Rarely do I find nonfiction books that troubles me. This is such a book. It certainly has made me think and should make any reader think. However, I am concerned because it is written for younger readers, and they might not have enough facts at their disposal to recognize the bias that this work presents.
Environmental protection is a high priority for most responsible people. How we accomplish this, is sometimes the topic of huge debates. This book, on the surface, proposes to examine all view points and to open the eyes of the reader to the situations and the proposed solutions. In reality it takes a very definite view of environmental issues and negates or, in some cases, fails to explain the opposing views.
The author takes the position that anyone who disagrees with his conclusions is wrong. He certainly has the right to his opinions and the right to publish them, but to voice those opinions to middle school and/or high school readers as the “real” facts and to make them think that, unless they “see” things his way, they are wrong, moves the book into a type of indoctrination.
I had a person who has a degree in Natural Resources read and review this book. He had some of the same concerns that I had. He went on to state that while the author quotes many sources, he is in actuality quoting the opinions of others. He is not analyzing data from environmental studies. So, the information being presented is a second hand opinion.
Fleischman is an acclaimed writer of fiction for children and young adults. He has also authored some nonfiction books, but they are not about extremely controversial subjects, as this one is. I would like to have seen a more balanced approach to the subject with some questions being offered for the reader to consider on each subject.
There is an excellent chapter on How to Weigh Information which I actually used in considering the credentials of this author. He tells the reader to check out the references and the author – which I did. The sources he used, and those he recommends, are extensive.
I suppose I am more than a little put off by his attitude that the consumers are stupid and only more government regulations will save us from our stupidity. However, I recommend it for the high school library, with the caveat that opposing viewpoints exist and should be recognized. This book is also available in ebook format and in audio.
If you have read this book, I do welcome your comments