cloth, 277 p., $29.95
Tracing the lengthy history of the planet, paleontologist Andrew Knoll provides an explanation of the development of the earth and its biological diversity. Evolving together, environmental changes affected emerging life forms, which in turn helped shape the planet’s history. To understand this evolution, readers become acquainted with the author’s personal experiences in the field and laboratory, where he sought to find the earliest recognizable life forms in rock fossils. Knoll also touches on scientific theory and research into life on other planets.
Frankly, those with minimal knowledge in the field of paleontology will find the text somewhat of a challenge, because of the scientific terms that are an integral part of the content. Despite these obstacles for the "scientifically challenged," Knoll’s prose manages to make the topic comprehensible and interesting. Readers will find his ventures into the field to find evidence of early life through fossils particularly enjoyable, for Knoll captures the explorer’s feelings of awe and delight in his diary.
— Marilyn K. Alaimo, garden writer and volunteer, Chicago Botanic Garden