Subtitled 'The Origin Of Species Updated'
Steve Jones. Random House 1999
Hardback.240mm x 170mm x 35mm. 376 pages.
A good volume. Cream covers with white dust jacket. It falls open readily and for the most part will lie open. An open readable font thick enough to be clear and with enough lead - a little less than 50% I'd say.
This is an excellent 'must have' book.
Called 'Darwin's Ghost' because it is sort of a ghost writing of Darwin's 'Origin'. Sort of. What the author does is meet all the quibbles and criticisms and shortcomings associated with Darwin's 'Origin'.
Such things as even we ordinary non-scientist folks have heard of like 'where's the missing link?' and 'How can evolution account for organs that are useless until fully developed?'
and many, many more. He goes into great detail. It is a scholarly work, make no mistake about that. Detailed science. Arguing quite involved or particular things. But his writing ability is such that it is readily comprehensible to the unscientific reader.
This really is a book for everyone. It is an education reading it. An education without pain, without effort. Just keep reading and gently by some osmotic process levels or areas of understanding will grow within one.
I'm not fond of the frequent anthropomorphisation - in fact it is ubiquitous, it might even be the theme, the tenor, of the book. It perhaps indicates the author's passion for his subject, his belief and close identification with the process of evolution.. he has animated it with a human animism, a human psychology... And that gives his book a tremendous readable quality I think, adds verve, immediacy. It relates his subject matter to us, makes it comprehensible to us, brings it into our sphere.
Which is good I guess but it shouldn't - I think - be forgotten that it's not really like that. These decisions, motivations, actions are not real. Evolution is without thought, decision, motivation.
An example of what I mean:
" The more a fruit fly copulates, the sooner it dies, and the more cones a Douglas fir makes, the slower it can grow. Life is a gamble. Any animal must decide whether to make a large stake in the hope of a payoff, or to delay a bet in the hope of better odds."
Well, of course, no animal makes any such decision. Unless it be the human animal.
But that's probably my quibblel. Not having then nous to say anything really pertinent to the subject I have my little quibble. No matter.
It is a great book. Wholly convincing. Totally captivating in a wealth of fact like walking through a teeming tropic jungle.
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