Picador lands short history of life on Earth

Picador lands short history of life on Earth

Picador has landed A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth by senior Nature editor Henry Gee.

Ravi Mirchandani, editor-in-chief, acquired UK and Commonwealth plus translation rights from Jill Grinberg at Jill Grinberg Literary Management. A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth: 4.6 Billion Years in 12 Pithy Chapters will be released in spring 2022.

The book draws on the latest scientific understanding, much of it first published in Nature, for “a tale of survival and persistence, illuminating the delicate balance within which life exists”.

Its synopsis explains: “For billions of years, Earth was an inhospitably alien place—covered with churning seas, slowly crafting its landscape by way of incessant volcanic eruptions, its atmosphere in a constant state of chemical flux. And yet, despite facing literally every conceivable setback that living organisms could encounter, life on Earth has learned and adapted and continued for over four billion years. From the earliest humble slime that filled the atmosphere with oxygen; to the sponges that cleansed the oceans for other animals to live in; to the venturesome fishes with legs that sought life beyond the sea—and, by way of amazing amphibians, dramatic dinosaurs, to the thrilling and unlikely story of ourselves.”

Gee is senior editor at Nature, and a former Regents Professor at the University of California. His journalism has been published in the Guardian, Times, Le Monde, El País and the Hindu.

Mirchandani said: “I have admired Henry Gee and his writing literally for decades, so it is an enormous pleasure to be publishing his new book. Reading Henry's telling of the story of life on Earth is as gripping and fascinating as watching a time-lapse film of our planet, as continents move, icecaps grow and contract and, throughout, as species emerge and fade into extinction, life adapts and thrives and continues, despite everything, undaunted.”