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How to Build a Habitable Planet: The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind Hardcover – 22 Jul 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; Revised and Expanded edition (22 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691140065
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691140063
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 5.6 x 23.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 252,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

[T]his classic history of our common home with the latest discoveries in planetary science . . . is a cutting-edge exploration of the Earth's evolution from the Big Bang to the advent of human civilization. -- "Barnes & Noble Review

To be worth being this unwieldy, a book ought to do something pretty remarkable. And that's just what "How to Build" . . . does, as you can tell from its subtitle, "The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind". Now that's what you call a large canvas.--Brian Clegg "Popular Science "


To be worth being this unwieldy, a book ought to do something pretty remarkable. And that's just what "How to Build" . . . does, as you can tell from its subtitle, "The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind". Now that's what you call a large canvas.
--Brian Clegg "Popular Science "

The authors . . . have taken on a mighty task. You cannot underestimate the accuracy of their scholarship, or its thoroughness.--Heather Couper "BBC Sky at Night "

This is a completely different book, wholly updated but also more detailed and more comprehensive. Yet, it keeps the bright flavour of the old version, and remains accessible without compromising on accuracy. . . . "How to Build a Habitable Planet" is an accurate and enjoyable read.--Euan G. Nisbet "Nature Geoscience "

Enormous advances have been made in the Earth sciences in the years since the original volume appeared. In addition, climate change has become a much more urgent topic. The revised version aims to bring the science up to date and to give a current environmental perspective. In this undertaking, Broecker has been joined by Langmuir, who now becomes first author. Their approach of providing each chapter with a clear introduction and summary will help greatly in accommodating the lay reader. . . . We can be grateful to the authors that they had the initiative and energy to undertake a scientific synthesis of such broad scope. . . . All who are concerned with the global environment and who wish to be scientifically well-informed in relation to it will find the book a worthwhile and inspirational challenge.--Ray Bates "Irish Times "

Although this 718 page book is over twice as long compared to the first edition, it is still a comfortable read both for earth scientists as well as nonspecialists. The diverse topics dealt with have been skillfully stitched together and each chapter provides lucid descriptions, logical discussions and a nice summary. This book could be an useful text for undergraduate students in earth sciences and with necessary supplements, could also be used for advanced courses in earth sciences.--Ramananda Chakrabarti "Current Science "

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a well-informed exploration of the theories behind building a habitable planet. Although complex in some places, it is still accessible to many and is overall a very useful addition to any astrobiologist's library.--Samantha Rolfe "Astrobiology Society of GB "

Honorable Mention for the 2012 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Earth Sciences, Association of American Publishers


Honorable Mention for the 2012 Award for Best Professional/Scholarly Book in Earth Sciences, Association of American Publishers


"[T]his classic history of our common home with the latest discoveries in planetary science . . . is a cutting-edge exploration of the Earth's evolution from the Big Bang to the advent of human civilization."--"Barnes & Noble Review"

"To be worth being this unwieldy, a book ought to do something pretty remarkable. And that's just what "How to Build" . . . does, as you can tell from its subtitle, "The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind." Now that's what you call a large canvas."--Brian Clegg, "Popular Science"

"Like any good story, the tale that Langmuir and Broecker tell is a complex, weaving narrative that would be ideally placed on your bookcase between James Kasting's "How to Find a Habitable Planet" and Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee's "Rare Earth." . . . As non-astronomers they cover the initial cosmological and astronomical sections adequately, but as the book develops towards explaining the processes that make Earth habitable, the authors' expertise really comes to the fore. . . . "How to Build a Habitable Planet" is Earth's story, but Langmuir and Broecker conclude with a nod to exoplanets and the search for alien life. Could it one day also become another planet's story?"--"Astronomy Now"

"The authors . . . have taken on a mighty task. You cannot underestimate the accuracy of their scholarship, or its thoroughness."--Heather Couper, "BBC Sky at Night"

"This is a completely different book, wholly updated but also more detailed and more comprehensive. Yet, it keeps the bright flavour of the old version, and remains accessible without compromising on accuracy. . . . "How to Build a Habitable Planet" is an accurate and enjoyable read."--Euan G. Nisbet, "Nature Geoscience"

"Enormous advances have been made in the Earth sciences in the years since the original volume appeared. In addition, climate change has become a much more urgent topic. The revised version aims to bring the science up to date and to give a current environmental perspective. In this undertaking, Broecker has been joined by Langmuir, who now becomes first author. Their approach of providing each chapter with a clear introduction and summary will help greatly in accommodating the lay reader. . . . We can be grateful to the authors that they had the initiative and energy to undertake a scientific synthesis of such broad scope. . . . All who are concerned with the global environment and who wish to be scientifically well-informed in relation to it will find the book a worthwhile and inspirational challenge."--Ray Bates, "Irish Times"

"[Langmuir and Broecker] strike a nice balance with roughly an equal number of chapters devoted to life, earth, and extraterrestrial processes. . . . What makes it work is the authors' admirable job of focusing tightly on how the many processes they outline feed into life's makeup or systems needed to support it."--"Choice"

"Although this 718 page book is over twice as long compared to the first edition, it is still a comfortable read both for earth scientists as well as nonspecialists. The diverse topics dealt with have been skillfully stitched together and each chapter provides lucid descriptions, logical discussions and a nice summary. This book could be an useful text for undergraduate students in earth sciences and with necessary supplements, could also be used for advanced courses in earth sciences."--Ramananda Chakrabarti, "Current Science"

