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on 3 September 2009
... and never knew where to ask. This book is a triumph of structure, lucidity and design; it begins at the beginning, and lures you through the ensuing four billion years with seductive artwork, precise annotations, and crystal-clear prose. At its heart are 100 illustrations, each occupying a double-page spread, and recreating sites - from Western Australia to Arizona, from volcano to tropical forest, with ocean and desert inbetween - at crucial stages of the evolutionary story. The flora and fauna that existed at each period are imagined in delicate detail based on a seemingly forensic study of the evidence gleaned from bones and fossils. The composition is a joy - the true brilliance of which is revealed in a fold-out at the back of the book, where all the artworks flow together to create a panoramic view of the history of life. In addition there are discrete sections - site gazetteer, time-line, species listing, etc - which enable more detailed exploration away from the big-picture heart of the book.
It's unique - an extraordinary achievement.
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on 16 December 2009
'Evolution' has given me more pleasure than any other non-fictional book I have read in years. It is a book to pore over, to dip into and to explore. It is full of interest and sheer visual enjoyment. And there are some extraordinary surprises.

If mine had been the first review, I would have just sung its praises. As it's not, and others have done that very adequately, I thought it would be useful, instead, to identify what the book's particular features are, what it attempts to do and what it does not.

Unlike so many other illustrated books on the subject, 'Evolution' doesn't show examples of ancient species in isolation. Open it up anywhere in its main middle section and what you get is a piece of artwork extending across a big double-page spread. Each spread reconstructs an ancient landscape populated by animals and plants discovered at a specific fossil site. A double fold-out near the back cover reproduces all these spreads on a smaller scale showing that side by side they form a single huge diorama. 'Evolution' is a beautiful as well as an informative book.

The spreads follow one another chronologically. Above each there is a timeline showing exactly where you are as you journey through earth's history. Each specific site is named and some of its features are briefly mentioned (climate, geology and ecosystem). At the bottom of each page is a keyed list which names and identifies all the plants and animals shown. There are short but informative descriptions of the site, the geological period it represents and some of the lifeforms depicted. There are small photographs of some of the actual fossils, and blow-ups of parts of the main spread which draw your attention to particular details. Also at the bottom of the page is a small map showing the location of the site, and another which, page by page, traces the changing shape and arrangment of the continents. (I was fascinated to see Scotland finally bump into and attach itself to England down near the south pole in the Devonian period while the first fish were still crawling out of the seas. Amazing!)

At the front of the book there are short illustrated sections explaining the theory of natural selection, the different ways animals and plants get fossilised, and the history of evolutionary thought. At the back there is a large, colourful section which graphically traces the long and ever-branching lines of descent from single-celled lifeforms to the present ("cladistics"). There is a gazetteer of the sites, a more detailed description of each of the species listed, and a glossary of terms. In fact, there is enough here to keep you going for years.

The book is beautifully produced; the artwork is very attractive and will appeal I imagine to adults and children alike. It is informative and, being written in association with the Natural History Museum, I presume its science is reliable and up to date as well. What more can I say?
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on 21 October 2009
I agree with the previous reviewer in every detail. This book is a stupendous achievement. Working in association with the Natural History Museum in London to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth, Douglas Palmer, a science writer and lecturer at Cambridge University, and Peter Barrett, an internationally renowned artist, have created a vision of the story of life on earth in a format which makes it accessible to all ages. Two-thirds of every page is a developing pictorial history of life, each page following smoothly from the previous one so the story is seen as a continuum which hypnotises the mind - a unique concept which is brilliantly pertinent to the subject. This continuum is further clarified in the pull-out section inside the back cover, where the history, from the first organisms to the present day, can be seen in one sweeping panorama. The organisation of the format of the book must have been formidable. All children are fascinated by prehistoric life and before they are reading they will love the illustrations. But details are highlighted on each page, giving the scientific explanation which is yet accessible to all. The text on Darwin, on reconstructing the past, on fossils, on the explosion of life I find fascinating. My grandchildren already delight in showing off their knowledge - Oh, grandma, we all know it all started with a big explosion - and of the latin names of prehistoric animals. This will keep them occupied for winters to come. I hope the book may somehow become part of education in American schools especially those who teach 'Creationism' as an alternative subject.
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on 21 July 2010
Ever since I was in my teens I have loved information about past aeons, mass extinctions and prehistory in general.

This book is a gem because it shows me what I can't imagine-particularly the changing flora and the whole biodiverse picture.

It's a book to skim through and also to savour when you have the leisure. It includes current knowledge such as reconstructions of Flores man as well as new insights on older information (mass extinctions).

I recommend it. It is definitely one to enjoy.
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on 24 October 2010
This book can be appreciated by both adults and children alike. It is packed full of scientific knowledge and evidence of which is beautifully illustrated throughout.
I received this a a gift but my children often choose this as their bedtime book. It is fun to pick up and browse through or can be used for study. I really am confident that anyone who buys this will be using it for years. It is terrific value for money.
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on 29 December 2011
a great dinosaur book that depicts in great detail not only the T rex and triceratops but from the beginings of life all the plants insects and pond life great detail on the newest fossil discoveries with many jurassic mammals and with emphasis on life as it evolves pure darwinism has never been better presented
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on 8 January 2011
The book was delivered quickly ,and in good condition .This is an informative very well illustrated clear and readable text . I bought it as a Christmas present for my 13 year old nephew .It was hardly put down until they left after boxing day . I therefore had little opportunity to find fault with the text .
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on 18 May 2011
If you like prehistoric creatures then this book is for you. It brings the reader through every prehistoric era with great artwork showing the creatures and their environment. An additional supplement is DK Prehistoric which is glossier but not as informative on evolution. Recommended.
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on 9 February 2011
The book has fascinated two lively children of eleven and eight. It is an excellent, engaging and colourful presentation of the principles and details of evolution, all based on sound science.
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on 29 December 2015
Gorgeous book informative and beautifully illustrated.
Had a bit of a problem with the courier but kindly sent again with a different carrier
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