River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

by Richard Dawkins, Lalla Ward
     
 
How did the replication bomb we call "Life" begin and where in the world or rather, in the universe, is it heading? Writing with characteristic wit and an ability to clarify complex phenomena (the The New York Times described his style as "the sort of science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius"), Richard Dawkins confronts the

Overview

How did the replication bomb we call "Life" begin and where in the world or rather, in the universe, is it heading? Writing with characteristic wit and an ability to clarify complex phenomena (the The New York Times described his style as "the sort of science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius"), Richard Dawkins confronts the ancient mystery. "Dawkins is above all a masterly expositor, a writer who understands the issues so clearly that he forces his readers to understand them too. River Out of Eden displays these virtues to the full." --New York Times Book Review "Dawkins has gone to the heart of his subject and presented it with energy, insight, verve." —Los Angeles Times "[River Out of Eden] abounds with metaphors that make things brilliantly clear....an excellent introduction to many important evolutionary ideas." —Nature

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) pictures evolution as a vast river of DNA-coded information flowing over millennia and splitting into three billion branches, of which 30 million branches-today's extant species-survive. Emphasizing that the genetic code is uncannily computer-like, comprising long strings of digital information, the eminent Oxford evolutionary biologist surmises that we are "survival machines" programmed to propagate the database we carry. From his perspective, nature is not cruel-only indifferent-and the goal of a presumed Divine Engineer is maximizing DNA survival. Dawkins cautiously endorses the controversial "African Eve" theory, according to which the most recent common ancestor of all modern humans probably lived in Africa fewer than 250,000 years ago. The author's narrative masterfully deals with controversies in evolutionary biology.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) pictures evolution as a vast river of DNA-coded information flowing over millennia and splitting into three billion branches, of which 30 million branches-today's extant species-survive. Emphasizing that the genetic code is uncannily computer-like, comprising long strings of digital information, the eminent Oxford evolutionary biologist surmises that we are ``survival machines'' programmed to propagate the database we carry. From his perspective, nature is not cruel-only indifferent-and the goal of a presumed Divine Engineer is maximizing DNA survival. Dawkins cautiously endorses the controversial ``African Eve'' theory, according to which the most recent common ancestor of all modern humans probably lived in Africa fewer than 250,000 years ago. The author's narrative masterfully deals with controversies in evolutionary biology. Natural Science Book Club dual main selection; Library of Science alternate. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Dawkins continues discussion of the evolutionary themes introduced in his previous popular works, The Selfish Gene (LJ 12/1/76) and The Blind Watchmaker (LJ 2/1/87). Using the concept of a digital river of DNA, he explores the evolution of humans from a single ancestor; evolutions of specific organs (e.g., eyes) and coadaptation of species (e.g., wasps and orchids); nature's physical and behavioral mechanisms to maximize survival of DNA; and, finally, the ultimate results when our DNA reaches out into space. His arguments and examples are clear, compelling, and often amusing. Offering alternative and potentially controversial views of nature and its evolutionary processes, Dawkins's book is an enjoyable read, written in terms understandable to nonspecialists but with nuances appealing to more specialized readers. Recommended for academic and larger public science collections.-Jeanne Davidson, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis
Gilbert Taylor
The newest volume in the new Science Masters series condenses the subject of inherited genes for readers wanting maximum absorption in a single sitting. As with fellow authors in the series, British biologist Dawkins brings the success of a popular science work ("The Selfish Gene", 1989) to the goal of introducing the curious to his specialty, evolution. Dawkins' lecture-like text stakes out firm beliefs in gradualism, rather than variants of "creationism," as the motive force in biological change. To a clerical letter-writer who divines divine design in wasp behavior (and by extension, in the intricate structure of life), Dawkins playfully opposes perfectly natural reasons for bee dances. Another chapter attacks the common notion of purposefulness in any biological process--except for DNA's primal drive to self-replicate. The work is crammed with illustrative examples of Dawkins' conceptions; and although it can get ruthlessly grim, the playful exposition earns Dawkins a place on the biology shelves, again.
Booknews
Dawkins (Oxford U.) explains evolution as a flowing river of genes meeting, uniting, and sometimes separating to form new species. He argues that gradualism is the motive force in biological change, not creationism, and discusses sex ratios, evolution and selection of complex structures, and our earliest human ancestors. Includes b&w drawings. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780465016068
Publisher:
Basic Books
Publication date:
02/28/1995
Series:
Science Masters Series
Pages:
172

Meet the Author


Richard Dawkins is the first holder of Oxford University’s newly endowed Charles Simonyi Professorship in the Public Understanding of Science. He is the author of two acclaimed bestsellers, The Blind Watchmaker, which won both the Royal Society of Literature Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science, and the even better known The Selfish Gene.

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