Just finished The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. This is a fascinating book that looks at the history of the planet, the rise and extinction of any number of species and explores options for why the extinctions happened and why the one we are in the middle of is happening now. She also holds out hope that as humans we have the ability to look forward, see a problem and deal with it so that the worst case is avoided. She writes the science in such a way that a non-scientist like me can understand it. She is a story teller and even includes humor in what is in reality a very humorless tale.
There have been Five Great Extinctions, traceable through fossils, geological history, and anthropological studies. By concentrating on one species per chapter, Kolbert weaves her way through history from millions of years ago to the present. Her list of acknowledgments and references is impressive. She has done her intellectual homework as well as her field work, going into oceans and caves to explore with working scientists the evolution of the planet.
This book is well worth the read to keep you informed about what is happening in and to your world.