Evolution: The First Four Billion Years

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9780674031753: Evolution: The First Four Billion Years

Spanning evolutionary science from its inception to its latest findings, from discoveries and data to philosophy and history, this book is the most complete, authoritative, and inviting one-volume introduction to evolutionary biology available. Clear, informative, and comprehensive in scope, Evolution opens with a series of major essays dealing with the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology, with major empirical and theoretical questions in the science, from speciation to adaptation, from paleontology to evolutionary development (evo devo), and concluding with essays on the social and political significance of evolutionary biology today.

A second encyclopedic section travels the spectrum of topics in evolution with concise, informative, and accessible entries on individuals from ­Aristotle and Linneaus to Louis Leakey and Jean Lamarck; from T. H. Huxley and E. O. Wilson to Joseph Felsenstein and Motoo Kimura; and on subjects from altruism and amphibians to evolutionary psychology and Piltdown Man to the Scopes trial and social Darwinism. Readers will find the latest word on the history and philosophy of evolution, the nuances of the science itself, and the intricate interplay among evolutionary study, religion, philosophy, and ­society.

Appearing at the beginning of the Darwin Year of 2009—the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin and the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species—this volume is a fitting tribute to the science Darwin set in motion.

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About the Author:

Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Florida State University. He is the founder and editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy, and has appeared on “Quirks and Quarks” and the Discovery Channel.

Review:

If ever there were an education in a book, there's one in this massive volume...What is most probably the commemorative par excellence of the Origin of Species sesquicentennial. (Ray Olson Booklist (starred review) 2008-12-01)

Half essay collection, half encyclopedia, it's packed with everything you'll ever want or need to know about the science of evolution. (Zelda Roland Wired 2008-12-22)

Broad, engaging, and useful. (Gregg Sapp Library Journal 2008-12-15)

Evolution, which is slightly less than 1,000 pages long, covers almost every angle of its huge subject, from the perspective of science, religion, philosophy, and history. (Evan R. Goldstein Chronicle of Higher Education 2009-03-06)

Harvard's blockbuster contribution to the Darwin anniversary is a substantial work at almost a thousand pages. (London Review of Books 2009-02-26)

Evolution: The First Four Billion Years is as equally inviting and particularly timely in this bicentennial year of the birth of Charles Darwin and the ever-bubbling controversy with advocates of a creationist explanation for the mysteries of biology...The 16 explaining essays, followed by the second encyclopedic section offer the reader an easily and enjoyable access to what the fuss is all about and why it is important to get one's own opinions based on reality. Life, after all, is too important. (James Srodes Washington Times 2009-03-22)

More than 100 authors contribute to the rich variety of excellent articles in this highly commendable and scholarly volume. The authors explore in detail evidence supporting the role of natural selection and other forces driving evolutionary change, and consider myriad controversies and unresolved issues in evolutionary science. Illustrative examples are drawn from all levels of life on Earth. The book critically examines distinctions between microevolution--which even religious Fundamentalists generally do not dispute--and the far more contentious macroevolution. Contributors also address the influence of evolution on philosophy, sociology, and religion and provide an excellent discussion of American antievolutionism and the ongoing controversy of teaching evolution versus intelligent design/creationism in schools. (D. A. Brass Choice 2009-07-01)

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