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Lives of a Biologist: Adventures in a Century of Extraordinary Science

by John Tyler Bonner
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002. 238 pages.

From the publisher: "Part autobiography, part history of the extraordinary transformation of biology in his time, Bonner's book is truly a life in science, the story of what it is to be a biologist observing the unfolding of the intricacies of life itself. Bonner's scientific interests are nearly as varied as the concerns of biology, ranging from animal culture to evolution, from life cycles to the development of slime molds." "If you like biology, biography, and history of science and don't mind having fun reading it, then this book is for you," writes Mary Jane West-Eberhard.

In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace

by Michael Shermer
New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 448 pages.

Reviewing In Darwin's Shadow for RNCSE (2003 Mar/Apr; 23 [2]: 36–7), Aubrey Manning wrote, "This is a distinguished and scholarly biography with excellent coverage of the science. Shermer is concerned with the history of evolutionary ideas and uses the interaction between Wallace, Darwin, and others to great effect.

The Tragic Sense of Life

by Robert J Richards
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. 551 pages.

Subtitled "Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought," The Tragic Sense of Life offers not only a biography of Haeckel, who was the foremost champion on evolution in Germany before World War I, but also a meticulous examination of his impact on biology and politics. The reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement writes, "The Tragic Sense of Life is an immensely impressive work of biography and intellectual history, and a fitting testament to a complex and contradictory character, a 'polymorphic scientist-artist-adventurer'.

Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest

by Adrian Desmond
New York: Basic Books, 1999. 848 pages.

A lively and definitive biography of Thomas Henry Huxley. Not merely Darwin's bulldog, Huxley was also instrumental in promoting the public understanding of science and in establishing science as a profession. Writes the reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, "Desmond moves briskly and wittily through the entertaining events of Huxley's life ...

Buffon: A Life in Natural History

by Jacques Roger
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. 492 pages.

"If a man's destiny were written in his origins or his heredity, Buffon would have died president of the Burgundy parlement," Jacques Roger begins his biography of Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon and the premier French scientist of the Enlightenment. "That he had a passion for the sciences and became the greatest French naturalist is a sort of joke of nature, the result of a personal calling, and ultimately inexplicable." The reviewer for American Zoologist wrote, "Buffon is a work of great charm, interest, and importance.

Erasmus Darwin: A Life of Unequalled Achievement

by Desmond King-Hele
London: Giles de La Mare, 1999. 448 pages.

Physician, botanist, inventor, physiologist, and poet, the polymath Erasmus Darwin is also noteworthy for anticipating the scientific theory of evolution — complete with a recognition of the fossil record, the reality of extinction, and the immense age of the earth. The reviewer for Nature wrote of Desmond King-Hele's thorough biography, "Few scientific lives have ever been so carefully and thoughtfully examined.

The Spirit of System: Lamarck and Evolutionary Biology

by Richard W Burkhardt Jr
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995. 320 pages.

A definitive study of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, often credited as the first scientist to develop a truly coherent evolutionary theory, Richard W Burkhardt Jr's The Spirit of System considers Lamarck and his achievements in their own context, rather than as a mere, and misguided, anticipation of Darwin. Praising the revised edition, Michael Ruse wrote, "The Spirit of System was a classic from its first appearance. It was and still is simply the definitive account of the great French founder of evolutionary biology. ...

Linnaeus: The Compleat Naturalist

by Wilfrid Blunt
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002. 288 pages.

Lavishly illustrated and enlivened by a host of vivid passages from Linnaeus's own work, Wilfrid Blunt's biography, originally published in 1971, gives a fascinating and rounded portrait of the developer of the Systema Naturae, Linnaeus's ambitious and seminal project of systematic taxonomy. The eminent botanist William T Stearn provides an introduction and an appendix on Linnaean classification, nomenclature, and method. "This evocative account of Linnaeus's life and achievements has become a natural history classic," writes Janet Browne.

Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science

by Deborah Cadbury
New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2001. 374 pages.

An exciting recounting of the 19th-century discovery of the dinosaurs, featuring such characters as Mary Anning, William Buckland, Georges Cuvier, Richard Owen, Gideon Mantell, and Charles Lyell. Carl Zimmer writes, "Cadbury ... turns what could have been just a string of anecdotes into high drama. Much of her success comes from her depth of research: she has scoured diaries, letters and newspaper archives and can tell her story in the words of the people who lived it."

The Dating Game: One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth

by Cherry Lewis
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 272 pages.

"It is perhaps a little indelicate to ask of our mother Earth her age, but Science acknowledges no shame." So quipped Arthur Holmes, one of the major figures in the history of attempts to determine the age of the earth, and the subject of Cherry Lewis's lively biography, The Dating Game. The reviewer for Earth Sciences History writes, "it is always a pleasure — and alas, not a common pleasure — to read a really well-written geological biography.


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