A Guinea Pig's History of Biology Hardcover – 24 May 2007
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'Accessible and engaging' -- The Guardian
'Fascinating' -- Daily Telegraph
'Highly entertaining and original ... A new perspective on the history of genetics.' -- The Sunday Times
A Guinea Pig's History of Biology is a fascinatingly different
take on the history of evolution, showing how science developed as a
complex and fruitful interaction between individuals and the scientific
world. As entertaining as it is enlightening. -- Judith Flanders, author of Consuming Passions: Leisure and Pleasure in Victorian Britain
In this astute, charming and witty book, Jim Endersby follows the
careers of passionflowers and fruit flies, mice and fish and helps
overthrow a host of myths that have beset the history of biology. He
brings uncommon enthusiasm and infectious passion to his accounts of
gardeners and travellers, farmers and priests. He shares his joy at gazing
through microscopes at zebrafish, offers indispensable information about
the roots of genetic modification and vivisection and concludes with a
superbly judged exploration of the significance of campaigns around
biotechnology and eugenics. This book will become a vital resource for
anyone who cares about where our biological knowledge came from and why it
matters so much to our future.
-- Simon Schaffer, Professor of History of Science, University of Cambridge Simon Schaffer, Professor of History of Science, University of Cambridge
Jim Endersby's book is packed with strange lore about the
creatures that live in laboratories, but it is no mere miscellany. He has
hit upon the bright idea of telling the story of reproduction, inheritance
and evolution - and how we learnt about them, by focusing on a handful of
creatures that have provided most of our knowledge: the fruit fly, the
zebrafish, the bacteriophage, Darwin's passion flowers, maize, the evening
primrose, the cress plant Arabidopsis and a few others. Oh, and not
forgetting Homo sapiens. Endersby's technique is a wonderfully roundabout
way of telling some of the great stories of modern biology.'
-- Peter Forbes, DAILY MAIL (18.5.07)
`Jim Endersby's book is packed with strange lore about the creatures that live in laboratories .... He has hit upon the bright idea of telling the story of reproduction, inheritance and evolution - and how we learnt about them ... Endersby's technique is a wonderfully roundabout way of telling some of the great stories of modern biology.' -- Daily Mail
`TRY to skim this book and you'll find yourself drawn into reading
every word. Eye-opening and entertaining, this is cutting-edge history of
science that everyone should read. Discover why Charles Darwin puzzled over
passion flowers, and how the most unlikely of experimental organisms - from
guinea pigs to an unprepossessing cress plant - contributed to what are now
hailed as landmark discoveries, as well as leading to a lot of dead
ends.Throughout his gripping narrative, Jim Endersby shows how today's
right answer is almost always tomorrow's wrong one.' -- Gail Vines, NEW SCIENTIST
`Try to skim this book and you'll find yourself drawn into reading every word. Eye-opening and entertaining, this is cutting-edge history of science that everyone should read ... Throughout his gripping narrative, Jim Endersby shows how today's right answer is almost always tomorrow's wrong one.' -- New Scientist
From the Publisher
One of the great untold scientific stories; the history of modern biology through the animals and plants that made it happen.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Certainly recommended to anyone interested in biology and the history around the major biological theories and figures.
I picked up this book from the library's "New Arrivals Display shelf" 2 weeks ago. I took it upon myself, as a personal challenge, that I should finally read a book on biology from cover to cover.
I was pleasantly surprised. The book is very well organized. Although each chapter effectively tells an independent story (history), the author has been successful in his intent to convince the reader that one good story will always lead to another. This he does by bringing forth one interesting central character in each chapter, and always in the form of an unseeming living thing (i.e. fruit fly, weed, zebra fish, guinea pig). Incidentally, each of them played an important role in the advancement of biological science. And the wonderful thing is that all these stories (trials and errors, failed experiments, ludicrous assumptions) lead us to where we are today, in terms of our scientific understanding of life and living beings.
Having previously read an article on the human genome that I can only claim I understand less than 10% of it, I'm glad this book gave me a slightly better appreciation of this same topic. One bonus is definitely that it will help me put together better words / stories to explain to my 9 year old how the science of life came about.