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Darwin's Ghost: the Origin of Species Updated Hardcover – 1 Jul 2000

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; 1 edition (1 July 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375501037
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375501036
  • Product Dimensions: 24.1 x 16.3 x 3.4 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 905,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Steve Jones is Professor of Genetics at University College London and the president of the Galton Institute. He delivered the BBC Reith Lectures in 1991, appears frequently on radio and television and is a regular columnist for the Daily Telegraph. His previous books include The Language of the Genes, Almost Like a Whale, Y: The Descent of Man and, most recently, Coral.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Biologists have a dirty little secret: While practically everyone knows of The Origin of Species (and owes much to it), almost nobody has read it. Geneticist Steve Jones wants to make the arguments contained in that great text accessible to modern audiences, and succeeds with the delightful Darwin's Ghost. Approximating the structure of Darwin's opus, Jones uses the original chapter headings and summaries as a scaffolding to build an up-to-date demonstration of the power of a few simple ideas. Heredity, variation, and natural selection are all you need to infer evolution over time, and now that Jones can fill in the gaps in Darwin's pre-Mendelian understanding of genetics, the case becomes airtight.

More than a polemic, though, Darwin's Ghost is nearly as pleasurable a read as its ancestor--one suspects that part of Jones' mission is to inspire today's readers to turn back to the grand but humble Origin of Species. While he may not be able to quite match Darwin's vast erudition or hawk's eye for detail, he still makes the theory of evolution shudder and breathe on the page. Dog breeding, mass extinctions, and weird fossils of tiny elephants all march to his drumbeat and--just when you least expect it--return to the main point that all living things share a common ancestor. Whether you're one of the elite who's had the pleasure of Darwin's literary company or you'd like a taste of what you're missing, Darwin's Ghost will bring the spirit of the great man back into your world of ideas.--Rob Lightner

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 30 reviews
37 of 37 people found the following review helpful
The New/Old Science 23 May 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Regardless of your interest in or knowledge of science, Jones' work is captivating. Equally important, for the general reader, it is not hard work. Using modern scientific advances including work on diseases (such as AIDS and sickle cell anemia), primate research and genetics, Jones sets out to prove Darwin's theory of "descent by modification" all over again. He succeeds both in supporting Darwin's theory and holding the reader's interest with a sharp writing style and a gift for applying useful analogies and metaphors that make his subject accessible. Some of Jones' sidebar comments will make you laugh out loud and some of his more profound conclusions will have you thinking about and recommending this book long after you have finished it.
42 of 45 people found the following review helpful
Not just for science buffs 24 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I picked this up because of the great NY Times Book Review review--I'm not a science buff in particular, but it just sounded like a good, intelligent read. Just want to say how glad I am I took the plunge, because this book is so wide-ranging, it's about everything. It's fantastic--I've never read anything quite like it. Animals, life, AIDS, history, geography, God--you name it, Jones talks about it, and he weaves it all together into an incredibly readable book. So here's from one satisfied reader--I couldn't recommend this book more.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Evoution Made Understandable for the Nonscientist 13 Feb 2001
By Mark Evans - Published on
Format: Hardcover
The last serious book I read on evolution was Darwin's Origin of Species, which I read as a requirement for a History of Science course in college. I wish had first read Darwin's Ghost. This book completely rekindled my scientific interest in evolution. Jones follows the structure of the original, but updates it with more than a century's worth of scientific progress. For example, the question of why we can't actually observe evolution in progress is answered through modern examples such as HIV. But more importantly, Jones has made The Origin of Species readable for the common man. Darwin's Ghost is enjoyable, relative easy to comprehend, and most importantly, after you have read it you actually understand and retain much of the current evidence that supports modern evolutionary theory. I would recommend this book for those who consider themselves either "evolutionists" or "creationists", because without understanding the scientific evidence for evolution it is impossible to either defend or attack evolution. Far too much of the popular press coverage of evolution occurs in a vacuum of understanding (on both sides). For the diehard evolutionist, this book will certainly pale in comparison to the original. But for the vast majority of people, who will never read The Origin of Species, I would highly recommend this book. You may even find your intellectual curiosity piqued sufficiently to delve further into the field.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant and poetic, it's Darwin for Dummies 28 July 2000
By Eric Breitenstein - Published on
Format: Hardcover
"Darwin's Ghost" by Steve Jones, a professor of Genetics at Univesity College London, is the best statement of the theory of evolution I've read. Jones reweaves Darwin's "One Long Arguement" into a format that's easy to understand for non-biologists and lay people. He uses the new science of genetics and examples from DNA evidence to demonstrate the proof of evolution: It's in the genes!
From the evolution of HIV into a species that attacks humans, to that virus splitting off into two species, HIV-1 and HIV-2, each species genetically modified to different human populations, to the constant evolutionary change of HIV-1 and -2 as we fight back with anti-viral drugs. Natural Selection never stops. Thanks to the drugs we use against HIV (and bacteriological infections), we can see evolution in action, which creationists used to get away with claiming was impossible. Jones makes us aware of that simple proof: Once again, it's in the genes.
Professor Jones has written a modern version of "The Origin of Species," and Jones' work is easier to understand (for most people) than Darwin's texts. This book is a must for people who want to understand evolution, which is nothing more than descent with modification due to Natural Selection.
Simple, eloquent proof: "Darwin's Ghost." Thank you Steve Jones.
31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
Want to know why Evolution is no longer considered a theory? 21 Sep 2000
By Robert Wormley - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is the simply the most readable and convincing, modern argument for evolution. Steve Jones comes down to the level of laity and explains genetics, descent with modification, Darwin's development of his theory, paleobotany and transitional forms in language that is enjoyable to read. If like me, you are intimidated by trying to understand the latest research in these highly specialized fields yet you yearn to understand the implications of their findings for your worldview, then this is the best book that I could recommend. I came into it highly skeptical of evolution as a verifiable theory and came out of it wondering how I can accomidate it into my Christian faith. A word of caution to any creationists who read this book with an open mind. Like me it will transform you into a very uncomfortable agreement with it.
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