Paleontology & Geology

The Mistaken Extinction

by Lowell Dingus and Timothy Rowe
New York: W.H. Freeman & Company, 1997. 384 pages.

Perhaps the most up-to-date and comprehensive treatment of dinosaur evolution currently available, The Mistaken Extinction discusses both the origin of birds and the supposed extinction of the dinosaurs in detail, offering a very accessible discussion of modern taxonomy and cladistics en route. Writing in The New York Times Book Review, John Noble Wilford comments, "If their richly illustrated book is perhaps too comprehensive for cover-to-cover reading, it is well organized to be used for years as a reference work on all kinds of dinosaur and bird lore."

The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures : A Visual Who's Who of Prehistoric Life

by Douglas Palmer, Barry Cox, R. J. G. Savage, Brian Gardiner, and Douglas Dixon
New York: Simon & Schuster Books, 1999. 312 pages.

An unmatched reference work distinguished by its erudition and beauty, The Simon & Schuster Encyclopedia of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Creatures is an illustrated who's who of prehistoric life, a Baedeker of more than 500 million years of evolution on Earth.

Pioneers of Geology: Discovering Earth's Secrets

by Margaret W. Carruthers and Susan Clinton
New York: Franklin Watts, 2001. 144 pages.

Suitable for budding geologists in fifth through ninth grades, Pioneers of Geology engagingly presents the history of geology by concentrating on the life and works of six important geologists: James Hutton, Charles Lyell, G. K. Gilbert, Alfred Wegener, Harry Hess, and Gene Shoemaker (who not only discovered the comet Shoemaker–Levy 9, but also is widely considered the father of planetary geology).

Annals of the Former World

by John A McPhee
New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2000. 696 pages.

Assembled together in Annals of the Former World are no fewer than four of John McPhee's acclaimed popular books about North American geology — Basin and Range, In Suspect Terrain, Rising from the Plains, Assembling California — as well as the previously unpublished Crossing the Craton. Writing in The New York Review of Books, Stephen Jay Gould praised McPhee's "ability to capture the essence of a complex issue ...

The Mysteries of Terra Firma: Exploring the Age and Evolution of the World

by James Lawrence Powell
New York: Free Press, 2001. 272 pages.

In The Mysteries of Terra Firma, Powell — the author of Night Comes to the Cretaceous and Grand Canyon: Solving Earth's Grandest Puzzle, as well as the former president and director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History — describes the development of our understanding of the history of the earth by focusing on three themes: Time, Drift, and Chance.

Earthsteps: A Rock's Journey Through Time

by Diane Nelson Spickert, illustrated by Marianne D Wallace
Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2010. 32 pages.

Is the 250-million-year career of a rock a suitable subject for a picture book aimed at kindergarteners through third-graders? Yes! Writes the reviewer for The Children's Bookwatch, "Marianne Wallace's artwork is nothing short of spectacular. Diane Spickert's narrative text is absolutely faithful to the geology and paleontology of the Earth's record as recorded by fossils.

The Dating Game: One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth

by Cherry Lewis
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 272 pages.

"It is perhaps a little indelicate to ask of our mother Earth her age, but Science acknowledges no shame." So quipped Arthur Holmes, one of the major figures in the history of attempts to determine the age of the earth, and the subject of Cherry Lewis's lively biography, The Dating Game. The reviewer for Earth Sciences History writes, "it is always a pleasure — and alas, not a common pleasure — to read a really well-written geological biography.

The Map that Changed the World

by Simon Winchester
New York: Harper Perennial, 2002. 352 pages.

In The Map that Changed the World, Simon Winchester tells the practically Dickensian story of William Smith and his struggle to create what was arguably the first true geological map. Winchester writes, "Geology, it seems almost redundant to say, underlies and underpins everything: the site of every city, every gold mine, every field, every island is determined purely by geology — and humanity's condition is more directly influenced by geology than by any other aspect of the natural world.

Time's Arrow/Time's Cycle

by Stephen Jay Gould
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987. 240 pages.

In Time's Arrow/Time's Cycle, Stephen Jay Gould reconsiders the discovery of deep time by focusing on "the three cardinal actors on the British geological stage — the primary villain and the two standard heroes", that is, Thomas Burnet, James Hutton, and Charles Lyell.

Great Geological Controversies

by Antony Hallam
New York: Oxford University Press, 1990. 256 pages.

From the publisher: "a widely acclaimed account of the most celebrated controversies in the history of geology — a book that covers many of the most important ideas that have emerged since the birth of the science. Among the great debates described here are those involving catastrophe theory, uniformitarianism, the discovery of the Ice Age, speculation concerning the age of the earth, and the advent of new ideas on plate tectonics and continental drift. In presenting these key topics, the author opens the fascinating history of geology to a wide audience.