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The Story of Earth: The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet First Edition
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***A Kirkus Top 25 Nonfiction Book of 2012***
“With infectious enthusiasm for his subject, Hazen introduces readers to Earth’s defining moments . . . [and] argues that understanding the interplay between Earth’s geological and biological pasts can help us predict and prepare for the future of life on our planet.”
—Saron Yitbarek, Discover
“A fascinating new theory on the Earth’s origins written in a sparkling style with many personal touches. . . . Hazen offers startling evidence that ‘Earth’s living and nonliving spheres’ have co-evolved over the past four billion years.”
—Kirkus, starred review
“Concise and colourful . . . Drawing on the latest research and influenced by advances in astrobiology, Hazen takes a radical standpoint . . . to tell the amazing tale of our planet’s intertwined living and non-living spheres.”
—Birger Schmitz, Nature
“Lively and vivid . . . Hazen is a master storyteller with a great story to tell . . . a sweeping rip-roaring yarn of immense scope, from the birth of the elements in stars to meditations on the future habitability of our world . . . Anyone new to Earth history will find Hazen’s account a revelation.”
—A. D. Anbar, Science
“I’m not competent to assess the accuracy of Robert Hazen’s thesis about geological and biological history, but I am competent to judge it a fascinating story, far more alive than you might guess if all you knew was the subject was old dead (?!) rocks.”
—Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet
“Hazen takes us on one of the grandest tours of them all—the 4.5 billion year history of our planet. From the atoms of the crust of the Earth come our bodies, the entire living world, and this exciting book. Read Hazen and you will not see Earth and life in the same way again.”
—Neil Shubin, paleontologist and author of Your Inner Fish
“Exceptionally readable [and] user-friendly . . . Science junkies and readers interested in the environment will find Hazen’s arguments compelling and his overview of Earth’s tumultuous history captivating.”
—Carl Hays, Booklist
“The Story of Earth is that rare book that can transform the way you see the world. By synthesizing a vast span of time and knowledge into crisp, delightful prose, Hazen really does make our planet into a story, and a compelling one. I was left with a new sense of context for our place in this galactic home.”
—Charles Wohlforth, author of The Fate of Nature and The Whale and the Supercomputer
“A gripping, well-told story . . . [Hazen’s] vivid descriptions of the early Earth’s tortured landscapes are a joy, as is his Carl Sagan-like gift for conveying the sheer age of our world and the vastness of space. A fantastic, stirring read.”
—Michael Marshall, New Scientist
“Cramming billions of years of geological evolution into a single book is a daunting challenge, but it’s one that Hazen, a geophysicist, has risen to splendidly.”
—Sid Perkins, Science News
“Hazen illuminates the origins of Earth and the origins of life [in] a thoroughly accessible book, mixing a variety of scientific disciplines to tell an unforgettable story.”
“Hazen has a gift for explaining science in lay terms, and even readers with a minimal understanding of geology, chemistry, and physics will find this book riveting.”
—Nancy R. Curtis, Library Journal
About the Author
Robert M. Hazen is the Clarence Robinson Professor of Earth Science at George Mason University and a Senior Scientist at the Carnegie Institution’s Geophysical Laboratory. The author of numerous books—including the bestselling Science Matters—Hazen lives with his wife in Glen Echo, Maryland.
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The only complaint I have is that the lack of illustrations of some of the topics, such as the motion of the protocontinents, would have made this book nearly a required read for any geology course. As it is, any student who had trouble finding a spark of interest in geology would be well advised to read this book to whet their appetite for a deeper understanding.
One section which was especially compelling was the section on the future of Earth. In discussing global climate change and its impact, Hazen correctly draws a distinction between saving the Earth and preserving humanity's future. The evidence he puts forth in a stark and no-nonsense manner would seem to bury any argument that humans have "nothing to worry about."
The only negative I found in the book was at the end he had a discourse about humans colonizing Mars or a moon of Jupiter if the Earth was becoming uninhabitable. I thought that was all absurdly far-fetched, considering the immense -- or most likely impossible -- technological difficulties and the unbelievable cost (like quintillions of dollars). Humans colonizing space is going to remain in the realm of science fiction, I am convinced. I'm afraid we are stuck with the fate of the 3rd planet from the sun, whatever that turns out to be.