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.
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Wow, Brian! Those are some fantastic reviews! I actaully got a little choked up reading them! I'm so so happy for you!
Pre-ordering my copy right now!
I definitely can't wait until it comes out, either, and impressed by the people who have given you raves, people who themselves have proven adept at writing on science for laypeople.
Man, that's impressive! Congrats!
All I have to say is, Wow!
I'll add my name to the list of those who can't wait to get hold of this book!
I promised to myself not to buy any book other than for strict study reasons until my yet-to-start MRes is over... but I'm sure I won't succeed in keeping the promise, and the fault is going to be yours too
(Although I'm going to study ecology, so the book is quite relevant to my studies ;) )
Thanks, everyone! I hope you all like the book when you get a chance to read it this fall.
Walter - I would hate to make you break your promise, but at least it's cheap! :)
Wow! Awesome! Can't wait to read the book!!!!
So very happy for you, Brian! You've worked so hard, and deserve the accolades. It's always nail-biting right before a book comes out, but I think your book will do just fine. :)
I pre-ordered as soon as it was available; congrats on the endorsements. I hope to review it as well within a week of receiving it.
Awesome! Congratulations Brian, that's some mighty high praise!
Excellent! It is going to be hard to wait.
Congratulations Brian! Encouraging praise from lots of luminaries--I am looking forward to reading your book (especially the section on whales).
Did you faint when you read those? Can't wait to get my copy. Congrats!
Man, talk about hauling out the big guns right up front! Congratulations, Brian!
Brian, congrats! (although based on your blog postings I didn't expect much less!) It's always nice to have some external validation for your work - from the top names in science writing no less.
Just another thought for your marketing campaign. Occasionally, I get e-mails from people asking me to review books. I just got one from a prominent biologist regarding his new book asking me to check it out. You don't even have to send them a copy of the book - often just asking is enough. The benefit is that you get a lot of people posting (mostly positive) reviews on Amazon and other sites, which raises the book's profile - and, most likely, sales. Seems like it's worked for that book.
Awesome news. So many congrats!
Those are going to look suuuu-wheet on the back cover and flyleafs. It's great to see you get that kind of recognition and support.
I can hardly wait to read it.
Wow!! See? I knew you were brilliant!
Oh, well done!!
Very nice! That must feel good. Based on your writings here, I figured your book would be good. I preordered a few weeks ago, and I'm looking forward to reading it even more now.
We all get to say "We knew him when he was just starting out."
Congrats Brian. I'm genuinely thrilled for you. Can't wait to actually read it.
Man, that's some high praise. Congratulations.
congratulations! major achievement.
Quietly places a pre-order on Amazon.com. :)
It isn't available as a hardback on release?