New project: Jared Diamond for YA readers

I’m delighted to have been chosen to turn bestselling writer Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee into a book for young people.

In addition to writing my own books, I’ve had the opportunity to write YA adaptations of several important works by gifted scholars and writers, making these works available to children and young adults. I’ve adapted Howard Zinn’s seminal People’s History of the United States, Charles C. Mann’s groundbreaking 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, and two works by Ron Takaki, a leading scholar of America’s ethnic history. Now I’m very happy to add Diamond and The Third Chimpanzee to that list.

Diamond may be best known for Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997) and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed (2005), but the big-picture subjects he treats in those books–the relationship of biogeography to history, the interaction of culture and environment, the place of humans in the animal kingdom–were first explored in The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal, published in 1992. The book is both an examination of the things that make humans unique and an introduction to the broad reach of Diamond’s thought and work. And like all of his books, it has anecdotes and reflections, many of them drawn from years of ornithological field work in New Guinea, that contribute to Diamond’s distinctive voice.

It’s a challenge and a responsibility to make such a complex, far-ranging book–one that deals with subjects as diverse as menopause, animal artists, and the spread of the Proto-Indo-European language root–accessible to kids. I’m enjoying it tremendously, and I look forward to the time when the book will be finished and ready for readers.