- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (Jun. 1995)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0684813262
- ISBN-13: 978-0684813264
- Package Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.7 x 2.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,507,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
What Is Life Hardcover – 1 Jun 1995
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"A masterpiece of science writing. . . . You will cherish "What Is Life? because it is so rich in poetry and science, in the service of profound philosophical questions."--Mitchell Thomashow, "Orion --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Inside Flap
In What Is Life? Margulis and Sagan have rephrased the answer to Schrodinger s brilliant question by means of a new and spirited explanation of the emergent levels of biological organization. . . . Theirs is a conceptual framework likely to influence future introductions to biology. E. O. Wilson
A witty, exuberant panorama of life that elaborates the place of symbiosis in evolution. Mary Catherine Bateson
This splendid book shows how much more there is to life than mere reductionist biology. Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan tread faithfully in Erwin Schrodinger s footsteps and are his true successors. James E. Lovelock" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
The mother and son team write well for both expert and lay reader alike, presenting between them a perfect blend of passion, good sense and scientific authority. And while this book is over 13 years old now, it hasn't really aged at all, which gives you some idea of how far ahead of her field Lynn Margulis' thinking has always lain. Many of the ideas that she and Dorion present in this book -- regarding early life, symbiogenesis and the division of all living things into five separate kingdoms instead of two -- are even now only just gaining common credence amongst evolutionary biologists.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
This is a fabulous, must-read book on the topic of "what is life", but I highly recommend buying only one copy of this paperback version. Then you need to go to Amazon's secondary sellers and find one or more "used, like new" copies of one of the two hardbound editions. Both of these hardcover editions are more impressive than the newer paperback, one being published in 1995 in London (Great Britain), and the second also being published in 1995, but by Simon & Schuster. Both of these hardcover editions were printed in Italy, by the way. The paperback version is printed on "permanent paper" but the quality, size, artisanship and design of the paperback version is not nearly as impressive as are the two hardbound editions.
This is why I recommend buying just one copy of the newer, compromised paperback (only because some of the scientific nomenclature has been updated), keeping in mind that the larger hardbound originals are so much easier to read and so much more "alive" (ironic, huh, given the title has to do with "life"), that I now find the paperback version to be overpriced and unable to match the awesome overall quality of the original hardbound.
In a sense, this difference in the two versions is much like the arguments that float out there about the relative value of e-books versus "real" books! If you ever wanted to understand the importance of typography, font selection, design, and binding of a book, then find a secondary seller here on Amazon (who has a "used/like new" version of one of the 1995 hardbound versions of this book), and buy that in addition to a copy of the "newer", less visually & emotionally impressive paperback.
By the way, Dorian Sagan comments in May of 2013 that he prefers the London hardcover version, the one printed in Italy. However, I can see no difference between this London (white cover) edition and the Simon & Shuster American edition (also printed in Italy, but with a black cover). Both were printed in 1995, and as far as I can tell they are identical.
But this book is far more than a random collection of facts. Margulis and her collaborators do an amazing job of assembling an understandable model of life using parts carefully selected from a vast body of biological knowledge. While a one-sentence definition is still elusive, the reader builds up a picture of life's most pertinent characteristics, as exhibited by the truly astounding diversity of living things on this planet. By the time I finished, I was satisfied that the authors had answered the question.
You don't need to be a biologist to understand and enjoy this book. Its beauty is that the greatest scientific thinking on the most complex topics has been presented in common english, with necessary scientific terms explained as they are introduced. If you are intrigued by the question of life, I doubt there's a more complete, accurate, understandable, and enjoyable answer available than this book.
an appendage. It is filled with awsome facts and enlightenments.
My only disappointment was that I am just an animal like all others on
this earth and nothing was said concerning what happens to me when
fungi take over. I mean "Me". Where do I go? Right now I beleive I just
plain die. It makes life a bit harder to face, to think all this is gone when
I die. Can anyone recommend a book that will help to give me an idea
as to what happens to my consciousness when I die??