Los Angeles Times

"Thanks to Kathy Sawyer's vibrant writing, "The Rock From Mars" unfolds like a Hollywood cliffhanger. Sawyer . . . subtitles her book "A Detective Story on Two Planets," and she delivers both the suspense and the puzzle plot that one expects from the mystery genre. . . Although "The Rock From Mars" is fun, it is also a good picture of how science is done. Readers may cheer for the McKay team, but they leave the book understanding that scientific research is ultimately not about who's right or wrong but about the building up of knowledge."
—M. G. Lord, The L.A. Times

The New York Times

"Kathy Sawyer, in "The Rock From Mars," offers a popularized yet meticulously researched chronicle of the Mars rock's short life in the public eye. But the rock itself is a MacGuffin. Ms. Sawyer's real story is the drama of high-stakes science and the way big discoveries can quickly devolve into a messy argument over money, politics and professional status. A lot was riding on the rock, and the infighting, among scientists and bureaucrats alike, often turned vicious. "I want to sit up front," one scientist said as he arrived at a debate between two Mars rock opponents. "I want to see the spittle."

. . . Ms. Sawyer has a knack for translating complex procedures and ideas into accessible language and vivid images. She also has a gift for political comedy, both scientific and governmental, and an infectious enthusiasm for the cut and thrust of scientific debate. The madly whirring bureaucratic machinery of the White House, set in motion by the Mars rock, makes delicious reading . . ."
—William Grimes, The New York Times

The Washington Post

"Sawyer's book shines when she describes the team's intellectual struggles; she lovingly takes us into the scientists' laboratories and shows us how they finally reached their jaw-dropping conclusion. Sawyer then shepherds us from the intellectual leap to the political kerfuffle."
—Charles Seife, The Washington Post

San Francisco Chronicle

" 'The Right Stuff' it's not. However, if you can overcome your disappointment in the lack of hotshot astronauts and continue reading, you'll gain insight into the fascinating way that scientific research is conducted in the United States. And while there aren't any little green men (unless you count daylight-starved Ph.D.s), plenty of quirky characters, tense showdowns and celebrity cameos -- Carl Sagan, Dick Morris and Al Gore all get into the action -- keep the story moving along."
—Jenn Shreve, The San Francisco Chronicle

Entertainment Weekly

"Hers is a fascinating account of an epic battle--with profound intellectual and spiritual dimensions . . ." (Grade) A-
—Wook Kim, Entertainment Weekly


Sawyer "skillfully juggles big-picture context and nitty-gritty details.” Her book "also details an aspect of the sciences that usually is hidden: the hard work, imagination, rivalry, adventure and even occasional danger. . . Sawyer captures the reader's attention from the very first page, with the Saganesque majesty of her opening imagery."
—Michael Sims, BookPage

The Journal Nature

" Ms. Sawyer has produced a model of science writing for the general public. . . [She] reports with commendable balance on the intense controversy generated by McKay et al.’s announcement, and her lucid writing should prove largely comprehensible to the non-scientist. She accurately depicts the day-to-day life of the scientists involved and also brings out how their observations and ideas are processed by the scientific community as it gropes its way towards the truth...

While I would have preferred to see the book conclude with closure of this tumultuous episode in planetary science, this is nonetheless an outstanding popularization of science which deserves to be widely read, not least by those interested in the “logic of scientific discovery”."
—John F. Kerridge, the journal Nature

Natural History

“Sawyer provides a razor-sharp portrait of good science at work.”
—Laurence A. Marschall, Natural History Magazine

Publishers Weekly

"This book is an engrossing read for science buffs and general readers alike."
—Publishers Weekly

Booklist Online

"Sawyer, a celebrated science journalist who writes with energy, clarity, and levity, vividly portrays the key players and thoroughly explicates the complex science involved. Opening a portal onto the nexus of science, politics, and the media, she relishes the elaborate strategies surrounding the public announcement of this bold assertion; the leaks that preceded it; and the raging debate that followed. As suspenseful and intriguing as the human drama is, what is most memorable are Sawyer’s precise descriptions of the mysterious molecular landscapes the scientists discerned within the meteorite…Much was learned from the impeccable data the dedicated scientists gathered, and their inquiry has advanced our effort to decode the cosmos."
—Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)

American Scientist Online

"Once in a great while, science offers up a tale as compelling as any found in fiction and someone comes along who is equipped to tell it well. In The Rock from Mars, journalist Kathy Sawyer realizes the full potential of a great science story in all its multidimensional complexity and richness. . .The political story is riveting [and the book provides] “a case study of the role of public relations in the operations of modern institutions. . . Insight into the NASA press office is especially timely considering its recent alleged attempt to stifle discussion of global warming. In showing how publicity considerations are crucial to agency management, Sawyer not only departs from the official NASA story line offered by the PR people, but she turns it inside out.”
—Richard Greenberg, The American Scientist (magazine of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society)

Read the complete review »

“The Rock from Mars is a unique tale of scientific investigation, a page turner that commands rapt attention to the very end.  Kathy Sawyer brilliantly captures the thrill of discovery and the agony of debate as experts profess, protest, and probe what may be the greatest scientific discovery of all time.”
—Stephen P. Maran, author of Astronomy for Dummies and editor of The Astronomy and Astrophysics Encyclopedia

"This riveting story is skillfully told with authority and in great detail by Kathy Sawyer, one of the nations leading science journalists. In this time when invented controversies associated with evolutionary biology are being promoted by those who want to change the way science is taught in schools, anyone who wants a real lesson into critical thinking and the nature of scientific discovery could benefit from reading this book."
—Lawrence M. Krauss, physicist and author of The Physics of Star Trek, Atom, and Hiding in the Mirror

“Most of the action in this unique story takes place in a tiny, submicroscopic world, but that hardly diminishes the drama as world-renowned scientists stake out their positions in an arena a fraction the size of a pinhead. Sawyer does a laudable job of translating the deeply nuanced science at work here into everyday language. No matter what the ultimate verdict on ALH84001 (the Mars rock's NASA ID number), its discovery has already improved our understanding of early life on Earth and provided important new tools in our continued search for life on Mars.”
—Kirkus Review

"Space science and technology writer Kathy Sawyer brings to life a real-life epic tale of the exhilaration, awe and jealousy felt by those who wished to possess the ring... err, rock..."
—Science a Go Go

“The Rock >From Mars [is] an engrossing tale of scientific research and controversy artfully woven together from strands of science, politics and human nature.”
—Jeffrey Marsh, The Washington Times

"It's a story ably told by Kathy Sawyer in The Rock From Mars . . . Of particular interest to many will be the details Sawyer provides about the machinations within NASA and the White House in the weeks leading up to the announcement, including then-NASA administrator Dan Goldin’s meetings on the subject with President Clinton and Vice President Gore.”
—Jeff Foust, The Space Review