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Life: an Unauthorized Biography Paperback – 6 Apr 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; New Ed edition (6 April 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 000638420X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0006384205
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 34,617 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

‘This is not a book for people who like science books. It is a book for people who love books, and life… [Fortey] has written a wonderful book.’
Tim Radford, Guardian

‘Read this book because it is, indeed, the best natural history of the first four billion years of life on earth.’
John Gribbin, Sunday Times

‘Fortey writes beautifully and this is a wonderful biography of rock and life… He has restored palaeontology to its rightful place in the pantheon.’
Lewis Wolpert, Observer

‘Richard Fortey is a scientist… but his big, rich history of four billion years of evolution is written with an artist’s zest for life and language… In his last chapter Fortey quotes Goethe:
“Zum Erstaunen bin ich da – I am here to wonder.”
Richard Fortey has the rare gift of making his readers share that wonder. Anyone who wants to understand how we came to be here on earth, 4,000,000,000 years after life began, should read this sparkling book.’
Maggie Gere, Daily Telegraph

‘The tale of life needs constant retelling. Thank some happy accident of history that we have Fortey to tell it to us anew.’
Ted Nield, New Scientist

From the Back Cover

What do any of us know about the history of our planet before the arrival of man? Most of us have a dim impression of a swirling mass of dust solidifying to form a volcanic globe, briefly populated by dinosaurs, then the woolly mammoths and finally are own hairy ancestors.

This book, aimed at the curious and intelligent but perhaps mildly uninformed reader, brilliantly dispels any such lingering notions forever. It guides us through the barren globe swirling through space, through the very earliest signs of life on the rims of volcanoes, the appearance of cells, the creation of an atmosphere and the myriad forms of plants and animals (happily including dinosaurs) which could then evolve and be sustained, right up to the first appearance of Homo Sapiens. But it is not simply what Richard Fortey has to tell us that makes this book so distinctive. His grasp of the significant detail and his power of allusion mark him as one of the finest explicators; his book seeks to entertain his readers as much as to inform them. The result is enthralling.

“Richard Fortey is a scientist… but his big, rich history of four billion years of history is written with an artist's zest for life and language… There is a Darwinian grandeur of imagination in his retelling of the history of our planet, from the first solidifying of debris circling the sun, across the long millennia… Anyone who wants to understand how we came to be here on earth, 4,000,000,000 years after life began, should read this sparkling book.”
MAGGIE GEE, 'Daily Telegraph'

“Richard Fortey is something much rarer than an eminent palaeontologist. He can write too… The tale of life needs constant retelling. Thank some happy accident of history that we have Fortey to tell us anew.”
TED NIELD, 'New Scientist'

“Read this book because it is indeed, the best natural history of the first four billion years of life on earth.”
John Gribbin, ' Sunday Times'

“Fortey writes beautifully and this is a wonderful biography of rock and life… He has restored palaeontology to its rightful place in the pantheon.”
LEWIS WOLPERT, ' Observer'

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on 26 January 2007
Format: Paperback|Verified Purchase
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on 13 March 2017
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HALL OF FAMEon 26 March 2004
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on 22 September 2001
Format: Unknown Binding
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on 29 January 2011
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on 31 August 2000
Format: Paperback
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on 17 March 2017
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on 17 July 2013
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