"I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a well-informed exploration of the theories behind building a habitable planet. Although complex in some places, it is still accessible to many and is overall a very useful addition to any astrobiologist's library."--Samantha Rolfe, "Astrobiology Society of GB"

"This classic account of how our habitable planet was assembled from the stuff of stars introduced readers to planetary, Earth, and climate science by way of a fascinating narrative. Now it has been made even better."--"Lunar and Planetary Information Bulletin"

"Generally speaking, the book by Langmuir & Broecker is very reader friendly. . . . It can become an essential reading for both beginners and professionals in geology, palaeontology, and other natural sciences. Geoscience educators will also praise it. . . . This book is a very good addition to the conventional textbooks on general geology, and it can be recommended for students as advanced reading."--Dmitry A. Ruban, "Palaontologie Allgemein"

From the Back Cover

"In this comprehensive and engaging tour of environmental science, world-leading authorities Charles Langmuir and Wally Broecker provide the residents of the only habitable planet we know with the essential knowledge of how we got here and where we might be going."--Richard Alley, Pennsylvania State University

"As NASA continues to assess the habitability of our planetary neighbor, Mars, this insightful and approachable book is a timely reminder of how important it is to understand the habitability of our own Earth. Comprehensive and up-to-date, it exposes how ideas, imperfect understanding, and controversies drive scientific knowledge forward."--Roger Everett Summons, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"This is a magnificent book, a successful and very worthwhile revision of its legendary and coveted first edition. The new edition offers more than a minor dusting off of the material. There are some completely new chapters and the authors have also done a good job of introducing newer discoveries. This book is more timely than ever, and I greet this revision with uncontained enthusiasm."--Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, University of Chicago

"This book is exceptionally well written and easy to read. The authors have taken a huge and complex topic and simplified it, removed the jargon, used analogies common to everyday experience, and as a result made a book that should be accessible and enjoyable to readers with little background in science."--Becky Alexander, University of Washington

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Format: Hardcover
As the sub-title states this is "The Story of Earth from the Big Bang to Humankind". In fact it also goes further to discuss the future facing the planet, its ecosystems and humanity in particular. The subject material covered is comprehensive, encompassing several scientific disciplines including cosmology, nucleosynthesis, the Solar system, Earth structure, plate tectonics, geochemistry, the origin and evolution of life forms, the evolution of Earth's atmosphere, natural catastrophes and climate changes. The interdependence of the developments of the surface of the planet and of life on it is repeatedly emphasised, especially the recent influence of humans.

Readers lacking a scientific education might find parts of the text difficult; indeed the authors must have faced a problem in judging where to set the level of presentation. In this regard, I found the book to be a curate's egg, perhaps reflecting the dual authorship. Whilst I was able to "eat up" many of the chapters, others were hard going - not because the material was advanced, but as a result of the style of writing which in places appeared to have been hurried, lacking self-criticism and indeed sometimes careless. The authors seemed to make heavy weather of chemistry, insisting on treating the Earth-Life interaction as a fuel cell; one analogy too far for this reader. Similarly I found the central chapters on geology excessively verbose and laboured. By contrast the early material on cosmology and celestial bodies, as well as the five final chapters, made for stimulating reading.

The book suffers from a few serious errors of fact and many sloppy mistakes in the assembly of figures, tables or text which should have been corrected after careful proof reading.

Despite the adversely critical aspects of this review, I regret neither my purchase of the book nor my time spent reading it. The information within it should be made available to a wide readership.
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This book is a "must read" for any of us human beings who live on this extraordinary planet. It is very well written, covers the whole story of our "Habitable Planet" from the onset of big bang through the effects mankind is now having on the delicate balance of forces set in motion 13+ billion years ago, in such a way any one who "takes on" a careful reading of this book can grasp. Yes, there is a lot of "science and math" — enough to satisfy even the most rigorous scholar, but is also written for those of us who can't follow an equation or a chemical formula, the explanation in "plain English" is enough to allow any one to follow the lines of thought.

After a careful reading of this book, for me it is a "must read" for all and any who take any responsibility at all for our lives as human beings and the real consequences of our actions, as individuals and as a race of intelligent Beings who really need to wake up to see the effects or our actions, and see the real choice in front of us to participate in these forces of Creation that are so clearly presented in this book, or perish as a race and perhaps even destroy the possibility for this planet to support live itself in the foreseeable future.
Read it!
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While still in the process of reading this book, I can already give a few valid points.

1. It is is extensive, taking a considerable time to read!
2. It is very comprehensive, including a lot of detailed information that I was ignorant of.
3. Each chapter is well written with a concise introduction and summary (excellent).
4. Very much up to date.

I would consider this book a 'must' for any undergraduate in the Earth Sciences. I only wish I had this book when I was a student....
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Ahhhh. Well. Need to get your head down to get into this one. Great read however takes commitment. Commitment well rewarded by insight into some really super stuff. Again, inspired by the new stuff going on with geochemistry and geochronology. If you are doing an Earth Science course, this is an absolute must read. Tough going at times but hey, well worth it!
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The best book I have come across for accompanying a Geology degree. I am in my first year and it covers nearly all my modules, with such a diversity of up to date content and brilliantly written although still informative.
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