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RE: Richard Fortey

> From: owner-dinosaur@usc.edu [mailto:owner-dinosaur@usc.edu]On Behalf Of
> Brian Lauret
> Dear all,
> since this morning i've been wondering if I should buy Richard Fortey's
> 'Life : A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth'.
> I don't remember anyone mentioning it onlist so perhaps,it might not be a
> very great book. It gets an average of 4 out of 5 stars at Amazon.com but
> perhaps listmembers would not agree.

I used to assign it for my Earth, Life & Time students as a good overview of 
the history of life, but eventually found that (sadly)
too many American college freshmen weren't ready for his allusory style. I felt 
some of it was great (his description of Dolf
Seilacher, for instance, was spot on in my opinion!); however, the dinosaur 
chapter was probably (from my parochial point of view)
the weakest. (From a paleo-social issue, his characterization of dinosaur 
workers is really more a characterization of AMNH workers;
the two sets are not the same :-).

I highly recommend his _Trilobites: Eyewitnesses of Evolution_ (you'll learn a 
lot, and you'll see that he loves his little
scuttlers just as much any of us love our big lugs). I read _Earth: An Intimate 
History_ just this winter: good stuff (and I greatly
expanded my knowledge), but I wonder how much someone who wasn't familiar with 
geology already (and not just paleo/sed/strat) will
get out of it. (If someone out there fitting that category has done so, let us 

Hope this helps,

                Thomas R. Holtz, Jr.
        Senior Lecturer, Vertebrate Paleontology
Department of Geology           Director, Earth, Life & Time Program
University of Maryland          College Park Scholars
        Mailing Address:
                Building 237, Room 1117
                College Park, MD  20742

Phone:  301-405-4084    Email:  tholtz@geol.umd.edu
Fax (Geol):  301-314-9661       Fax (CPS-ELT): 301-405-0796