Evolution: The First Four Billion Years

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Overview

Spanning evolutionary science from its inception to its latest findings, from discoveries and data to philosophy and history, this book is the most complete, authoritative, and inviting one-volume introduction to evolutionary biology available. Clear, informative, and comprehensive in scope, Evolution opens with a series of major essays dealing with the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology, with major empirical and theoretical questions in the science, from speciation to adaptation, from paleontology to evolutionary development (evo devo), and concluding with essays on the social and political significance of evolutionary biology today.

A second encyclopedic section travels the spectrum of topics in evolution with concise, informative, and accessible entries on individuals from ­Aristotle and Linneaus to Louis Leakey and Jean Lamarck; from T. H. Huxley and E. O. Wilson to Joseph Felsenstein and Motoo Kimura; and on subjects from altruism and amphibians to evolutionary psychology and Piltdown Man to the Scopes trial and social Darwinism. Readers will find the latest word on the history and philosophy of evolution, the nuances of the science itself, and the intricate interplay among evolutionary study, religion, philosophy, and ­society.

Appearing at the beginning of the Darwin Year of 2009—the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species—this volume is a fitting tribute to the science Darwin set in motion.

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Editorial Reviews

London Review of Books
Harvard's blockbuster contribution to the Darwin anniversary is a substantial work at almost a thousand pages.
Booklist (starred review) - Ray Olson
If ever there were an education in a book, there's one in this massive volume...What is most probably the commemorative par excellence of the Origin of Species sesquicentennial.
Wired - Zelda Roland
Half essay collection, half encyclopedia, it's packed with everything you'll ever want or need to know about the science of evolution.
Chronicle of Higher Education - Evan R. Goldstein
Evolution, which is slightly less than 1,000 pages long, covers almost every angle of its huge subject, from the perspective of science, religion, philosophy, and history.
Washington Times - James Srodes
Evolution: The First Four Billion Years is as equally inviting and particularly timely in this bicentennial year of the birth of Charles Darwin and the ever-bubbling controversy with advocates of a creationist explanation for the mysteries of biology...The 16 explaining essays, followed by the second encyclopedic section offer the reader an easily and enjoyable access to what the fuss is all about and why it is important to get one's own opinions based on reality. Life, after all, is too important.
Choice - D. A. Brass
More than 100 authors contribute to the rich variety of excellent articles in this highly commendable and scholarly volume. The authors explore in detail evidence supporting the role of natural selection and other forces driving evolutionary change, and consider myriad controversies and unresolved issues in evolutionary science. Illustrative examples are drawn from all levels of life on Earth. The book critically examines distinctions between microevolution--which even religious Fundamentalists generally do not dispute--and the far more contentious macroevolution. Contributors also address the influence of evolution on philosophy, sociology, and religion and provide an excellent discussion of American antievolutionism and the ongoing controversy of teaching evolution versus intelligent design/creationism in schools.
Library Journal

The "long argument" over Darwinian theory has spawned unending commentary, spilling out of the natural sciences into varied realms of the social sciences and humanities. Ruse and Travis (Florida State Univ.) have assembled a broad, engaging, and useful although somewhat disjointed compendium intended to represent the entirety of that literature in a single volume. The first part contains 16 substantive, semischolarly essays on overarching topics, such as "The Origin of Life," "Paleontology and the History of Life," "Evolution and Society," and "Evolution and Religion." The book's second part contains what essentially amounts to an alphabetical encyclopedia of evolution, containing shorter essays on more focused subjects. Either part could stand alone and maybe should, because not all readers will find natural linkages from one to others.


—Gregg Sapp
Washington Times

Evolution: The First Four Billion Years is as equally inviting and particularly timely in this bicentennial year of the birth of Charles Darwin and the ever-bubbling controversy with advocates of a creationist explanation for the mysteries of biology...The 16 explaining essays, followed by the second encyclopedic section offer the reader an easily and enjoyable access to what the fuss is all about and why it is important to get one's own opinions based on reality. Life, after all, is too important.
— James Srodes

Choice

More than 100 authors contribute to the rich variety of excellent articles in this highly commendable and scholarly volume. The authors explore in detail evidence supporting the role of natural selection and other forces driving evolutionary change, and consider myriad controversies and unresolved issues in evolutionary science. Illustrative examples are drawn from all levels of life on Earth. The book critically examines distinctions between microevolution—which even religious Fundamentalists generally do not dispute—and the far more contentious macroevolution. Contributors also address the influence of evolution on philosophy, sociology, and religion and provide an excellent discussion of American antievolutionism and the ongoing controversy of teaching evolution versus intelligent design/creationism in schools.
— D. A. Brass

Booklist (starred review)

If ever there were an education in a book, there's one in this massive volume...What is most probably the commemorative par excellence of the Origin of Species sesquicentennial.
— Ray Olson

Wired

Half essay collection, half encyclopedia, it's packed with everything you'll ever want or need to know about the science of evolution.
— Zelda Roland

Chronicle of Higher Education

Evolution, which is slightly less than 1,000 pages long, covers almost every angle of its huge subject, from the perspective of science, religion, philosophy, and history.
— Evan R. Goldstein

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674031753
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 1008
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 2.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Florida State University. He is the founder and editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy, and has appeared on “Quirks and Quarks” and the Discovery Channel.

Joseph Travis is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Biological Science at Florida State University.

Edward O. Wilson is Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University. In addition to two Pulitzer Prizes (one of which he shares with Bert Hölldobler), Wilson has won many scientific awards, including the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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Table of Contents

  • Foreword

    Edward O. Wilson

  • Introduction

    Michael Ruse and Joseph Travis

  • The History of Evolutionary Thought

    Michael Ruse

  • The Origin of Life

    Jeffrey L. Bada and Antonio Lazcano

  • Paleontology and the History of Life

    Michael Benton

  • Adaptation

    Joseph Travis and David Reznick

  • Molecular Evolution

    Francisco J. Ayala

  • Evolution of the Genome

    Brian Charlesworth and Deborah Charlesworth

  • The Pattern and Process of Speciation

    Margaret B. Ptacek and Shala J. Hankison

  • Evolution and Development

    Gregory A. Wray

  • Social Behavior and Sociobiology

    Daniel I. Rubenstein

  • Human Evolution

    Henry M. McHenry

  • Evolutionary Biology of Disease

    Michael F. Antolin and Darwinian Medicine

  • Beyond the Darwinian Paradigm: Understanding Biological Forms

    Brian Goodwin

  • Philosophy of Evolutionary Thought

    Kim Sterelny

  • Evolution and Society

    Manfred D. Laubichler and Jane Maienschein

  • American Antievolutionism: Retrospect and Prospect

    Eugenie C. Scott

  • Alphabetical Guide
  • Contributors
  • Index

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