The cover of "Deep Things out of Darkness: A History of Natural History," by John AndersonThe cover of "Deep Things out of Darkness: A History of Natural History," by John Anderson

Deep Things out of Darkness: A History of Natural History, by John Anderson, College of the Atlantic’s W.H. Drury Jr. Professor of Ecology and Natural History, features the stories of some of the world’s natural historians—how they discovered what they did, what propelled them into their fascination with the natural world, and most importantly, why this matters. 

Published by the University of California Press, Deep Things out of Darkness has been called “a sweeping work of passion and erudition,” resonating with the persistent joy of discovery, and “a remarkable work of scholarship that reads like a spirited conversation with a very smart friend.”

COA President Darron Collins studied with Anderson when a student at the college. “Like his heroes, these naturalists, John always encourages his students to get out into nature, to notice everything intimately, knowing that’s how we all fall in love with the natural world,” he said. “He gave me that insight when I was his student 20 years ago. Now Deep Things Out of Darkness brings these insights to a wider audience.”

This topic—natural history, or the deliberate observation of the world around us—may well be that of the oldest science. After all, knowledge of our environs was once the essence of human survival. Failure to distinguish one species from another could mean the poisoning of one’s entire family. Today, natural history studies may be more about survival of nature, the hope as Anderson writes, that “our children will have something of wonder to pass on.”

Anderson holds a BA in zoology from the University of California, Berkeley, an MA in ecology and systematic biology from San Francisco State University and a PhD in biological sciences from the University of Rhode Island. He has taught biology, natural history, and ecology at COA since 1987, where he served as Associate Dean for Advanced Studies from 2000 to 2008. He is a member of the executive council of the Waterbird Society, a past member of the executive council of the Ecological Society of America, and is also a fellow of the Linnaean Society of London.