- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Profile Books; Main edition (7 Jan. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1861978189
- ISBN-13: 978-1861978189
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2 x 23.4 cm
- Average Customer Review: 78 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 16,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution Paperback – 7 Jan 2010
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This is a science book that doesn't cheat: the structure is logical, the writing is witty, and the hard questions are tackled head on (Tim Radford Guardian)
Original and awe-inspiring ... an exhilarating tour of some of the most profound and important ideas in biology (Michael Le Page New Scientist)
Excellent and imaginative and, similar to life itself, the book is full of surprises ... a fascinating book for anyone interested in life and evolution, and how these discoveries were made (Nature)
Life Ascending earns its place on the bookshelf of every biology teacher - and anyone else interested in how we all got here. (James Kingsland Guardian)
an absolute joy...Dr Nick Lane employs a clarity of thought and an adroitness of expression that allows the reader to easily navigate his enviable breadth of knowledge. A breadth of knowledge that never scrimps on detail whilst delivering logic and inspiration in equal measure. The very definition of a 'must read' for anyone that has ever marvelled at the complexity of life (Laboratory News)
If Charles Darwin sprang from his grave, I would give him this fine book to bring him up to speed. (Matt Ridley)
Lane brings science alive with the kind of beautiful prose that turns a book full of interesting information into a book you simply cannot put down. (Amanda Gefter New Scientist)
Nick Lane is one of the most exciting science writers of our time. His book...reads like a smooth chronicle, has great subject matter and is well argued. (Steve Connor Independent)
With its vast scope, page-turning revelations and elegant prose, Nick Lane's Life Ascending is everything one could hope for in a science book (Robert Matthews Daily Telegraph)
WINNER OF THE 2010 ROYAL SOCIETY PRIZE FOR SCIENCE BOOKS
'If Charles Darwin sprang from his grave, I would give him this fine book to bring him up to speed. It's a breathless bulletin from the accelerating rush of news about the secrets of life on planet earth.', Matt RidleySee all Product description
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One can only admire the author for tacking a huge subject head-on in a new way, and most reviews seem to have considered it an unqualified success and to have understood everything. For me, a little less technical detail in some chapters might have improved its readability and my understanding – yes a success, but not totally.
As a result of reading the book whatever fragments of information I possessed on the topic of life were profoundly enriched. My fragmentary knowledge on the emergence of life on earth and subsequent ascent from bacteria (prokaryotes) to multi cellular organisms (eukaryotes - possessing a true nucleus) along with landmark stages in evolution to the present magic and varied tapestry of plants and animals coalesced, cohered,and became an integrated and convincing whole.
Really well written in an engaging style. Love the way he also brings in the personality traits - in a friendly and sometime mildly disrespectful manner - of the famous researchers in the field.
I have heard Nick Lane present on the "Origins of Complex Life". He is also a excellent presenter. If you get the chance do go and see him.
In Life Ascending, biochemist Nick Lane examines his particular candidates for the top ten "inventions" of evolution. These are; the origin of life, DNA, photosynthesis, the eukaryotic cell, sex, movement, sight, hot blood, consciousness and death.
The book itself is a fascinating account of some of the central themes of life, from the origin of life itself, through to consciousness and, finally, death. It is extremely well written by a passionate scientist and provides a clear and lucid insight into current scientific thinking regarding the evolution of the subjects selected for inclusion in the book. While the whole book is comendable, one of my favourite chapters is the very first, which explains how the discovery of submarine hydrothermal and alkaline vents, their structure and chemistry have transformed our understanding of the origin of life on this planet.
The author isn't afraid to tackle some difficult concepts head on and the first 3 chapters in particular deal with some pretty complex biochemistry. Whilst this is obviously intended as a popular science book, I would suggest that it possibly isn't all that suitable for the evolution/science novice.
Overall, a fascinating and well written account of our current understanding of the evolution of the chosen subjects, although if you are looking for a more "introductory" text, or a more general overview of evolution, I would suggest something like Jerry Coyne's excellent; "Why Evolution is True" or Dawkins' most recent offering; "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution".
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