This is a polemical book about diversity - both biodiversity, in terms of species (and even different breeds of cultivated crops and animals), and ethnic diversity, in terms of languages spoken. Glavin argues passionately that we are losing vast amounts of what makes the world special, and points out that the disappearance of human languages is closely linked geographically to the extinction of species. It is a dramatic story, and some chapters - particularly the one describing the Russian Far East - are simply appalling in their description of what we are doing to our world.
Despite the awfulness of the overall story, Glavin tries to be optimistic, and I too would like to be optimistic, but unfortunately I found his optimistic passages far less convincing than his pessimistic passages. (I also didn't quite manage to summon up enthusiasm to match his for the whalers of the Lofoten Islands or the Angh of Longwa.) I would have appreciated some more practical ideas for what can be done at an individual or political level to ameliorate matters - Glavin debunks romantic environmentalism, quite possibly with good reason, but without offering much in its place. Still, I guess the purpose of such a book is to raise consciousness, and mine is duly raised.