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Taking Wing

by Pat Shipman
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. 336 pages.

From the publisher: "In 1861, just a few years after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, a scientist named Hermann von Meyer made an amazing discovery. Hidden in the Bavarian region of Germany was a fossil skeleton so exquisitely preserved that its wings and feathers were as obvious as its reptilian jaws and tail. This transitional creature offered tangible proof of Darwin's theory of evolution. Hailed as the First Bird, Archaeopteryx has remained the subject of heated debates for the last 140 years.

Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy: The Life and Science of Ernst Mayr 1904-2005

by Jürgen Haffer
New York: Springer, 2007. 474 pages.

As Jürgen Haffer's title suggests, the late Ernst Mayr — a member of NCSE — was a towering figure in several fields, including ornithology. (He coauthored a book on the birds of northern Melanesia in 2001 — at the age of 97!) Reviewing Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy for a recent issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach, Ulrich Kutschera wrote, "After reading Haffer's comprehensive biography, we have to conclude that Ernst Mayr may be regarded as the 'Einstein of the modern life sciences.' This first biography ...

Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species

by Sean B. Carroll
New York: Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, 2009. 352 pages.

In Remarkable Creatures, Sean B. Carroll — one of the principal architects of evolutionary developmental biology ("evo devo") — turns his attention to the history of evolutionary theory, offering vignettes of the explorers, from Darwin’s day to ours, whose discoveries provided the evidential basis for modern biology. Neil Shubin writes, "In addition to being one of our most distinguished scientists, Sean Carroll is a gifted storyteller.

The Cambridge Companion to the Origin of Species

edited by Robert J Richards and Michael Ruse
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 424 pages.

From the publisher: "This Companion commemorates the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species and examines its main arguments. Drawing on the expertise of leading authorities in the field, it also provides the contexts — religious, social, political, literary, and philosophical — in which the Origin was composed.

Darwin's Origin of Species: A Biography

by Janet Browne
New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006. 320 pages.

The author of Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place here turns her attention to the Origin, providing a brief but scintillating account of its composition and reception. "[T]he Origin of Species was clearly a major publishing event that spectacularly altered the nature of discussion on the question of origins," Browne writes in her concluding chapter.

Darwin's Sacred Cause

by Adrian Desmond and James Moore
New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. 448 pages.

From the publisher: "In their new book, timed to coincide with the worldwide Darwin bicentenary celebrations, Desmond and Moore provide a major reexamination of Darwin's life and work. Drawing on a wealth of fresh manuscripts, unpublished letters, notebooks, diaries, and ships' logs, they argue that the driving force behind Darwin's theory of evolution was not simply his love of truth or personal ambition — it was his fierce hatred of slavery.

Charles Darwin: The Power of Place

by Janet Browne
Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. 600 pages.

Charles Darwin: The Power of Place is the second volume of Janet Browne's acclaimed biography of Darwin, preceded by Charles Darwin: Voyaging. Browne continues her brilliantly detailed story of Darwin's life, beginning in 1858 with the events that forced him to unveil his theory of evolution by natural selection to the world.

The Reluctant Mr Darwin

by David Quammen
New York: Atlas, 2007. 304 pages.

Focusing on the twenty-one year period between Darwin's return from his travels on the Beagle and the eventual publication of On the Origin of Species, Quammen illuminates the development of Darwin's thoughts and his hesitation to tell the world.

Charles Darwin: The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man

by Tim Berra
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

From the publisher: "Tim M Berra, whose 'Darwin: The Man' lectures are in high demand worldwide, tells the fascinating story of the person and the idea that changed everything. Berra discusses Darwin's revolutionary scientific work, its impact on modern-day biological science, and the influence of Darwin's evolutionary theory on Western thought. But Berra digs deeper to reveal Darwin the man by combining anecdotes with carefully selected illustrations and photographs.


by Edward O Wilson
New York: Warner Books, 1995. 416 pages.

"Most children have a bug period," Edward O Wilson writes in his charming autobiography, Naturalist. "I never grew out of mine." He became a distinguished entomologist. But he also became a pioneer of sociobiology, a champion of biodiversity, and a graceful and elegant writer, winning the Pulitzer Price twice. "In this exquisitely written memoir," wrote the reviewer for USA Today, "the famed Harvard scientist looks back at his childhood in the South as well as his career as a groundbreaking thinker in the field of evolutionary biology.


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