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Life of Earth: Portrait of a Beautiful, Middle-Aged, Stressed Out World Hardcover – November 1, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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."

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (November 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1616142251
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616142254
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,689,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G.X. Larson on May 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are many popular science/biology books on the market but Professor Rice's "portrait of a beautiful, middle-aged, stressed-out world" should be read because it covers multiple aspects of life on earth. A glance at the table of contents gives us a preview: innovation, symbiosis, sex, altruism, religion, and "Faith in Photosynthesis", to name a few. Rice writes as a relaxed and confident naturalist and guides the reader through topics both large and small: the earth's long geological history, the evolution of the cell, and the important role of altruism in animal societies, among other topics. Look no further than Rice's "Life of Earth" for a pleasant introduction to, well, life on earth.
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