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Gould: Wonderful Life - the Burgess Shale & the Nature of History (Cloth): The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History Hardcover – 22 Nov 1989


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition edition (22 Nov. 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393027058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393027051
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 0.3 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,148,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Gould at his best... The message of history is superbly conveyed... Recommended reading for scientists and nonscientists of all persuasions." -- Walter C. Sweet "Luminous... Filled with profound and upsetting ideas like the Burgess Shale itself and just as solid. It is surely one of nature's best stories, told with a light touch by a master of the field." -- Lewis Thomas, M.D. "There is no question about the historical importance of the Burgess Shale, and Gould is right when he says that it deserves a place in the public consciousness along with big bangs and black holes... A compelling story, told with characteristic verve." -- Richard A. Fortey

About the Author

Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University. He published over twenty books, received the National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
Not since the Lord himself showed his stuff to Ezekiel in the valley of dry bones had anyone brought such grace and skill to the reconstruction of animals from disarticulated skeletons. 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

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Half Man, Half Book on 21 Jun. 2013
Format: Paperback
This is a book primarily about the abundance of life in that had been preserved in fossils in the Burgess shale.

Gould writes about the people who spent hour after painstaking hour examining the samples, deciphering the forms and understanding the compressed fossils in this rock formation. In the second part of the book he writes about Walcott, administrator at the Smithsonian institute until he died, and his error in the analysis in the samples. He then considers the what if questions that evolution throws up, in the final part.

I found the writing style to be quite dry and technical. Understandable to a certain extent given the subject matter, but my feeling is with science writers is that they should make the subject that they are writing about come alive, and this book didn't do it for me. The part on Walcott was good, he was a man who had a lot of influence and authority in the scientific advances in America, but he suffered some fundamental flaws.

This was written 20 or so years ago now, and in its time would have been a seminal work; now it is still important, but understanding of the creatures in the Burgess shale are now better understood and technology can bring them to life in ways that Gould could have never of considered.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fine, well written account of a rigorous investigation, exploration and reinterpretation of the 3-dimensional structures of Cambrian fauna and ecology. An enlightened perspective, which dispels several paleontologica myths. The writing has many delightful touches, such as describing the first known examples of cannibalism, analogies involving Sylvester, the cartoon cat and steam rollers, the use of passive verbs in monographs and finally, the comparison of logical versus psychological. A quality read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent book if this is your thing. Reminds me a bit of the Piltdown controversy though there was no intent to deceive here!!
A bit wordy and the illustrations are not very good (perhaps only in this cheap edition?) but very interesting - a classic in its genre.
Purchase achieved with the usual Amazon speed and efficiency.
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