Compared to the well-established disciplines, the field of Earth system science/global change has relatively few books from which to choose. Of the small subset of books dealing specifically with biogeochemical aspects of global change, the first edition of Schlesinger's Biogeochemistry in 1991 was an early entry. It has since gained sufficient popularity and demand to merit a second, extensively revised edition.

The first part of the book provides a general introduction to biogeochemistry and cycles, and to the origin of elements, our planet, and life on Earth. It then describes the functioning and biogeochemistry of the atmosphere, lithosphere, biosphere, and hydrosphere, including marine and freshwater systems. Although system function and features are stressed, the author begins to introduce global change topics, such as soil organic matter and global change in Chapter 5, and landscape and mass balance in Chapter 6.