Covering over 3.5 billion years of life on earth in just 166 pages was always going to be something of a tall order. The History of Life is a whistle-stop tour of that period, taking us from the earliest fossils to the modern day.
Michael Benton is particularly good at describing the different ‘types’ of life punctuated by Earth’s great mass-extinction events. I was also pleased to see him dedicate the last couple of pages of this book to making it clear that evolution does not have any endgame in mind, that it is still ongoing, and that mankind is not the ‘pinnacle’ of our planet’s evolutionary history—just ask any cockroach!
“…wonderfully droll, witty and entertaining… At their best Carter’s moorland walks and his meandering intellectual talk are part of a single, deeply coherent enterprise: a restless inquiry into the meaning of place and the nature of self.”
—Mark Cocker, author and naturalist
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