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Evolution: Making Sense of Life Paperback – 1 Oct 2012

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product details

  • Paperback: 720 pages
  • Publisher: Roberts & Company Publishers (1 Oct. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936221365
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936221363
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 2.5 x 27.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 395,722 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

About the Author

The New York Times Book Review calls Carl Zimmer as fine a science essayist as we have. Zimmer is the author of ten books, including Parasite Rex, which the Los Angeles Times called a book capable of changing how we see the world, and Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, which Scientific American described as as fine a book as one will find on the subject. His 2009 textbook The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution, was named by Choice as an outstanding academic title of the year. Edward O. Wilson praised the book, saying, The Tangled Bank is the best written and best illustrated introduction to evolution of the Darwin centennial decade, and also the most conversant with ongoing research. It is excellent for students, the general public, and even other biologists. In addition to books, Zimmer also writes articles for the New York Times and magazines such as National Geographic, Scientific American, and Discover, where he is a contributing editor. His journalism has earned him numerous awards; he has won the National Academies Science Communication Award, and he is a two-time winner of the American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award. He lectures regularly at universities and museums and is a frequent guest on radio programs such as This American Life, and RadioLab. Douglas J. Emlen is a professor at the University of Montana, where he conducts research on the evolution of animal development. After earning his Ph.D. at Princeton, he spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at Duke University before coming to Montana. Emlen s research has earned him the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering from the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House, multiple research awards from the National Science Foundation, including their five-year CAREER award, and a Young Investigator Prize by the American Society of Naturalists. Emlen s research has been featured in outlets including The New York Times and National Public Radio s Fresh Air. His book, Animal Weapons: The Stories Behind Nature's Most Extravagant Structures, will be published by Henry Holt in 2013. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
perfect for the studies being undertaken.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have read numerous text books on evolution but this is probably one of the best. The clear, concise text is lovely - it seems like the contributors have really put the effort in to ensure that the material is easily accesible. This is addtionally assisted by the numerous coloured and detailed diagrams (i.e. one good picture speaks a thousand words).

I'm not a biologist, but I have gained a deep and better understanding of evolution from this book.

This is a 'must' for any person studying biology or more to the fact, anybody having a passing interest in evolution and willing to take the necessary steps to understand in greater detail. Well done to the authors.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
That rare thing, a textbook one can read for pleasure. Overall narrative as well constructed as a first-rate novel, and the whole approach based on current scientific practice (e.g. radiometric dating approached through isochrons) without sacrificing either rigour or readability.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Helped me to no end with my evolution lecture revision! Thank you so much!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.0 out of 5 stars 35 reviews
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Current but balanced; beautifully illustrated; technical detail with strong story lines 11 Nov. 2012
By Thomas J. Haslam - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This work is intended as a college textbook, and so perhaps not the best choice for a general audience. For readers primarily looking for a highly credible, accessible, and well-written overview of evolutionary theory, I'd recommend Zimmer's earlier Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea or his The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution. Likewise, if you're not sure why evolutionary theory is established and respected science, and so you want the case against the "controversy," I would bump Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True to the top of the list.

As a college textbook, however, Evolution: Making Sense of Life succeeds wonderfully in the following aspects.

The science it presents is both current and balanced. Recent work - and controversies - in the field are covered. But the text makes clear what has been widely accepted as valid science. What is new and promising, and seems well on its way to becoming valid, established science. And what is currently speculative or highly contentious. Both Douglas J. Emlen, the scientist, and Carl Zimmer, the science writer, do their best to avoid bias. And unlike too much of popular science writing, Evolution: Making Sense of Life is free of rant, polemic, and grandiose speculation.

The text is beautifully and extensively illustrated. The graphical representations of data and processes actually make sense. Colorful, accessible, coherent. The other images - including numerous photos - have been carefully chosen for content and context. And many of images are simply beautiful. For the visual display of information alone, this text is a winner.

The writing itself seems to me about as good as one gets for a college textbook. The authors use story-lines to introduce key concepts and developments. Their examples are well-chosen. Once the first two chapters are cleared, "The Virus and Whale: How Scientists Study Evolution" and "Biology: From Natural Philosophy to Darwin", the authors begin introducing more technical information and detail. This doesn't become a problem, however, because in each chapter the general concepts and context are established first. Likewise, the overall organization of the book is well thought-out and executed. All in all, a solid testimony to Zimmer's exemplary skill as a science writer - as well as no doubt Emlen's own considerable abilities to organize and present information. (I know Zimmer's work; Emlen is new to me).

Because I found Evolution: Making Sense of Life so well done in both the details and overall, I'm hoping it becomes a standard text for undergraduates - and perhaps even advanced high school students.

If you're someone who enjoys science writing, and perhaps have already read Zimmer's other work, Coyne's book, that of Dawkins, Shubin, Carroll, and others, you might want to consider adding Evolution: Making Sense of Life to your personal library anyway - the price being the primary objection. Unlike many popular science explanations of evolutionary theory, Zimmer and Emlen here provide a comprehensive general overview while avoiding taking sides in current debates, or making grandiose claims beyond what the current science supports. It's also always good to know some of basic quantitative thinking involved with evolutionary theory, including the basic models for population genetics. Here Zimmer and Emlen do a great job in translating the mathematical logic - daunting for many people - into more familiar concepts.

Bottom line: Evolution: Making Sense of Life is both a pleasure to read and look at, and may well set the new standard for a introductory college textbook in evolutionary biology.
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever 18 Aug. 2016
By D. Cheung - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am grateful and thankful Professor Lahti switches to this textbook (2012) in this semester (Fall 2016). I was reading the other textbook which is also nice but not as enjoyable as this one. The truth is that the subject of evolution is not an easy task for an ESL, especially someone has ADD. And yet authors put so much effort on using simple English and ample of examples to illustrate the mathematical models (in boxes) which I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Although some of the chapters I have to reread two to three times or spend days to grab the ideas, I do learn many statistical models and genetic concepts which I only have some basic knowledge. One thing I have to mention. It seems like authors really like fry. Whenever he mentions about fishes, he is always talking about fry which make me very hungry :)

BTW, make sure if you purchase a second handbook don't choose Amazon Marketplace, there is a 6 to 7 inches cut on the back of the book. I wrote them feedback of it, they have no response whatsoever.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Evo Book! 1 Nov. 2015
By Eric Fu - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book has served me well for studying for my evolution class! Bought it used and is in fantastic condition! Overall a great book and much cheaper than the second edition, but with most of the content!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution, making sense of life has been an interesting advernture from the beginning to the end. 5 Mar. 2014
By Carlos Garcia - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have bought this book last year as a requirement for a graduate level evolution class and this book has been one of the most interesting books I have read. It gives clear illustrations, and explains science at work when it comes to discoveries of evolution. Another perk to this text book were the boxes that answered questions and had advice for skeptical people and critics of evolution.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. Even people who want to just learn a little bit more on evolution. It is an easy read, and I can enjoy reading chapter after chapter. You don't get that in most text books.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good textbook 28 Sept. 2014
By Bach - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Really simple book to read and refer back too. It helped me clarify any misunderstandings or gaps in my evolution lecture notes. It helps that the text isn't dense like many other textbooks and the way the authors write is actually engaging.
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