A substantial selection of classic essays allows readers to trace the history of the essay from Swift to Woolf and Orwell and beyond. A selection of the finest of contemporary essays—from Witold Rybcynski to David Sedaris and Elizabeth Kolbert—provides a broad sample of the genre in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The academic essays begin with classic selections from such writers as Darwin and Charles Lyell, but the emphasis is on recent decades. Emphasized as well are academic papers or essays that have been especially influential or controversial, from Luis and Walter Alvarez’s suggestion that an asteroid caused the extinction of the dinosaurs to Judith Rich Harris's argument that the influence of peers may be at least as influential in the formation of personality as that of parents. Works of different lengths, levels of difficulty and subject matter are all represented, as are narrative, descriptive and persuasive essays. Also included in the text is a range of questions and suggestions for discussion. The text selections are numbered by paragraph for ready reference. Added to the second edition are new selections by Malcolm Gladwell, Doris Lessing, Eric Schlosser, Binyavanga Wainaina, and over twenty others. This new edition also provides pairings of informal and academic articles that address the same topic, allowing readers to consider contrasting approaches.