This is a volume for diehard science fans, which combines a densely detailed 2-metre timeline with a newspaper style book chronicling the rise and progress of scientific discovery across the ages. Painstakingly researched, the book bears the hallmark of its Natural History Museum origins with a heavy emphasis on the theory of evolution and its outworking in mankind’s understanding of itself.
The book is strong in terms of format, with the journalistic tone making even ancient details interesting. The timeline also contains some fascinating facts, from the rise of olive farming in Ancient Greece, to the history of the domestication of cats by human beings in an effort to protect their crops. Not all readers will appreciate the density of scientific information on offer here, nor the book’s occasionally dismissive handling of religious understandings of the world and its origins. There is, however, much here to entertain and to engage in equal measure, and Andy Forshaw’s illustrations carry a sense of antiquity and quirkiness which is hugely attractive. Detail on the timeline is packed, and the printed font is small, but this is solved by using the ‘handy pocket magnifier’ with which the chart can be inspected at close range.
Science, history, philosophy and humour meet here in a happy mix, presenting themselves in a format which will attract and spellbind children with a strong interest in science.