Best Books of 2006
Amid the antagonism and simple mistrust of the everyday fumblings between men and women and despite how Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? struck a chord with me whether I wanted it to or not Dao Strom's The Gentle Order of Girls and Boys (Counterpoint) was a healing read, with its reminder that we really can be human first and girl or boy second. And then there was The Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth (Atlantic Monthly), whose January publication kick-started the year's defining trend: the mainstreaming of global warming. 2006 began with President Bush's State of the Union characterization of America as "addicted to oil." Then there was the nationwide spate of church screenings of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Then there was this fall's emissions-reduction alliance between California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Apparently, achieving some common ground is possible, after all. And it began with Tim Flannery's seminal The Weather Makers, in which the scientist and former climate-change skeptic presents exhaustive data with an unflinching honesty (one out of every five living things on the planet is committed to extinction) that nonetheless avoids the sealed-fate formula dooming so many well-intentioned environmental accounts because there are so many losses we can still realistically prevent.