The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

by Jonathan Weiner

Paperback(Reprint)

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780679733379
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/28/1995
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 98,326
Product dimensions: 7.96(w) x 5.14(h) x 0.74(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Weiner is one of the most distinguished popular-science writers in the country: his books have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Slate, Time, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Scientific American, Smithsonian, and many other newspapers and magazines, and he is a former editor at The Sciences. He is the author of The Beak of the Finch; Time, Love, Memory; Long for This World; His Brother's Keeper; The Next One Hundred Years; and Planet Earth. He lives in New York, where he teaches science writing at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism.

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Beak of the Finch 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a freshman in high school, my youth group at church began a discussion on evolution and creationism. Suddenly, I was worried. It seemed I could not be a Christian and believe in evolution. I spoke to my biology teacher and he offered his copy of 'The Beak of the Finch'. At first, I wondered if I was getting over my head, but I decided to read it and I sure am glad I did. It opened my mind up, learning of Darwin's predicament, and even his own reactions to his own findings, in a still heavily creationistic world. I recomend this to any one, who wants to learn more of evolution or just for a good read- however, it may not be for those who are uninterested in science.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have been assigned this book over my SPRING BREAK for my AP Bio class.... I read the first couple of chapters and its interesting in some way, but i wouldn't recommend it to people who are not interested in science...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I beg to differ with the folks who said this book was 'filled with statistics' or too scientifically-written. This is a good narrative about a scientific undertaking, and reading it as a scientist, I think it borderlines as a little too flaky in parts. Overall, I really enjoyed the read--it gave you all the gory details about how it must have felt to be Peter Grant working in the Galapagos Islands.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best popular science books ever written. It is also a beautiful piece of literature and deserved The Pulitzer Prize it received. Bravo to Jonathan Weiner!
Sandydog1 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This a very well-written, meaty book. Many examples of evolutionary change that happen, even over just a generation or two. Excellent and deserving of the Pulitzer.
bfertig on LibraryThing 5 months ago
One of the best forays into evolutionary biology. An excellent job at both explaining the process of evolution, changes that can be observed, and personalizing the experience by feeling like you get to know the researchers behind the science. Phenomenal science writing.
TheGreyCrane on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is one of the great works of modern biology up there with Richard Dawkins. And if I had a time machine this is the book I would take to show Darwin
isetziol on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This is one of the best books on evolution for people with no background in science that I¿ve read. Weiner, a science writer, illustrates Darwin¿s theory with examples from the work of contemporary biologists Peter and Rosemary Grant. A must-read if you¿re contemplating a Galapagos trip.
ccosner on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I had not imagined a book could be this eye-opening. It truly adds to one's understanding of how evolution works. Read _The Origin of Species_ first, or at least get a solid grounding in Darwin's ideas about natural selection and evolution.
yapete on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Good read. A bit slow in parts, but a nice example how thorough science works.
lorax on LibraryThing 5 months ago
It is said that God knows the fall of a sparrow, but Peter and Rosemary Grant know the fall of every finch on Daphne Major, a tiny uninhabited island in the Galapagos. For decades they have been conducting a meticulous study of "Darwin's finches", several closely related species of finches on the islands, and have conducted one of the very few studies tracking natural selection and evolution of vertebrates, or of any species in the field rather than in the lab. Every finch is banded and meticulously measured, and the change in various traits documented over the generations. It is impossible to read this book and not come away with an appreciation for the power of natural selection.One of the details I hadn't appreciated is that evolution isn't just slow because changes are tiny, but because most of the time there are a variety of selective pressures pushing in different directions. The Grants observed a measurable and statistically significant change in the average beak size of the finches in response to a single catastrophic drought; however, a few years later, a massive El Nino produced another measurable effect in the opposite direction. So evolution dithers around the current average conditions, but several drought years in a row -- perhaps the result of climate change, for instance -- could produce a measurable effect much more quickly than I imagined.This is engagingly written and well-aimed at the intelligent layperson who doesn't know the details of biology; it perhaps errs a bit on the side of caution (explaining the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria, for instance, which is pretty well-known and could probably have been assumed), but overall I recommend it highly.
bookcaterpillar on LibraryThing 5 months ago
One of the finest science books that I have read. Read this right before a trip to the Galapagos and am so glad that I did. You'll never look at a finch the same way again!
Jsaj on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A bit outdated as there has been a lot of new information on evolution since this book's publication, but it remains an excellent book about evolution and natural selection. In addition to clearly stating the evidence, Weiner presents a very interesting story of the researchers.
tkmarnell on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This was a compulsory text for my class on Evolution during my undergraduate days, but it stuck firmly in my mind years after I moved on to other fields. Weiner's writing has a journalistic tone, but flows well and kept me consistently interested. He takes the mysticism out of Darwin's Theory of Evolution, describing key modern efforts to research speciation and clarify his ideas centuries after the HMS Beagle landed on the shores of the Galapagos islands. My one gripe with the book is its slight political slant, with anecdotes from researchers about one-upping religious zealots and a final chapter characterizing the bulk of the American public as closed-minded. A more tolerant approach could have opened up the audience to that same public. Otherwise, I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants a clearer understanding of evolutionary theory without the bulky textbooks.
Stbalbach on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I asked someone what one book by, or about, Darwin would they recommend, and they gave this book. It explains Darwin's ideas very well along with the most recent findings and things even Darwin did not imagine how powerful and widespread evolution is. This book is so well written - on the level of literary masterpiece - it is on many school circulars. It will change the way you see nature as "infinitely more fluid, shifting, alive. It will seem like a different planet.." Indeed.
Cygnus555 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
If you have ever had any question about the reality of evolution, read this book. I walked away with a clear understanding that it is not a question of faith vs. evolution... evolution just is.
breeks on LibraryThing 9 months ago
A good scholarly book that explores those finches that have evolved in isolation from similar species and which set in motion the evolutionary thinking of Charles Darwin after his visit to the Galapagos Islands.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
i had to read this book for my apes course, and i fell asleep reading it. it may be filled with lots of factual, interesting points, but it presents them in a highly scientific, and overall boring manner. if it was less scientific without the extreme details, it would be a much better book.