When Life Nearly Died by Michael J Benton

When Life Nearly Died: The Greatest Mass Extinction of All Time - Michael J. Benton

This is a nicely written book that investigates the Permian mass extinction event approximately 250 million years ago that wiped out 90% of all species on Planet Earth.  The author starts with the history of geology and paleontology, and describes the various historical means of approaching geological problems.  The author also takes a look at the Cretaceous mass extinction which killed the dinosaurs.  This is an up-to-date (2015) edition of the book that includes new information on what caused the Permian mass extinction and how life recovered afterwards.  There is a fair amount of technical terminology at the beginning of the book, but this doesn't detract from the beautiful writing and fascinating information.