Even though I sometimes feel quite anxious about the publication of Written in Stone, the positive comments the manuscript has received so far have helped to relieve my apprehension. Professional reviews will not show up for another few months, of course, but during the process of composing the book – from pitching to my agent to asking my wife to read the completed copyedit-ready draft – I am glad to say that the early responses have been overwhelmingly positive. Nevertheless, when the time came to ask scientists and science writers for blurbs, my nervousness spiked again. These are people I admire and respect, scientists and authors who have done (and continue to do) high-quality work which has fostered my fascination with paleontology, so asking them to read my first book and provide an endorsement for the jacket gave me a slight bit of hesitation. It turns out that I did not have much to worry about. Here is what they said:
“In Written in Stone, Brian Switek simultaneously depicts our place in Nature while capturing the flavor of discovery and understanding our remote past in the fossil record. Elegantly and engagingly crafted, Switek’s narrative interweaves stories and characters not often encountered in books on paleontology–at once a unique, informative and entertaining read.”–Niles Eldredge, author of Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life
“Brian Switek’s Written in Stone is a wonderful journey through the fossil record, and the people and events that have shaped our understanding of fossils and their meaning. He weaves in entertaining anecdotes about the scientists and their discoveries (impeccably researched and up-to-date in historical detail) with our current view of these creatures, utilizing all the latest discoveries from new fossils to molecular biology. After reading this book, you will have a totally new context in which to interpret the evolutionary history of amphibians, mammals, whales, elephants, horses, and especially humans.” –Donald R. Prothero, author of Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why it Matters
“It is hard not to be awed reading Brian Switek’s magisterial Written in Stone. Part historical account, part scientific detective story, the book is a reflection on how we have come to know and understand ancient events in the planet’s history. Switek’s elegant prose and thoughtful scholarship will change the way you see life on our planet. This book marks the debut of an important new voice.” –Neil Shubin, Professor and author of Your Inner Fish
“Brian Switek proves himself a compelling historian of science with Written In Stone. His accounts of dinosaurs, birds, whales, and our own primate ancestors are not just fascinating for their rich historical detail, but also for their up-to-date reporting on paleontology’s latest discoveries about how life evolved.” –Carl Zimmer, author of At the Water’s Edge and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution
“If you want to read one book to get up to speed on evolution, read Written in Stone. Switek’s clear and compelling book is full of fascinating stories about how scientists have read the fossil record to trace the evolution of life on Earth. In it, you will read how dinosaurs gave rise to birds, how small deer-like land animals evolved into whales, and how many types of horses, elephants and early humans once roamed the Earth. In short, you will see how scientists through the ages have figured out man’s place in nature.” –Ann Gibbons, author of The First Human
I was floored by these responses, and I am extremely grateful to each of these people for their willingness to read my manuscript and provide a blurb. Taken together, I think these blurbs ably capture what I wanted to express through Written in Stone, and I hope that those who read the finished book will enjoy it as much as Eldredge, Prothero, Shubin, Zimmer, and Gibbons did. Speaking of which, Written in Stone is presently available for preorder – it hits shelves November 1, 2010.