If you want to be swept off your feet by the great story that is life on earth, this is the book to read. Fortey is a scientist with the relatively rare gift of making not only scientific facts but also the romance of science accesible to the layperson. His tone is conversational, his language clear and his style humourous. He starts off with an entertaining anecdotal chapter on how he himself became involved in paleonthology and from there jumps back some 4 billion years, to when it all began. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself in this book. The only criticism is that the somewhat crummy black and white photographs are rather meagre as illustrations. I would have liked more and better pictures of all the wondrous life forms that Fortey describes with so much panache. Still, in spite of this the book is worth five stars to me.