“A lovely mixture of bizarre facts, nice arguments, clever insights into the workings of evolution and a quality of writing that can make your skin prickle.. . . Gould has given us a feast.”
“Like the master, Darwin, [Gould] has a gift for metaphor—for finding striking analogies that highlight the organizing principles behind Nature.”
New York Times Book Review
“Few writers of popular science have given more pleasure to more readers than Stephen Jay Gould. . . . He packs a clout few science writers can match.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In his latest collection of essays originally published in Natural History magazine, paleontologist Gould examines diverse and diverting topics. The title piece refers to toes, and we learn that five is not necessarily the optimum number. Gould re-examines the work of astronomer Edmund Halley and 16th-century Irish Archbishop James Ussher, who pinpointed the moment of creation (Oct. 23, 4004 B.C.); Gould finds an ``invisible hand'' connecting William Paley, Charles Darwin and Adam Smith. His recollection of an incident in his childhood leads to a discussion of selective memory. Other topics are the extinction of land snails on Moorea, development of the tiny bones of the ear, romanticism about the past and Gould's own ecological ``Golden Rule'' for our planet. He writes about the threatened red squirrel of Arizona and the ``evolution'' of old tires into sandals. This collection, easily equal to The Panda's Thumb and Bully for Brontosaurus , will not disappoint Gould's fans. Illustrations. BOMC, QPB and History Book Club selections. (Jan.)
With expected wit, insight, and erudition, Harvard geopaleontologist Stephen Jay Gould ( Bully for Brontosaurus , LJ 5/15/91) has written 31 engaging essays on the disparate but related issues of time, change, and organic evolution. Gould critically explores a cascade of ideas that shed new light on ecology, human nature, vertebrate anatomy, neo-Darwinism, and mass extinctions; he even includes personal musings. Of special interest are the essays that deal with William Paley's natural theology, Archbishop James Ussher's biblical chronology, Miocene fossil apes, the Darwinian interpretation of life's struggle for existence, and a reexamination of the Cambrian onychophoran Hallucigenia . Gould respects the scientific quest but has disdain for human intolerance. His own model of organic evolution permeates these analyses (see Wonderful Life , LJ 9/1/89). Rich in thoughts and perspectives, Eight Little Piggies is recommended for all academic and public libraries. BOMC, Quality Paperback Book Club, and History Book Club selections.-- H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, N.Y.