This isn't so much a book about coral as a book about various topical scientific subjects, using coral reefs as the unifying theme. In it, Steve Jones gives expositions on invasive species, nuclear testing, climate change, diamond cartels, chaos theory, symbiosis, and many other subjects, all of them linking back in some way to coral reefs.
Despite the general pessimism alluded to in the book's subtitle, we are still in classic Steve Jones territory, with clear, unpretentious writing and lots of dry humour. Great stuff.
I did, however, have one minor quibble: at one point, Jones writes about the massive industrial chemical complex on what he refers to as the dismal banks of the Mersey. Dismal once, maybe, but it is a long time since Jones worked a mile from my birthplace on the delightful Wirral Peninsula, and vast amounts of money have been spent cleaning up the Mersey. I walk along the banks of the Mersey most lunchbreaks, and they are anything but dismal. Oh, and the chemical complex isn't, as Jones states, in Merseyside: it is in idyllic Cheshire—the county of crumbling cheeses and disappearing cats.