drought – and that means dust.

In this ground-breaking book, Jay Owens argues that dust is a legacy of twentieth-century progress and a toxic threat to life in the twenty-first.

Dust: The Modern World in a Trillion Particles tells the gripping story of how the relentless drive for profit and power has turned the world to powder. Combining history and science, travel and nature writing, Owens shows how the modern world was made through environmental devastation – and then brushed the consequences under the carpet. From particle air pollution and nuclear fallout to desertification, dried-up seas and melting glaciers, we’ve profoundly altered the planet we live on. The cost to human health – and to the natural world – proves immense.

From the California desert and the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma to the desiccated remains of the Aral Sea and the edge of the Greenland ice sheet, we are shown that some of the planet’s most remote and forgotten places are central to the modern world. With clarity and insight, Dust: The Modern World in a Trillion Particles helps us understand our legacy and discovers the big ideas found within the smallest particles.

Combining history and science, a sweeping look at the smallest substance and the biggest challenges facing people and the planet

‘From Mark Kurlansky’s Salt and Laura Martin’s Tea to Jared Diamond’s Guns and Germs and Steel, can we now add geographer Jay Owens’s Dust?’ Telegraph

What's Inside

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'Like a detective dusting for fingerprints, Jay Owens masterfully reveals the hidden traces of modernity by following some of its smallest fragments. Dust is a hugely original and engrossing history. It's a book that captures our current age - its diffusion, its wonder, and its terror - as well as tracing its future fall-out, both literal and symbolic. - James Vincent, author of Beyond Measure
'Owens's pursuit of dust - defined very broadly as particles of a certain size, however generated - sends her tripping through many fascinating and rewarding realms . . . She's a superb travel writer, delivering with aplomb on her own idea of what geographers should be doing: Paying attention to tangible, material realities to ground our theoretical models in the world.' - Telegraph
'A profoundly original examination of our damaged, eternally connected world. There are ideas here I will carry with me for my whole life, having breathed them in with these pages as surely as we breathe the book's titular substance in with every living moment.' - Ray Nayler, author of The Mountain in the Sea
'Brilliant . . . Owens is a serious writer: impassioned but intelligent, powerful but subtle ... [a] first-class writer and deep-thinking environmentalist. This book is original and exciting.' Sunday Times
'Food for thought wrapped up nicely in a highly absorbing book.' Buzz Magazine
'Some of the most powerful narratives in the book centre on dried lake beds . . . The author tells the story beautifully, weaving together the strands of environmental justice, water rights and public health . . . a broad and insightful picture of how tiny partices influence our environment, our health and our relationship with the world around us.' Nature
'Owens's prose is often lyrical and her wide-ranging analysis highlights dust's overlooked historical significance . . . a competent and persuasive study of the big impact of small particles.' -- Publishers Weekly
'A fascinating and expansive examination of the causes of dust and its effect on people . . . Owens' writing is moving and persuasive, revealing passion about the subject . . . Readers will be fascinated by what enormous insights Owens conveys by thoughtfully examining something as tiny as a dust particle.' -- Bookist
'Who knew dust could be so exciting? Here it undergoes a thorough rebrand to elevate it from mildly annoying irritant to mind-blowing magic trick, global network and latest candidate for eventual downfall of our species.' -- Strong Words