When Life Nearly Died : The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time, Paperback Book

When Life Nearly Died : The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


The greatest mass extinction in Earth's history happened some 251 million years ago.

In this cataclysm at least 90 percent of life was killed, both on land and in the sea, almost bringing evolution to a halt.

What caused destruction on such an unimaginable scale?

Was it the impact of a huge meteorite, or prolonged volcanic eruption in Siberia?

In this acclaimed book, newly available in paperback, Michael Benton assembles all the evidence and gives his verdict.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 336 pages, 46 illustrations
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Popular science
  • ISBN: 9780500285732

Other Formats



Free Home Delivery

on all orders

Pick up orders

from local bookshops


Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

A fascinating look at the history of geology and paleontology, as well as a cautionary tale of how scientists with a great reputation can actually impede scientific progress and understanding.It's also a record of how swiftly our knowledge is expanding; the author's hypothesis for the Permian extinction has already been overtaken by current discoveries. Still, this is a highly informative and entertaining book for the layman

Review by

It's difficult to give this book just one rating. The first half easily deserves five stars. The history of the discovery of the end Permian extinction reads like a detective story with a lot of twists and turns that are well explained. But then, in the second half of the book, the reader is suddenly left to their own devices with a lot of unexplained material gone through too quickly. Only towards the very end does the author pick up the way of story-telling of the beginning. It's as if the book had to be finished, and that makes the second half rather frustrating to read. So only three stars for the second half.The four stars I gave it is the mathematical average, but the book is partly better <i>and</i> worse than that rating.

Review by

Life is not always the vibrant, resilient abundant phenomenon we see around us. Sometimes it a few clams and pigs. Two-hundred and fifty-one million years ago, life nearly died. Why? Could it happen again?

Also by Michael J. Benton   |  View all