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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 13, 2012
How do you build a planet that is capable of supporting life? What needs to happen to make this possible? In this revised, and greatly expanded, second edition the authors answer that question through a step-by-step guide. Each chapter builds on the next, starting from the beginning of the universe; to the very beginning of our solar system. The first edition was published in 1985, since then we have learned so much more about our planet and the universe around us. From plate tectonics, to exo-solar planets; even our understanding of the genetic code has improved. It is with great anticipation to read this work, for it brings together in one volume everything you need to know.

They cover all the major topics, but they keep it readable for the educated reader. You do not need to be a scientist to understand this book. It should be read by those people who want to more about how planets, stars, and solar systems form. The writing is precise, easy to read, with many pictures, graphs, and charts to help the reader. I hope that it is not twenty years before the next edition.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 31, 2012
I've chosen to use this book for my intro geology course this fall. Chapters 19 and 20, on resources and our present predicament, should be required reading for all voting citizens on the planet. Future generations owe Drs. Langmuir and Broecker a huge thank-you. Let's hope lots of people read it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2014
Spring, 2015 will be the third semester I’ve used “How to Build a Habitable Planet” in my introductory class, “Evolution of the Earth and Life.”

This book, play-tested for several years in the authors’ classes at Harvard, is incomparably the best introductory textbook on Earth systems and their evolution.

In the earth sciences, as in other fields, big-name publishers have been shamelessly short-changing students who want a good education. Standard textbooks are slickly produced picture books priced to make money at $100 a pop off huge “rocks for jocks” classes required by big universities in the Oil Patch; they are dumbed down accordingly, and advertised to professors shamelessly (and not in so many words) as “buy-a-textbook-and-go-through it” timesavers. These books commonly bill themselves as “the first textbook to fully incorporate earth systems science” just as they a generation ago as “the first textbook to fully incorporate plate tectonic,” and, by and large, have kept the tried-and-true plan that dates back in its essentials to James Dwight Dana.

I’d given up on stuff like this years ago. I’ve been teaching a systems-based course of my own design using lengthy lecture notes as a framework for a variety of recommended readings. Unable to find the many diagrams I’d wanted for teaching, and having gotten tired of sketching them on the blackboard every year, I’d broken down and produced them as PostScript graphics.

The original edition of “How to Build a Habitable Planet” (1984), published by “Eldigio Press” from Wally Broecker’s lecture notes from his course at Columbia, was good for small, informal, seminar-like classes. The present Revised Edition is fleshed out sufficiently for regular introductory courses.

I couldn’t believe the price when I first saw it. As it clearly testifies, the authors have been out to do humanity a service, and Princeton University Press has cooperated admirably.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2014
This is an indispensable resource and the material is very accessible. The book starts with the Big Bang and describes the evolution of the universe: stars, galaxies, solar systems and their contents, and on to Earth. This background prepares us for the relationship between the co-evolution of our planet and the life it supports. This comprehensive, multi-dimensional approach makes us realize (1) that we are part of a huge interconnected bio-geo-chemical and physical network; and (2) that humans have a special responsibility to protect that natural network.
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on December 11, 2014
It has over 200 pages and covers many subjects from the Big Bang to how humankind evolved. It goes into great detail about such things as how carbon dioxide stabilized the earth's temperature, despite changes in solar luminosity, moving continents, periods of ice ages, reptile changes, vast changes in life, and the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere. All these things are examined in great detail including about how life produced oxygen, in the ocean, which produced life on land. In all it really pointed out how every thing is connected.
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on March 7, 2015
Interested in climate change - the big bang - geothermal ocean vents - how we got here and where we are going - it's all here!
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2013
The book itself was fairly good, deserves 4 stars, but I'm reviewing the Kindle version which I thought could be improved. I've bought several other textbooks for my Kindle and they all "look" like textbook pages which I really liked - this book was adapted to fit my Kindle reader settings for other books (particular font size and a sepia background for easier reading) but for textbooks or books with diagrams and tables, I think preserving the textbook formatting would be best.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2013
it seems very detailed and will be a fun read. i got it as a geology major and am looking forward to seeing how everything comes together in the book at the end!
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