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About the book
  • Published: 18 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784705435
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $22.99

Origins

How the Earth Shaped Human History




The Sunday Times bestseller that reveals the Earth’s awesome impact on the shape of human civilisations

‘Stands comparison with Sapiens… Thrilling’ Sunday Times
Read the Sunday Times bestseller that reveals the Earth’s awesome impact on the shape of human civilisations.

Human evolution in East Africa was driven by geological forces. Ancient Greece developed democracy because of its mountainous terrain. Voting behaviour in the United States today follows the bed of an ancient sea.

Professor Lewis Dartnell takes us on an astonishing journey into our planet’s past to tell the ultimate origin story. Blending science and history, Origins reveals the Earth’s awesome impact on the shape of human civilisations – and helps us to see the challenges and opportunities of the future.

‘A sweeping, brilliant overview of the history not only of our species but of the world’
Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads

‘Absorbing… A first-class read – and an important one’
Observer

  • Pub date: 18 February 2020
  • ISBN: 9781784705435
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $22.99

About the Author

Lewis Dartnell

Lewis Dartnell is an astrobiology researcher and professor at the University of Westminster. He has won several awards for his science writing, and contributes to the Guardian, The Times and New Scientist. He has also written for television and appeared on BBC Horizon, Sky News, and Wonders of the Universe, as well as National Geographic and History channels. A tireless populariser of science, his previous books include the bestselling The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch.

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Praise for Origins

“A sweeping, brilliant overview of the history not only of our species but of the world. Whether discussing the formation of continents or the role that climate (and climate change) has had on human migration, Lewis Dartnell has a rare talent in being able to see the big picture – and explaining why it matters.”

Peter Frankopan, author of THE SILK ROADS

“Origins by Lewis Dartnell stands comparison with Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens…A thrilling piece of Big History”

James McConnachie, Sunday Times

“‘Extraordinary… Origins is one of those rare books that dissolves mystery through the steady application of sublime lucidity. While reading it, I kept thinking: “Oh, that makes sense…” … Dartnell understands geology, geography, anthropology, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy and history. That’s quite an achievement, but what makes him special is the way he communicates the interconnectedness of these disciplines in a clear, logical and entertaining way…Superb.”

Gerard DeGroot, The Times

“Dartnell has an easy, light touch that mixes well with his considerable knowledge. The result is a first-class read – and an important one”

Robin McKie, Observer

“Dartnell has found the perfect blend of science and history. This is a book that will not only challenge our preconceptions about the past, but should make us think very carefully about humanity’s future”

Simon Griffith, Mail on Sunday

“Origins, snappily written, is a fast read … fascinating”

David Sexton, Evening Standard, *Book of the week*

“Dartnell’s story is beautifully written and organized. His infectious curiosity and enthusiasm tug the reader from page to page, synthesizing geology, oceanography, meteorology, geography, palaeontology, archaeology and political history in a manner that recalls Jared Diamond’s classic 1997 book Guns, Germs, and Steel”

Nature

“Dartnell is an eloquent, conversational guide to these daunting aeons of time”

Katy Guest, Guardian

“What a treat to see history through the eyes of an astrobiologist! Our history was shaped profoundly by the laying down of iron beds two billion years ago, by the tectonic forces that ripped open the African rift valley, by the slow cooling of the earth that began 50 million years ago, and by the evolution of grasses! Lewis Dartnell’s absorbing new book shows, with many vivid examples, how deeply human history is embedded in the history of planet earth”

David Christian, author of ORIGIN STORY

“An original and timely way of looking at human history through the materials and natural resources that our species has employed to such effect. It should be read by everyone who ponders how long exploitation can continue on a finite planet.”

Richard Fortey

“Endlessly enthralling, Lewis Dartnell explains why the history of humanity, and of human cultures, both take dictation from the deeper history of Earth herself - from broad generalities to surprisingly specific details. An entertaining and informative essay on contingency - and worthy successor to the writing of Stephen Jay Gould.”

Ted Nield

“Origins’ strength lies in the way it manages to conjure a tight, linear narrative from what would otherwise be an overwhelming wealth of insights, a feat aided by Dartnell’s soothing, conversational writing style… a captivating and enriching read, with as much to recommend it to those with an interest in geophysics as to students of human history and civilization.”

Ian Randell, Psysicsworld

“Origins is like a well-crafted jigsaw puzzle. Each piece fits together beautifully to build up a complete picture of the deep connections we have to the blue marble we call home… a thoroughly satisfying read for anyone interested in how our planet drove our history, and how everything is connected”

Jenny Winder, BBC Sky at Night, *Book of the Month*

“Big history is back… Origins is a bravura survey that captures our global zeitgeist and emphasises the limits of short-term historical and political thinking”

Jerry Brotton, BBC History

“A thrilling slice of big history and as good as Harari”

Sunday Times, *Summer Read of 2019*

“Enthusiastic and brimful of facts… Dartnell’s great achievement is that while he crams in a great deal, the reader doesn’t feel rushed. It moves from the dawn of agriculture, to ancient Mesopotamian merchants to the coal-fields of England without a bump”

Jon Wright, Geographical

“Instead of looking at what we have done to the Earth, he examines what it has done to us, interweaving the physical and social sciences in a clear, logical and joyously entertaining way… [a] wonderful book”

Gerard DeGroot, The Times, *Books of the Year*


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