As the world's population continues to press into what were once uninhabitable territories, we are left with distressingly little space and diminished natural resources. Troubled by tensions that inevitably arise when civilization intrudes upon wild regions, Alison Hawthorne Deming set out to answer questions that had long been on her mind. By what do we measure our progress as a civilization? In the absence of vast frontiers, can we manage our ever-increasing numbers? How can we strike a balance with a natural world that we threaten by our very presence? To find the answers, she visited and lived in some of the most remote regions of our continent--southern Mexico, the Bay of Fundy, the islands in the Sea of Cortez--the edges of our crowded world. In places where fishing and logging are depleting the sea and land, and farmland has been handed over to developers, Deming sensed the pressures that tourism exerts on communities reluctantly willing to promote their regions' natural beauty. But what she also found was a fragile optimism that a new way of life may be created--one that reconciles the conflicts between the advance of civilization and the need to preserve our shrinking wilderness. The Edges of the Civilized World is a beautifully written, honest, insightful, and thought-provoking book. With the language of a poet and the eye of a scientist, Alison Hawthorne Deming presents us with the difficult challenge of redefining our traditional notion of cultural progress and thinking of our future in new terms.