The Story of Earth

The First 4.5 Billion Years, from Stardust to Living Planet

Robert M. Hazen - Author

Hardcover | $27.95 | add to cart | view cart
ISBN 9780670023554 | 320 pages | 26 Apr 2012 | Viking Adult | 5.98 x 9.01in | 18 - AND UP
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A groundbreaking chronicle of our evolving home

Hailed by The New York Times for writing "with wonderful clarity about science . . . that effortlessly teaches as it zips along," Robert M. Hazen now offers a radical new approach to geologic history.

Part nature writing, part astrobiology, The Story of Earth advances two controversial claims: just as humans evolved, so did Earth, and second, life on Earth evolved from minerals. The result is a spectacular drama of a planet that formed 4.5 billion years ago from the fallout of dead stars. As Hazen reveals how we gained a moon, then oceans, then continents, and finally oxygen-breathing life, we meet colorful personalities along the way—meteorite hawkers in the Sahara, the World War II navy officer whose super-pressurized "bomb" could melt rocks, and intrepid young explorers whose dispatches from Earth’s harshest landscapes are revolutionizing science. In a clarion call to remember Earth’s CO2-heavy past, Hazen also shows how human actions could transform our habitat in a geological blink.

The Story of Earth is both timely and of enduring relevance—a grand tour of our planet inside and out, and popular science of the highest order.


1 Birth The Formation of Earth

2 The Big Thwack The Formation of the Moon

3 Black Earth The First Basalt Crust

4 Blue Earth The Formation of the Oceans

5 Gray Earth The First Granite Crust

6 Living Earth The Origins of Life

7 Red Earth Photosynthesis and the Great Oxidation Event

8 The “Boring” Billion The Mineral Revolution

9 White Earth The Snowball-Hothouse Cycle

10 Green Earth The Rise of the Terrestrial Biosphere

11 The Future Scenarios of a Changing Planet




***A Kirkus Top 25 Nonfiction Book of 2012***

“With infectious enthusiasm for his subject, Hazen introduces readers to Earth’s defining moments . . . [and] argues that understanding the interplay between Earth’s geological and biological pasts can help us predict and prepare for the future of life on our planet.”
—Saron Yitbarek, Discover 

“A fascinating new theory on the Earth’s origins written in a sparkling style with many personal touches. . . . Hazen offers startling evidence that ‘Earth’s living and nonliving spheres’ have co-evolved over the past four billion years.”
Kirkus, starred review

“Concise and colourful . . . Drawing on the latest research and influenced by advances in astrobiology, Hazen takes a radical standpoint . . . to tell the amazing tale of our planet’s intertwined living and non-living spheres.”
—Birger Schmitz, Nature

“Lively and vivid . . . Hazen is a master storyteller with a great story to tell . . . a sweeping rip-roaring yarn of immense scope, from the birth of the elements in stars to meditations on the future habitability of our world . . . Anyone new to Earth history will find Hazen’s account a revelation.”
A. D. Anbar, Science

“I’m not competent to assess the accuracy of Robert Hazen’s thesis about geological and biological history, but I am competent to judge it a fascinating story, far more alive than you might guess if all you knew was the subject was old dead (?!) rocks.”
Bill McKibben, author of Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet

“Hazen takes us on one of the grandest tours of them all—the 4.5 billion year history of our planet. From the atoms of the crust of the Earth come our bodies, the entire living world, and this exciting book. Read Hazen and you will not see Earth and life in the same way again.”
Neil Shubin, paleontologist and author of Your Inner Fish

“Exceptionally readable [and] user-friendly . . . Science junkies and readers interested in the environment will find Hazen’s arguments compelling and his overview of Earth’s tumultuous history captivating.”
—Carl Hays, Booklist

The Story of Earth is that rare book that can transform the way you see the world. By synthesizing a vast span of time and knowledge into crisp, delightful prose, Hazen really does make our planet into a story, and a compelling one. I was left with a new sense of context for our place in this galactic home.”
Charles Wohlforth, author of The Fate of Nature and The Whale and the Supercomputer

“A gripping, well-told story . . . [Hazen’s] vivid descriptions of the early Earth’s tortured landscapes are a joy, as is his Carl Sagan-like gift for conveying the sheer age of our world and the vastness of space. A fantastic, stirring read.”
—Michael Marshall, New Scientist

“Cramming billions of years of geological evolution into a single book is a daunting challenge, but it’s one that Hazen, a geophysicist, has risen to splendidly.”
—Sid Perkins, Science News

“Hazen illuminates the origins of Earth and the origins of life [in] a thoroughly accessible book, mixing a variety of scientific disciplines to tell an unforgettable story.”
Publishers Weekly

“Hazen has a gift for explaining science in lay terms, and even readers with a minimal understanding of geology, chemistry, and physics will find this book riveting.”
—Nancy R. Curtis, Library Journal

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