In this “biography of planet Earth,” biologist Rice combines a dizzying array of science history with pop culture references and occasional doses of snark to craft a most unusual title. One does not usually find mentions of “space cowboy” Bruce Willis, cats as catalysts, or God and angels all in the same discussion, but Rice is fearless and well read (James Thurber on sex, Kissinger on power, Darwin on everything). His insistence on writing about the planet rather than life on the planet frames the typical climate discussion in a new light, while also allowing the author to riff on everything from photosynthesis to altruism. The latter, framed as an obvious evolutionary step, brings his argument full circle from how the planet is to what it can be. His assertion that survival of the fittest is not about brute strength but rather exists “in animal species for which society is the most important aspect of the environment” goes against the grain, but clearly is a conclusion that merits further study. Thought-provoking and funny, this is science nonscientists can embrace. --Colleen Mondor
"Thought-provoking and funny, this is science nonscientists can embrace."
"…a concise and occasionally humorous book about Earth… Recommended."