Friday, April 22, 2016

Last of the Giants … Earth Day {+ Giveaway}

In observance of Earth Day, I’m excited to welcome Jeff Campbell, author of LAST OF THE GIANTS: The Rise and Fall of the Earth’s Most Dominant Species, here today to talk about conservation and awareness.
Thanks to Emma and the wonderful folks at Zest Books, I have a copy of Jeff’s book, LAST OF THE GIANTS, to giveaway in celebration of the occasion. Please see the end of the post for more details.
Here’s a brief synopsis of the book:
Today, an ancient world is vanishing right before our eyes: the age of giant animals. Over 40,000 years ago, the earth was ruled by megafauna: mammoths and mastodons, saber-toothed tigers and giant sloths. Of course, those creatures no longer exist, due to the evolution and arrival of the wildly adaptive human species, among other factors. Many more of the world’s biggest and baddest creatures—including the black rhino, the dodo, giant tortoises, and the great auk—have vanished since our world became truly global. Last of the Giants chronicles those giant animals and apex predators who have been pushed to extinction in the modern era.
Please join me in welcoming Jeff to Thoughts as we discover more about conservation. Welcome, Jeff.
To me, storytelling is storytelling, whether you are telling fictional stories or real stories. If a story doesn’t move you, if it doesn’t surprise you with something new or unexpected, if it doesn’t inspire you to care, then what’s the point?
I wrote Last of the Giants to highlight the need for conservation and to bring awareness to the world’s ongoing extinction crisis. But especially in a book for young adults, I knew I couldn’t just toss out a bunch of facts and figures. Quantifying a crisis and spouting numbers never inspires anyone. Stories do.
So I chose to tell thirteen dramatic stories about animals that, in their own ways, boggle the mind. The moa, the aurochs, the thylacine, the Steller’s sea cow: these were dominant, bizarre creatures who, if not for us, would still exist in the world. And for each, the story of their demise is as surreal as the animals themselves. Each was unique and irreplaceable, and Earth is a poorer place without them.
But I didn’t want to just look at the past, either. Plenty of large, charismatic animals remain, but they are increasingly endangered, and we need to act to conserve their habitats if we want to keep them in the world. Tigers, lions, rhinos, grizzlies, the giant tortoise—all these animals are beautiful, strange, and wondrous. They are the ultimate expression of evolution and life on our planet.
I wanted Last of the Giants to celebrate these creatures and to take joy in our coexistence with them. Joy and delight are often missing when we speak of conservation, but that’s why we do it, isn’t it? Of course, partly we don’t want to speak of lions or rhinos in the past tense, but mostly we take pleasure knowing they exist. So long as that’s true, there’s always a chance that one day we might meet them ourselves, face to face, in the wild where they belong, eyeballing one another across a stretch of humid African veldt. 
That’s what I dream about. You never forget your encounters with giants. Those are always great stories to tell.
Jeff, thanks for joining us with this look at how we need to conserve in order to save. We are on the verge of losing some beautiful creatures that we should be protecting.
For those not familiar with Jeff, here is a bit of background on him.
Author Jeff Campbell
Jeff Campbell, author of Daisy to the Rescue (2014) and Last of the Giants (2015), is a writer and book editor who has enjoyed a diverse 25-year career in publishing. He was an award-winning travel writer for Lonely Planet for over a decade, coauthoring over a dozen travel guides, including several editions of USA, Hawaii, Florida, and Southwest. As a book editor, he has specialized in nonfiction, notably helping to develop four of Dr. Marc Bekoff’s books on the emotional lives of animals, which inspired his passion for how own writing about animals.
Currently, Jeff is also a part-time creative writing teacher for grade school students in Morristown, New Jersey, where he lives with his wife and children.
Thanks to the wonderful folks at Zest Books, this giveaway is for one print copy of LAST OF THE GIANTS by Jeff Campbell. The giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. only and will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, May 2.
To enter the giveaway, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and follow the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load so please be patient. A winner will be selected by the Rafflecopter widget and I’ll send an email with the subject line “Thoughts in Progress Giveaway.” The winner will have 72 hours to reply to the email or another winner will be selected. PLEASE be sure to check your spam folder from time to time after the giveaway ends to make sure the notification email doesn’t end up there. If you win and you’ve already won the book somewhere else or you just decided for whatever reason you don’t want to win (which is fine), once again PLEASE let me know.
Thanks so much for stopping by today. If you could bring back one extinct animal, what would it be and why? If you could save one animal that you feel is being driven to extinction, what would it be and why?


  1. Sad to think that we could lose some of these amazing animals!

    I've always thought it would be so wonderful to see a dinosaur. Maybe a T-Rex. Although Jurassic Park was pretty scary! Maybe they're meant to be extinct, in this particular case.

  2. This sounds so fascinating! My greatgrandkids would be thrilled if I won this.

  3. Is there a way to correct a rafflecopter entry? My easy entry is incorrect.

  4. What an absolutely fascinating topic for a book! And it's something we really do need to be aware of, too. It sounds as though the book's quite readable, too, which is a bonus for me.

  5. This feature is extremely interesting as is the wonderful book. Thanks.

  6. Sounds like a good read. Cool cover.

  7. sounds wonderfully interesting

  8. Anything "mammoth" era scares me, but wouldn't it be great to visit a Jurassic park and all extinct wonders.

  9. This looks like a great book!

  10. We're part of a fossil hunting group here in Florida, and as Florida was underwater while dinosaurs roamed, most of the fossils we find are for large land mammals that roamed here just as little as 10,000 years ago....mammoth, giant sloth, and three-towed horses for example. It's amazing how quickly the large mammals are disappearing now due to human interference.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.