Reviews

'[A]n exuberant romp through evolution, like a modern-day Willy Wonka of genetic space. Gee’s grand tour enthusiastically details the narrative underlying life’s erratic and often whimsical exploration of biological form and function...[A] seamless and highly compressed account of life’s grand narrative, spanning its full duration of about 4.6 billion years. It is a tale of resilience and tenacity, and his writing is evocative and filled with humor.' 

-- Washington Post

'This history of life on Earth exhilaratingly whizzes through billions of years...Gee is a marvelously engaging writer, juggling humor, precision, polemic and poetry to enrich his impossibly telescoped account...To weave such interconnected wonders into a book the size of a modest novel is essentially an exercise in precis and a bravura demonstration of the editor's art...Gee's final masterstroke as editor is to make human sense, and real tragedy, from his unwieldy story's glaring spoiler: that life dies at the end.'


'With dramatic flair, Henry Gee's sweeping new book ... tells the 4-billion year story of life on this planet and how it has been repeatedly shaped by geological, climatic and atmospheric forces. ... the reader is rewarded with a deeper appreciation of our own place in the grand scheme of life, where even the best-adapted species disappear within a time that is minute on the scale of evolution'. 


'This is the enlightening story of survival, illuminating the delicate balance in which life exists. Henry Gee's lyrical prose personifies creatures and conveys life's evolutionary steps with alluring intimacy.'


'This one is easy to sum up. Brilliant book. Buy it.'
 
 
'Gee's prose is so infectiously enthusiastic, and his tone so accessible, that you'll find yourself racing through as if you were reading a novel -- and you'll never find yourself scrambling for a good fact to wheel out at an awkward pause in conversation again.'


‘Once upon a time…’ The opening words of Henry Gee’s new book give notice that what follows will be a story – and a dazzling, beguiling story it is, told at an exhilarating pace... [a] hugely enjoyable page-turner'

-- Literary Review

'Mr Gee narrates a marvelous true story that unfolds as a series of exciting cliffhangers.'


With authority, humor, and detail, Gee, a paleontologist and senior editor of Nature, traces the progression of life on earth from its initial stirrings...readers will find this eye-opening book compelling for years to come.'

-- Booklist

'Gee (The Accidental Species), a paleontologist and senior editor at the science journal Nature, finds beauty in adversity in this eloquent account of how life evolved on Earth. ... Action-packed and full of facts, this well-told tale will delight lay readers.'
 
 
'[Gee's] lively, lyrical history covers 4.6 billion years, from bacteria through dinosaurs to mammals including Homo sapiens. Humans, Gee says, will eventually become a thin layer in sedimentary rock, to be eroded as dust that sinks to the ocean bottom.'
 
 
'Gee has a remarkable ability to describe how species and their environment have shaped one another. Throughout life's perilous journey, extinction and evolution swing in perfect rhythm. Gee neatly portrays this dance in a way that dissolves life's mind-boggling complexity into something digestible for everyone.'


 'A high-octane popular science book'


 'Through Gee’s masterful storytelling, he manages to give this scientific exploration of the universe and Earth an almost human sense of longing to be considered as more than the sum of its parts. You become emotionally invested through this sense of yearning and want to find out what happens next, as if Earth is your new favourite character. This identification with the planet keeps you flipping through to find out more about what may have previously been dull, scientific data. And the gravitas is just staggering.'


'Put the goggles on and tie down any loose items, because billions and millions of years are going to fly by in a matter of a few pages… but one never loses the big picture, not the sense of wonder at life’s ingenuity, ... Gee’s own sense of wonder at this, and his unbridled enthusiasm, shine through the entirety of A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth, and he makes for an engaging, sometimes poetic but always easy-to-follow tour guide. Finally, one of the guides I always use for how much I like a non-fiction book is if/how much I read of the notes. I read them all. And highlighted large chunks (so don’t skip them).


'From the extremely distant past and the start of life itself, to what may be our last battle on this planet, it is poignant and critical to understand where we are now, and why we have the challenges that we face today ... 10/10'

-- World of Paleoanthropology

''Gee takes readers on a 4 and a half billion year journey of the origins of life on our planet. Not a coffee table book, but an articulate scientific trip for the layman through the remarkable and chaotic random events that ends with humans, who now have the ability to destroy it all.' 

'Readers should be chastened at his conclusion, shared by most scientists, that Homo sapiens is making its habitat—the Earth—progressively less habitable and will become extinct in a few thousand years. Gee writes lucid, accessible prose' 

-- Kirkus Reviews

On the Dutch Edition

'De geschiedenis van het leven, zoals het daadwerkelijk is gebeurd, gaat miljarden jaren terug en kan dus een eindeloos lang verhaal worden. Henry Gee pakt het anders aan en maakt van deze bijzondere geschiedenis een spannend verslag dat je makkelijk kan onthouden en navertellen. Het is een overlevingsverhaal, vol cliffhangers, avonturen, helden en schurken, en dat allemaal gebaseerd op de laatste wetenschappelijke onderzoeken' 

 -- Stretto

On the German Edition 

 'Mit dem heiteren Fatalismus [derer], die in den ganz großen Linien denken, beantwortet [...] Henry Gee [...] die Frage, was das menschliche Vermächtnis sein wird' 

-- Süddeutsche Zeitung 

'Was sich da so alles an seltsamen Lebewesen auf unserem Planeten tummelte, wie das Leben selbst die Lebensbedingungen veränderte und es fünf Mal aus unterschiedlichsten Gründen zu globalen Massensterben kam, erzählt der leitende Nature-Redakteur höchst kenntnisreich und macht einmal mehr deutlich, wie kurz und vergänglich die Existenz des Menschen auf der Erde ist.'

-- Der Standard

On the Italian Edition 

See review in La Repubblica here

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