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Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea [Paperback]

Carl Zimmer , Stephen Jay Gould
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct 2002
"Darwin would have loved this book" --Steve Jones The theory of evolution stands over modern biology as quantum mechanics and relativity do over modern physics. And few modern scientists are as widely familiar and celebrated as Darwin. Yet most of us remain less than entirely clear as to how evolution by natural selection works and a series of celebrated titles by such writers as Steven Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins do little to help, being each so partisan of a particular, contentious, view of the subject. Carl Zimmer draws together the entire history of the subject, from Darwin's original insights on the voyage of the Beagle, through the "modern synthesis", which combined genetics with natural selection, to the Darwinian medicine and the "selfish gene" debates of today.There is no comparably balanced and wide-ranging book available at present, let alone one that is as well and accessibly written. For all of us who lack a comfortable familiarity with this most influential of scientific ideas, an idea that has as many implications for our understanding of child-rearing, AIDS and the fate of the rain-forest as it does for the "origin of species", this is an ideal introduction.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Perennial; Reprint edition (Oct 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060958502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060958503
  • Product Dimensions: 24.8 x 18.8 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,872,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

While there are countless books on evolution, there are few that have quite the combination of interest for the general reader provided by American science writer Carl Zimmer's Evolution. From the historical genesis of Darwin's idea, born and bred aboard the Beagle and the subsequent furore after its publication in 1859, Zimmer brings us right up to date with an overview of the status of the Darwin/Wallace theory today. Darwin promised his readers "a grandeur in this view of life" and, as Zimmer very ably shows, life now displays far more grandeur than even Darwin appreciated. Zimmer is ideally qualified to do this as he was a senior editor at Discover magazine where he saw much of the new science developing before his eyes. He is also a well-known author of some very successful popular science books such as At the Water's Edge and more recently Parasite Rex. The bare factual bones of the science are deftly interlaced with stories of the individual scientists and their discoveries which normally are hidden from view. Zimmer takes us expertly from the origin of life and its prehistoric evolution as evidenced by fossils, through the genetic evidence and evolution of sex to the question of primate evolution and the problems this still raises for religious fundamentalists. Beautifully illustrated with photos, diagrams and artwork, and supported with an extensive further reading list and index, Evolution is part of a bigger WGBH television and educational project but can stand alone on its own considerable merits. --Douglas Palmer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


'Written with crystal clarity, Zimmer uses a broad brush to sweep us through the length and breadth of evolution.' -- Tim Birkhead BBC Wildlife Magazine

Darwin would have loved it: and anyone who wants to know why life is the way it is need look no further.’ -- Steve Jones

The evolution of life over four billion years is a grand narrative, full of plots, intrigues, surprises and deaths.’ -- Matt Ridley

‘Do we need more books about Darwin? Yes, we do, but only if they are as good as Zimmer's Evolution.' -- New Scientist

‘This brilliant book is a virtual Voyage of the Beagle! Carl Zimmer shows how right Darwin was...' -- Steve Jones --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
A famous legend (perhaps even true) from the early days of Darwinism pro a good organizing theme for understanding the centrality and important of evolution both in science and for human life in general. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended 8 Sep 2003
It is written in a very readable style that covers evolution from the beginnings of life on earth through to human evolution with chapters devoted also to Darwin and the discovery of evolution. The story of evolution is fascinatingly told with explanations of the parts played by extinctions, mutations, natural selection etc. The many vignettes and examples of evolutionary history and complex design in the animal kingdom are amazing and will make you marvel at the miraclulousness of life on Earth.
Although it was produced in tandem with a television series, this book easily stands alone as being excellent in its own right.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read. 17 Sep 2008
By John
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book, especially the hardback version is well written and very very interesting. I read a lot of scientific books and this is one of my favourites. The hardback is packed with really good images. Anyway I thoroughly recommend it, its simple enough for begginers to the subject and so well written even post grads will find it interesting.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and informative - easy to read 20 May 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a very readable summary of our current knowledge of evolution which is accessible without in the least being patronising. I'm a little disappointed that science undergraduates think this might be a textbook - but that is more a reflection on the unchallenging nature of some university education than this book.

This is excellent for the general reader - and for students of other disciplines that need some general understanding of the concepts of evolution and the enormous and compelling body of evidence that supports them.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and wonderful 7 Aug 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The hardcover version of this book is gorgeous, full of glossy pages and fabulous photographs. But this is no mere table top publication, light on content. The chapters cover:

Darwin's voyage on the Beagle
The background to his publication of Origin of Species
A timeline of the development of life on Earth over 4 billion years
The biological ways in which natural selection works
The tree of life, from bacteria to humans
The ways in which natural selection is limited by the need to build on pre-existing forms
Mass extinctions over the life of the Earth
Co-evolution, and the arms race between predators and prey
The relevance of evolution to medicine, including HIV
The impact of natural selection of sexual behaviours
The impact of social practices on human evolution
The development of homo sapiens and the neanderthals
A critique of creationism and intelligent design

It is therefore comprehensive and extremely well written, easily accessible to the general reader with an interest in biology. The treatment of controversial areas such as evolutionary psychology and creationism is very even handed. Simply the best book on the subject for the non-specialist reader.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dawkins for beginners 11 Aug 2005
By Steven
This would have been a five star book if clarity had been the only consideration. If you a new student of any biological science this is the perfect introductory text. Zimmer explains complex processes in such a simple way yu feel stupid for ever being confused. but, content too has to bejudged and while there's nothing wrong with whats in here, it just isn't quite up to Dawkins 'The Selfish Gene' which is basically the same text but with a little more detail and much more baffaling language (well, if your not used to the concepts...its easy now). i say if your a first year student, read Zimmer, then go on to dawkins to make sure you get the nuts and bolts to add detail to the concepts.
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