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More than any other modern scientists, Stephen Jay Gould has opened up to millions the wonders of evolutionary biology. His genius as an essayist lies in his unmatched ability to use his knowledge of the world, including popular culture, to illuminate the realm of science.
Ever Since Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould's first book, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies. Like all succeeding collections by this unique writer, it brings the art of the scientific essay to unparalleled heights.
Reissued in a larger format, this popular anthology offers an introduction to the wonders and depths of evolutionary biology. "A remarkable achievement by any measure . . . One is hard pressed to single out past writers who could wear the sobriquet of natural history essayist with such distinction."--Chicago Tribune. Illustrations.
Posted December 17, 2003
Stephen Jay Gould grew up in New York City. He graduated from Antioch College and received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1967. Since then he has been Professor of Geology and Zoology at Harvard University. He considers himself primarily a paleontologist and an evolutionary biologist, though he teaches geology and history of science as well. This was the first book in a collection of 33 written for the 'Natural History Magazine'. He wrote this book because Darwinism is something he deeply appreciates and is more complex than the public generally know. He wanted to make clear to the public the truth about Darwinism. S. J. Gould is a good fan of Darwin's work. He finds Darwin's work very interesting and motivational. After extensively researching Darwin's theory of evolution Gould became shocked to learn of the many authors who had dismissed Darwin's theory after not reviewing all of his material. Gould, being a palaeontologist and a very enthusiastic biologist, took this as a challenge and used it as a means of taking his first steps to being a novelist with this wonderful book. His aim was to correct all the wrongly informed people with a vast array of facts and essay extracts he came across in his research. Gould has taken great care in writing this book, instead of sticking to the one subject he truly wants to get across he realises that this would become quite a drag for the average reader and they might loose interest. Because of this he has carefully placed additional information such as history of Darwin for example, why he started his great works off using the term 'decent with modification' instead of 'evolution', why he waited 21 years before even thinking about publishing his book, and how his ideas around this theory all began. He also included neighbouring theories and reasons why Darwin kept the inside lane with all the competition, and most interesting of all is the background information he has included. Everything he has written inspires deep thought about the subject and creates a new sense of intrigue over his work, for example, one of my favourite: 'If you had not heard of them, could you believe the blueprints of a giraffe, or the mechanisms of an ant?' He shows how evolution is not always good and on that note, the terrible fate of the Irish Elk, but denotes how evolution is almost always a good thing as it is an adaptation to the surrounding environment. He keeps referring back to Darwin's old essays and notes to give solid facts and proof which supports these points brought about by Darwin's theory of evolution. One can argue that no scientific theory has caused more controversies than Darwin's theory. Not to mention the history of the conflicts between religious beliefs and the evolutionary theory, many people today still have trouble accepting it, no matter how all the evidences appear to favor the theory. Gould's book has the strongest evidence available for this theory and by all rights it is now completely justified. This book is an outstanding example of Stephan Gould's work and I expect to see it sell many copies in the future. If it were not for the often occuring over-complex text in this book, i would see it as a 5-star piece of literature.
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Posted December 22, 2002
Posted April 16, 2001
This book was a refreshing break for a high school student that has burned out on textbook education. Although the concepts presented were not 'earth-shattering', so to speak, they were stimulating and well-argued, and, most importantly, restored my faith in evolutionary biology (thank you, Mrs. Funk). The essay-collection format of the book also kept me interested throughout, as it didn't exhaust one topic and didn't seem rushed. Most of all, this book was fun! It was intelligent, not too overbearing, and had a human touch not often quite as evident in other books of the genre. Any non-fiction book that can keep my attention for an hour while I'm on the stationary bike is definately worth reading, and has hooked me on Gould's writing (I am now avidly reading Wonderful Life). Read this book, for your own sake if not for the good of the world in general!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 13, 2010
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