Death by fire, ice, poison gas, suffocation, asteroid. At five moments through history life on Earth was dragged to the very edge of extinction.
Now, armed with revolutionary technology, scientists are uncovering clues about what caused these catastrophes. Deep-diving into past worlds of dragonflies the size of seagulls and fishes with guillotines for mouths, they explore how – against all the odds – life survived and what these ominous chapters can tell us about our future.
“Gripping . . . Brannen excels at evoking lost worlds.” (The New Yorker)
“Clear-eyed, urgent, and eloquent. . . . Brannen offers an important education, making an argument for how better understanding what’s happened can help us determine how to move forward.” (Boston Globe)
“Timely to say the least . . . with grace and wit, [Brannen] makes a compelling case that recognizing our fortune and coming to terms with our fragility means consciousness prevails in the universe. We are still capable of changing the way we live.” (Paste Magazine)
“Masterful . . . might be just the book to give to that uncle of yours who still wants to argue about climate change (or even to your US Representative). But first, read it yourself. It’s a page turner.” (Ars Technica)
“If readers have time for only one book on the subject, this wonderfully written, well-balanced, and intricately researched (though not too dense) selection is the one to choose.” (Library Journal (Starred Review))
“Revealing . . . Effectively link[s] past and present, [while] wind[ing] down with projections for the future and a warning against inaction in the face of climate change.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A simultaneously enlightening and cautionary tale of the deep history of our planet and the possible future. . . . . entertaining and informative on the geological record and the researchers who study it. . . . a useful addition to the popular literature on climate change.” (Kirkus)
“Much-needed as a cautionary lesson and a hopeful demonstration of how life on Earth keeps rebounding from destruction.” (Booklist)
“A book about one apocalypse—much less five—could have been a daunting read, were it not for the wit, lyricism, and clarity that Peter Brannen brings to every page. He is a storyteller at the height of his powers, and he has found a story worth telling.” (Ed Yong, author of I Contain Multitudes)