Origins: How the Earth Made Us by Lewis Dartnell
(Bodley Head, 2019)

Origins: How the Earth Made Us

by Lewis Dartnell

“Why is the world the way it is? I don’t mean this in a musing philosophical sense: why are we all here? But in a deep scientific sense: what are the reasons behind all the major features of the world we find ourselves in today? And not just the physical landscape of continents, mountains, oceans, but also the biological world of plants and animals, and microbes too. How has the fabric of planet Earth itself, the evolution of life on it, and even our cosmic environment, affected the development of civilisation and the history of our societies and cultures? In what ways has planet Earth itself been a lead character in the story of humanity? How far do the roots of our modern world stretch back in time, and across the changing face of the Earth, and how do these lines of causation interact with each other, connecting seemingly unrelated effects by unexpected and astounding common causes?”

Explaining how Homer’s Odyssey really begins in a deep ocean vent, and why US voting patterns strictly follow the contour of a coastline that hasn’t existed for a hundred million years, Buried Light is Big History written by a scientist.

Reviews

A sweeping, brilliant overview of the history of 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
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.”
- The Mail on Sunday
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
This is an inspired story of the human species as shaped by the environment.”
- The Guardian
Dartnell understands geology, geography, anthropology, physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy and history. That’s quite an achievement, but what makes him really special is the way he communicates the interconnectedness of these disciplines in a clear, logical and entertaining way. Origins is one of those rare books that dissolves mystery through the steady application of sublime lucidity.”
- The Times
Origins by Lewis Dartnell stands comparison with Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens… A thrilling piece of Big History ”
- The Sunday Times
Fascinating”
- Evening Standard