David Abram's first book, The Spell of the Sensuous - hailed as "revolutionary" by the Los Angeles Times, as "daring and truly original" by Science - has become a classic of environmental literature. Now Abram returns with a startling exploration of our human entanglement with the rest of nature.

As the climate veers toward catastrophe, the innumerable losses cascading through the biosphere make vividly evident the need for a metamorphosis in our relation to the living land. For too long we've inured ourselves to the wild intelligence of our muscled flesh, taking our primary truths from technologies that hold the living world at a distance. This book subverts that distance, drawing readers ever deeper into their animal senses in order to explore, from within, the elemental kinship between the body and the breathing Earth.

The shapeshifting of ravens, the erotic nature of gravity, the eloquence of thunder, the pleasures of being edible: all have their place in Abram's investigation. He shows that from the awakened perspective of the human animal, awareness (or mind) is not an exclusive possession of our species but a lucid quality of the biosphere itself - a quality in which we, along with the oaks and the spiders, steadily participate.

With the audacity of its vision and the luminosity of its prose, Becoming Animal sets a new benchmark for the human appraisal of our place in the whole.


"As with many deeply original - and radical - books, this work may startle, even provoke the reader in its electric reversal of conventional thought. Worth any provocation for the profundity of its insights, this is a portrait of the artist as a young raven, arguing, with all the subtlety of his mind, for the mindedness of the body. An exercise of uncanny imagination by a writer who has a sixth sense for the intelligence of the first five."

- Jay Griffiths, author of Wild: An Elemental Journey

"Books can be great in several ways. Some encapsulate the spirit of their time. Some grow in profundity, as the reader returns to them again and again, marveling at how much the author is saying that had been missed in earlier encounters. Some make break-throughs in established fields of knowledge. And some, a very few, leave you experiencing the world differently after you've read them, never to return to what seemed obvious before the encounter.

David Abram wrote one of these few with his book The Spell of the Sensuous. Now, alone among all I have ever read, he has done it again with his just released Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology. Mind, the self, the world - all take on a new visage.

Becoming Animal takes the reader to places I had long thought the printed word could not go: into that visceral non-verbal multi-sensory encounter with the more-than-human world within which we are immersed. We encounter this world all the time, with every breath, but we have learned to be tone deaf and blind to it. It has become invisible to all of us much of the time, and much invisible to many of us all of the time." READ THE FULL REVIEW

- Gus diZerega, www.beliefnet.com

"...One of the most compelling and important ecology books in decades: Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology (Pantheon Books, 2010). Through encounters with wild creatures and terrains, Abram reminds us that we do not stand outside nature as independent observers, but rather fully within, embedded in a dynamic, living world. We exist only in relationship to this world. Our species, however technologically complex, co-evolved with every living thing around us...

As I read Becoming Animal, I felt a great sense of relief that someone with experience and intelligence was able to articulate this message with such graceful storytelling. Fourteen years after Spell of the Sensuous, David Abram has given us another classic that will help us ponder our future and choose our actions wisely..." READ THE FULL REVIEW

- Rex Weyler, www.greenpeace.org

"How did our curious, inventive species go from worshiping nature to destroying it? A creative and visionary ecologist and philosopher, Abram addressed this complex and urgent question in his influential first book, The Spell of the Sensuous. In his second provocative, boldly recalibrating blend of stories, reflections, and discoveries, he offers perception-heightening insights into the causes of our disparagement of "sensuous reality," or "bodied existence," and the disastrous consequences of our increasing detachment from the living world as we funnel our attention to the cyber realm. As Abram identifies underappreciated aspects of our minds and bodies that evolved to enable us to respond with exquisite sensitivity to our surroundings, he tells extraordinary tales of his encounters with wildlife from whales to ravens, illuminates the planet's myriad forms of sentient life, and elucidates the significance of oral, storytelling cultures. In addition to writing with poetic precision about sensory experience - his analysis of shadows and life's reciprocity are phenomenal feats of observation and eloquence - he also draws on his adventures as an itinerant sleight-of-hand magician and apprentice to indigenous shamans to forge an inspirited physics of being. We can't "restore" nature, Abram writes, without "restorying" life, hence his prodigious, transfixing, and rectifying "earthly cosmology.""
- Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)