Skip to main content

Dancing at the Dead Sea

Tracking the World’s Environmental Hotspots

One hundred and fifty years after the publication of On the Origin of Species, award-winning environmental reporter Alanna Mitchell set out to retrace the idea of evolution and grapple with the fact that a massive extinction of the planet’s species was well under way. So began a three-year odyssey in which Mitchell picked up where Darwin left off, examining not just the origin but also the ultimate fate of our world.

Combining scientific curiosity with travel and adventure, Dancing at the Dead Sea takes the reader on an intimate tour through the world’s environmental hotspots. Readers join Mitchell as she tracks the spectacular biodiversity of regions as extraordinary as the island of Madagascar, the rain forests of Suriname, the parched oases of Jordan, the Arctic desert of Banks Island, the volcanic crests of Iceland, and, ultimately, the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin conducted his famous research. Along the way, Mitchell introduces us to the numerous scientists and conservationists who are working to protect these endangered places. She also chronicles the courageous efforts of everyday men and women in these regions as they try to convince governments to turn the world’s hotspots into environmentally protected areas.

Ultimately, Mitchell’s travels around the world compel her to ponder our shelf life as a species in the grand evolutionary scheme of the planet. She wonders what Darwin would make of the profound ecological destruction she witnesses. Is the human race suicidal? What can help our species avert extinction? Posing tough and cutting questions such as these, Dancing at the Dead Sea is a must-read for aficionados of good science writing and travel literature alike.

Read an excerpt.

239 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2004

Biological Sciences: Conservation, Ecology, Natural History

Earth Sciences: General Earth Sciences

Travel and Tourism: Travel Writing and Guides


“The itinerary of this winning pilgrimage is well-chosen to illustrate contemporary environmental crises.”

Publishers Weekly

"Well written and inspiring. . . . Should help awaken environmental awareness."


“A lively, impassioned ecological travelogue.”

Audobon Magazine

Table of Contents

Introduction: Dancing at the Dead Sea
1. The Devil’s Chaplain
2. In Search of Lemurs
3. Reading the Secrets of the Fossils
4. Parched Oasis
5. Sunken Graves of the High Arctic
6. Where the Rainforest Goes On Forever
7. Iceland’s New Power
8. Ocean’s End
Selected References

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press