TITLE: Bring Back the King: The New Science of De-Extinction
AUTHOR: Helen Pilcher
PUBLICATION DATE: 2016
In this book, Helen Pilcher takes an introductory look at the science of de-extinction, covering such topics as the de-extinction of dinosaurs, neanderthals, mammoths, a variety of extinct birds, the thylacine, Elvis Presley, as well as some other random questions, ethics and concerns.
The book reads more like a collection of excessively padded magazine articles stuffed into one package. There is also an excessive amount of "cutsie" humour (also bad jokes) in this book which simply falls flat; as well as too many personal intrusions from the author. The discussions of the actual de-extinction science are uneven - some animals are lucky enough to get their situation and the science explained in a fair amount of detail, others will get an over-simplified explanation. The ethics, challenges and if the whole things is a good idea is glossed over in one chapter.
The majority of the chapter on Neanderthals involves too much author speculation and personal emotion in her speculative story of a neanderthal baby. The chapter on Elvis is just silly and self-indulgent. Pilcher could have found a better way to discuss general genetics and epigenetics, and she oversimplifies what she does write about the topic. The chapter about the white rhino gastric brooding frog are informative, and better written than the others.
This book is easy to read, funny (to other people) and would probably make a good introduction to the subject for people who aren't too particular about the amount of hard science in their popular science books. Teenagers might like it too.
Otherwise, there are a selection of other books on the same topic that are better written:
-Resurrection Science: Conservation, De-extinction and the Precarious Future of Wild Things by M.R. O'Connor [Deals more with the conservation angle]
-How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction by Beth Shapiro [Includes more physical science involved in de-extinction and all the ethics and possibilities]
-Rise of the Necrofauna: A Provocative Look at the Science, Ethics, and Risks of De-Extinction by Britt Wray [Focus on the ethics, risks and possibilities of de-extinction science]
- How to Build a Dinosaur: The New Science of Reverse Evolution by Jack Horner & James Gorman
For those interested in epigenetics:
-The Epigenetics Revolution by Nessa Carey