Actor/director/teacher. Split my time between Beijing and Seattle now. Listen to Audible on the subway and while driving. Love the reviews.
I would have to listen several more times to Hazen's very clear explanations of the details of the scientific evidence for our understanding of the history of the planet before much of it would remain in my sieve-like memory for more than a few days. What WILL persist, however, is a deep respect for the painstaking and ingenious scientific process which has yielded so much concrete understanding of events in the unimaginably distant past. The book also provides a broadly brush-stroked sequence for the Earth's development, often featuring vivid descriptions of the landscape and dynamic processes which bring the scientific findings to life in panoramas which will remain in my memory. (The image of our moon, a mere 12,000 miles away and gigantic in the sky, hurtling by overhead every few hours sporting visible volcanic fracturing, for instance.) What's more, I never would have guessed that rocks and minerals would become so fascinating and central to my understanding of the rise of life.
Hazen's narrative is replete with details of change. Two kinds of change: that which has driven the history of the planet through constant and extraordinary formation, destruction and reformation with only occasional periods of stasis, and that which has marked the development of our scientific understanding of our own particular niche in the universe. The result is a picture of mixed certitude and conjecture, and he is quite clear about the difference between the two. This is a fascinating listen, very well read. If you can deal with a good deal of clear but fairly detailed technical explanation, I recommend it to you highly.
I have read several physics books (including some written by Greene) so I have some background in the topic, but I am far from understanding it all. Greene does a very good job of making insanely complicated concepts (like multiple, folded, hidden dimensions) accessible to someone who doesn't have a Ph.D in math. He frequently uses real world analogies to bridge this gap, and even though the concepts are still daunting for a lay person, Greene makes them a little more accessible.
However, whatever his talents as a writer, Greene should leave it to professional readers to read his material. I found his voice and presentation very irritable, especially over the course of a long unabridged audio book. I almost stopped listening, it grated on me that much. Listen to a sample before downloading, and you may decide to read it instead of listening.