A Slender Thread paperback







A Slender Thread hardcover

A SLENDER THREAD: Rediscovering Hope at the Heart of Crisis 

In A Slender Thread, through the stories of her callers - from Louise, a single mother on the verge of suicide, to "Saxman," a manic-depressive with a ghoulish sense of humor - Diane Ackerman offers fascinating parallels between human and animal behavior and suggests that crisis is an innate part of existence. A Slender Thread is a rare book that acknowledges the truth in life's pain but is also filled with hope, sensitivity, and a radiant generosity of spirit.




“Inspiring. . . . Ackerman has provided a lifeline to more readers than she will ever know.” — Los Angeles Sunday Times

“Both a sensuous road map through depression,  despair and loss of self, and a homage to the wonder,  multiplicity and rejuvenating power of nature, this new book from the author of A Natural History of the Senses  is, quite simply, wonderful. Ackerman leads the reader on a respectful, deeply emotional, life-affirming journey.” — Publishers Weekly


“This is more than just a marvelous book.  A Slender Thread is one of those rare moments in publishing: when a compelling subject is treated with sensitivity, wisdom and skill by an author who seems born to write about it.”— The Grand Rapids Press


“Her most important book since A Natural History of the Senses. Ackerman’s gifts are prodigious: supple prose, an eye for detail, original metaphor, a generosity of self.  But the overriding triumph of this book is how through anecdote and rumination, she takes the pejorative sting out of depression and suicide. A Slender Thread  is an absorbing,  memorable and engaging book.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer


“Ackerman, whose poetic sensibility shone so brightly in  A Natural History of the Senses (1990), here brilliantly captures the intimacy and intensity of her work. In A Slender Thread, Ackerman stands at the edge of a precipice with each troubled caller and comes away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for life. This sensitive, sharply observing book will convince readers that indeed there is,  as she puts it, “hope at the heart of crisis.” —  People Magazine


“Alive with Diane Ackerman’s brilliance and poetry, A Slender Thread  represents her usual best self: Her fans will not be disappointed and readers new to her work will marvel.  She is one of my favorite writers of all time.” — Elizabeth Marshall Thomas


“Poet and naturalist Ackerman writes with profound tenderness and wonder about the world, whether she’s describing an alligator or a hummingbird. Her intuitive grasp of the lives of animals has lead her to write,  in her most personal,  emotional,  and moving book yet, about people as a “renegade species”  determined to combat blind instinct,  achieve compassion,  and find joy. In a narrative lush with her signature gift for metaphor and delight in the senses,  and taut with the drama of her often frightening negotiations with people in the throes of every imaginable form of crisis,  Ackerman illuminates the bewildering workings of the resilient human psyche.  Extraordinarily knowledgeable and keenly attuned to the dictates of evolution,  she searches for the source  of our persistent loneliness and destructive reactions,  weaving bits of her own life into the stories of others. Ackerman is beyond category;  an Aeolian harp singing the myriad songs of life,  she helps us all focus on the miraculous.”   — Booklist


“A writer who inspires devotion in her readers,  Diane Ackerman comes across in her books as a thoroughly nice person  a mensch with a large,  ranging intellect. Readers will come away from A Slender Thread with a good deal of respect for Diane Ackerman and her fellow volunteer counselors  and for community.” — The New York Times Book Review


“From Ackerman come these graceful, canny reflections on her hours spent fielding calls at a suicide prevention center. Her voracious imagination and curiosity find her making forays into biochemistry and the artistic temperament, the weather and Walt Whitman,  bicycling and skiing, bringing them all to bear on her shifts at the crisis center. And it is not surprising that,  as a writer of luminous essays on natural history, she is able to convincingly free-associate between the emotional geography of animals (a group of squirrels she is studying for a project) and humans, and compare her telephone work to the long distance communication of whales, wolves, and birds. One could do a lot worse than to find Ackerman at the end of the line when feeling those desperately slippery moments of despair, the rush into the unknown.”— Kirkus Reviews


A Slender Thread is a fascinating human encounter: with troubled people at a crisis center, with the world of nature,  and with the author herself. Magically, Diane Ackerman manages to make poetry and reportage from all three in this,  her most important book.” — Herbert Mitgang


A Slender Thread is that rare book that understands both despair and hope, the urgency of speech as well as the importance of silence. Ackerman has provided a lifeline to more readers than she will ever know.” —  Newsday


“Ackerman writes brilliantly, her descriptions are charming, her keen observations are both original and scientifically astute.” —  San Francisco Examiner