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4.3 out of 5 stars
Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth
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on 5 January 2015
Even now this is a really interesting book. I'm in my 3rd of 4 years of a chemistry degree, and so decided to pick it up to give me some background about the environment of the earth, as well as how the way the earth's atmosphere has been changing in recent years.

The book is a fairly easy read (I am not just saying this because I am scientifically minded, Lovelock has a real talent for explaining very complex concepts in relatively simple language), and I never found it excessively heavy, even poetic at times. Lovelock, I believe, was one of the pioneers of Earth Systems science, and I think this was the book that catalysed the creation o that science, so from that point of view it's an incredibly important work.

Perhaps my one complaint (something that is amply dealt with in the introduction) is the way Lovelock seems to be hinting during the book at the fact that Gaia may be intelligent in herself. Obviously this isn't actually the case, but his use of language does sometimes make his intent ambiguous. If you can forgive this, it is a genuinely great (though fairly brief) read, I assure you.

Though I haven't read them, I am told his later books are somewhat more suitable for the more scientifically minded, but I really appreciate what lovelock has done here in creating an explanation of an incredibly complex topic, in a way that is both interesting and easy to understand! A wonderful read. Any questions, please ask!
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30 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on 20 August 2001
"Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth" explores the idea that the earth is a self-regulating, homeostatic system. Lovelock discusses the history of life on earth and the impact that all living creatures, from micro-organisms to humans, have had on our ever-changing planet. "Gaia" is clearly written, if a little informal at times, with short concise chapters explaining evidence for the existence of Gaia; the interaction between the biotic and abiotic parts of the earth and its atmosphere necessary to maintain constant gaseous and oceanic conditions to sustain life. Suitable for geographers and scientists alike, "Gaia" is an extension of Darwinian theory. This book challenges conventional theories and throws new light on the causes and consequences of current and topical environmental issues. Highly recommended. I will be reading more by Lovelock in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 28 December 2012
I enjoyed this book very much, although I'm still not sure if Gaia is alive. Gaia exhibits local entropy reduction which is a character of life, but so does the galaxy with star formation in the spiral arms. The book is thought provoking and has been updated well in this edition, although the importance of chaos theory to support the Gaia theory is not adequately explored. Deep Simplicity Deep Simplicity: Chaos, Complexity and the Emergence of Life (Penguin Press Science) expanded on this and I would recommend it.
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on 18 November 2013
I was encouraged to read this 18(!) years ago as an undergraduate - but never quite got around to it until now. What a mistake. This is an _incredible_ book that has the power to really change the way you see & understand the world. I wonder whether I would have made different academic or career choices had I read it earlier?

Of course, it is a book of its time - and some of the ideas/concerns seem a little dated to a present day reader - but the core idea remains - and will stand the test of time.
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on 3 August 2015
Simultaneously astonishing for its novelty when published (without Lovelock whole genres of ecology and earth science would be virtually unpopulated), it is also hopelessly dated now, as many of its era are, not just in terms of recent knowledge but also the tone which is of an earlier age. I still recommend it though to see how the Gaia movement started, showing that it is based on scientific enquiry rather than empty-headed New Age garbage which followed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2013
I've always wanted to read James Lovelock's books on Gaia and i wish all of them were available on Kindle
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on 13 May 2013
I enjoyed Gaia, it was thought provoking and written well, although I was still left wanting. I haven't read the Gaia books following this so hopefully they will fill in the gaps. Overall though, a good book.
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on 1 February 2014
I have always been one that signs up to the Gaia theory. If you are new to the idea it is worth looking in to. If you are already convinced and don't have one of James Lovelocks books - buy it.
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on 7 September 2013
Necessary reading for all those aware of the environmental crises that now beset us on all fronts - and written in a very readable style.
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on 11 July 2013
Perspective changing - this should be compulsory reading for everyone. Can't recommend this book enough - it is quite simply enthralling.
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