Life: an Unauthorized Biography

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9780002555609: Life: an Unauthorized Biography

A magisterial exploration of the natural history of the first four thousand million years of life on and in the earth, by one of Britain’s most dazzling science writers.

What do any of us know about the history of our planet before the arrival of man? Most of us have a dim impression of a swirling mass of dust solidifying to form a volcanic globe, briefly populated by dinosaurs, then by woolly mammoths and finally by our own hairy ancestors.

This book, aimed at the curious and intelligent but perhaps mildly uninformed reader, brilliantly dispells such lingering notions forever.

It guides us from the barren globe spinning through space, through the very earliest signs of life on the rims of volcanoes, the appearance of cells, the creation of an atmosphere and the myriad forms of plants and animals (happily including dinosaurs) which could then evolve and be sustained, right up to the first appearance of man.

Richard Fortey ranges across a great multiplicity of scientific disciplines analysing findings and arguments about the origins of life, the causes of extinctions and the first appearance of man, in a wonderfully clear and refreshing way. At the end of the book we understand the complexity of the history of life on earth, and the complexity of how it has come to be understood, as perhaps, from no other single volume.

But it is not simply what Richard Fortey has to tell us that makes this book so distinctive. His grasp of the significant detail and his power of allusion mark him as one of the finest scientific explicators. This book entertains as much as it informs. The result if enthralling.

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Review:

‘Don’t drop dead until you have read The Hidden Landscape.’
Jonathan Keates, Observer

‘Richard Fortey communicates the excitement of science and scientific discovery to the lay person in a way that all scientific geniuses should be able to but often can’t. For sheer passionate communication of his subject, he has no one to beat him.’
Susan Hill, Radio 4

‘I have read The Hidden Landscape in a state of sustained fascination… We have here a new classic. This is popular science at its best.’
J.D.F. Jones, Financial Times

From the Back Cover:

What do any of us know about the history of our planet before the arrival of man? Most of us have a dim impression of a swirling mass of dust solidifying to form a volcanic globe, briefly populated by dinosaurs, then the woolly mammoths and finally our own hairy ancestors.

This book, aimed at the curious and intelligent but perhaps mildly uninformed reader, brilliantly dispels any such lingering notions forever. It guides us from the barren globe spinning through the very earliest signs of life on the rims of volcanoes, the appearance of cells, the creation of an atmosphere and the myriad forms of plants and animals (happily including dinosaurs) which could then evolve and be sustained, right up to the first appearance of 'homo sapiens'. But it is not simply what Richard Fortey has to tell us that makes this book so distinctive. His grasp of the significant detail and his power of allusion mark him as one of the finest explicators; his book seeks to entertain his readers as much as to inform them. The result is enthralling.

"Read this book because it is, indeed, the best natural history of the first four billion years of life on earth."
JOHN GRIBBIN, 'Sunday Times'

"Fortey writes beautifully and this is a wonderful biography of rock and life…He has restored paleaontology to its rightful place in the pantheon."
LEWIS WOLPERT, 'Observer'

"Richard Fortey is a scientist…but his big, rich history of four billion years of evolution is written with an artist's zest for life and language…There is a Darwinian grandeur of imagination in his retelling of the history of our planet, from the first solidifying of debris circling the sun, across the long millenia…Anyone who wants to understand how we came to be here on earth, 4,000,000,000 years after life began, should read this sparkling book."
MAGGIE GEE, 'Daily Telegraph'

"Richard Fortey is something much rarer than an eminent palaeontologist. He can write too…The tale of life needs constant retelling. Thank some happy accident of history that we have Fortey to tell it to us anew."
TED NIELD, 'New Scientist'

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Fortey, Richard
Published by Knopf, 1997 (1997)
ISBN 10: 0002555603 ISBN 13: 9780002555609
New Hardcover Quantity Available: 2
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Murray Media
(North Miami Beach, FL, U.S.A.)
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Book Description Knopf, 1997, 1997. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110002555603

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