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Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth Paperback – September 7, 1999
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Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
As I began reading I soon became disillusioned with Fortey's approach. If he wanted to write his autobiography, wedged in here and there among his main topic, why in the world didn't he tip off the reader by having a better subtitle? I did press on and complete the book, and found it to have meaningful content and thought-provoking ideas, but after all was said and done I was left wanting.
Fortey deserves commendation for undertaking such a massive topic, in 322pp no less! As I read through his account in search of information that would provide me with a clue to the framework he uses to understand the natural history of life on earth, I felt like I hit speed bump after speed bump in the form of occasionally interesting, but often meaningless, diversions. I'm sorry, but I could really care less, for example, what a hotel traditionally frequented by paleontologists serves for breakfast, or Fortey's personal reflections on Australian ponds where "the jolly swagman rested his tuckerbag"!
Don't get me wrong, those are wonderful literary side steps in this largely scientific work, but for me they were only distractions rather than useful contributions to the work.
Fortey does do a great job in some areas...Read more ›
You might expect a book like this to be mechanistic, starting at the beginning and cranking by rote through the sequence of events that constitute the earth's history. Fortey doesn't do this. In a cordial and poetic style he first introduces us to the real world of paleontology. A world of dirt, grime and fierce winds on forsaken beaches bordering forgotten islands of the far north. This is where Fortey began his carrier, and where he made a first mark in the study of extinct organisms from earth's ancient past. This first chapter is important because it reminds us that our knowledge of earth's history has come in fitful starts in which chance and luck have played a central roll. Only a fraction of all creatures leave fossilized remains, only a fraction of those are ever found, and even then they must be interpreted through the preconceptions of scientists. The miracle is that we know anything at all - but we do, and what a story it is.
Having introduced the working of paleontology, Fortey devotes the second chapter to the origin of the first life forms. This chapter is of necessity the most barren of all. We still don't understand the origin of life, though there have been remarkable strides in recent years.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Yes it's unfair to review a book after only 31 pages; moving on then.
Firstly, Forget has grievously erred not once but twice by asserting that the heavier elements in... Read more
Fortey is an excellent writer with an excellent knowledge of his subjects.Published 5 months ago by R. martin
I was hoping for a little less personal anecdote and a little more framing. I have done some reading about the past, but am mostly a lay reader - without my prior reading I think I... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Gadget Wallah
Buy this book!
Both beginners with an interest in ancient life and professionals who want to re-live their enthusiasm for the discoveries of ancient life will love this book. Read more
Great story! Well based in science but full of well founded imagination and personality.Published 11 months ago by Michael Reif
Highly readable, full of interesting tidbits, insights and tales about life's interesting journey thus far, as well as glimpses of scientists themselves at work trying to... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Kristin Andersen
Great book ! Very good copy, as described, delivered quickly. Good vendor.Published 14 months ago by Charles K.