Stephen Jay Gould's writing remains the modern standard by which popular science writing is judged. Ever since the late 1970s up until till his death in 2002, his monthly essay in Natural History and his full-length books bridged the yawning gap between science and wider culture. In this fascinating new collection of essays from Natural History, Gould applied biographical perspectives to the illumination of key scientific concepts and their history, ranging from the origins of palaeontology to modern eugenics and genetic engineering. The essays brilliantly illuminate and elucidate the puzzles and paradoxes great and small that have fuelled the enterprise of science and opened our eyes to a world of unexpected wonders.
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(199mm x 130mm x 27mm)
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
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UK Kirkus Review »
This is scientist and writer Gould's ninth volume of essays (originally published in the journal Natural History. It is also, he says, the penultimate one. What is a reviewer to say about this polymath of science? For the many people who have read him in the past and become addicted, simply saying: his latest title is available, is no doubt sufficient. For others, it should be said that the essays here are far more than simple statements on the ways of the world. They cast fresh light on the history of science and bring to life the people who have played a part in its discovery. They also look ahead. The focus is natural history, but the topics here are wide ranging. In one, for example, Gould writes about the familiar topic of dinosaurs, taking as his starting point the 19th century anatomist Richard Owen who gave them their name (meaning 'terrible lizard'), and manages to make every word fresh. In another he deals with the current controversies of genetic engineering. This enthusiasm for his work shines through; he seems to write as much to revel in his own delight at the world's puzzles and marvels, as to act as a popularizer in the conventional sense. It should be remembered too that many matters relating to natural history remain contentious. For example, Dawkins (whose books on evolution include The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker) regularly clashes swords with Gould over the pace at which evolution proceeds. Given the uncertainties of the state of current knowledge, it is to be hoped that such erudite and entertaining writers will long continue to cast light on the developing picture. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University, and the Vincent Astor Visiting Professor of Biology at New York University. During his illustrious career, his publications included Ever Since Darwin, Eight Little Piggies, Life's Grandeur, Questioning the Millenium, Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms, Bully for Brontosaurus and Wonderful Life. Wonderful Life won the Science Book Prize for 1991. Stephen Jay Gould died in 2002, aged 60.