Stephen Jay Gould's writing remains the modern standard by which popular science writing is judged. Ever since the last 1970s, his monthly essay in Natural History and his full-length books have bridged the yawning gap between science and the wider culture. This fascinating new collection of essays contains some of Gould's bestw riting on a variety of subjects ranging from Leonardo da Vinci and Martin Luther to fossils and the history of science. As always, these essays brillantly display his gift for colloquial and vivid explanation, and include fascinating oddities from the natural world and the printed word.
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One of this century's most thoughtful and prolific naturalists, Harvard professor Stephen Jay Gould looks at the human twists on science in his eighth series of essays taken from Natural History magazine. As only he can, Gould finds questions where others have never looked, and answers where others have been blinded--by their professional rivalries, by their unacknowledged privilege in society, by the dominant world-view at their particular juncture in history. "All great science," he says in the title essay, "indeed all fruitful thinking, must occur in a social and intellectual context--and contexts are just as likely to promote insight as to constrain thought." Gould's gift is being able to identify context, and see patterns in diverse fields or people or moments in history in a way that Darwin saw patterns in living species.
This book is less about clams, worms, and Leonardo than about some evolutionary dead ends in human intellectual history. It's not an easy read. Those who are already Gould fans will find more tantalizing tidbits--no, thick stew--from this fruitful author. Those first-timers drawn by an intriguing title will scratch, frown, fall asleep, swear, and generally want to give up. But don't! Gould is one of those authors that takes some getting used to. With a little patience, his extravagant prose will edify rather than trip you, and his digressions will delight rather than distract. --Lauran Cole WarnerFrom the Back Cover:
Praise for Questioning the Millennium
"Gould poses three questions about the millennium in this delicious science-historical jeu d'esprit. . . . [This] may be the most enjoyable millennium book of the second millennium."
"With a humorous Everyman approach, Gould juggles a mind-boggling array of various calendrical concepts as he explains why creating a reliable calendar was one of man's greatest struggles. Whether nailing down the precise date of the birth of Christ or airing his suspicion that God is a New York Yankees fan, Gould teaches rather than preaches."
Praise for Full House
"Bacteria and baseball. Few authors besides Stephen Jay Gould could write convincingly about both. . . . Wandering about [Full House's] well-decorated rooms, nooks, and attics is a pleasure left to the reader."
--Washington Post Book World
"A tour de force of scientific reasoning, one that puts evolution in an astonishing new light."
--Wall Street Journal
"A veteran intellectual daredevil, Gould climbs further out on a thought-limb than ever before in his paradigm-shattering book. . . . Gould elegantly lays down a gauntlet here, and readers should rush to witness the first thrust in what may become a royal scientific duel."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Praise for Dinosaur in a Haystack
"[Gould] writes in a consistently graceful, approachable style, with easy elegance and clarity, and he is an incomparable explainer of difficult ideas."
--New York Times Book Review
"Passionate, eloquent. His is an unintimidating, entertaining, and masterful technique."
--San Francisco Chronicle
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Book Description Vintage, 1999. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 99289245