This gorgeously illustrated edition of Charles Darwin’s On The Origin Of Species (Sterling, $35) presents the renowned scientist’s work in lavish detail. The text is the original 1859 version that took London by storm, triggering debates that persist 150 years later. Editor David Quammen offers a compelling portrait of Darwin as a duty-bound scientist, quietly battling the status quo to express his remarkable discovery. Quammen’s exhaustive annotation includes revealing sketches from Darwin’s personal journals, beautiful photographs of the animals Darwin saw, and news clippings and editorial cartoons from the period.
What On Earth Happened? (Bloomsbury, $45) is a marvelous family present—adults will love it and they can read it with their older children. Christopher Lloyd, a science writer, has fashioned a highly readable history of Earth by time periods, employing scientific discoveries, history, religious and technological developments. The book is illustrated with maps, photos, and gorgeous reproductions of art masterpieces. Humility is called for: scientists estimate that animals emerged onto land 400 million years ago, modern humans evolved in Africa only 130,000 years ago and spread to other continents around 50,000 years ago—and the first powered flight took place merely 100 years ago.
The Seventy Great Mysteries Of The Natural World (Thames & Hudson, $45) is a stunning collection of essays and photographs on a large array of subjects. Broken down into seven sections, each containing ten essays, the book asks, among a great number of other things, “How did the Earth form?” “What makes volcanoes explode?” “How did the eye evolve?” “Why are insects so diverse?” and finally, in the last section, “What will Earth’s climate be like in the future?” Seventy Great Mysteries will certainly find a home on many families’ reference shelves; this is a book for all ages. Editor Michael J. Benton has assembled a talented group of contributors, each an expert in his or her field. Their clear, cogent explanations, together with color photographs, drawings, graphs, and illustrations, make this a wonderful book to browse in and learn from.