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Proving Darwin: Making Biology Mathematical

by Gregory Chaitin
New York: Pantheon Books, 2012. 144 pages.

“This is an infuriating little book,” writes reviewer Jeffrey Shallit, complaining of its poor writing, its failure to cite relevant literature, and its author’s tendency for self-promotion and exaggeration. “Nevertheless, despite all these flaws … the book is written in an engaging and enthusiastic style, and does contain one rather interesting idea.” Shallit concludes, “So contrary to the title of his book, Chaitin has not proved Darwin mathematically.

Naming Nature: The Clash between Instinct and Science

by Carol Kaesuk Yoon
New York: WW Norton, 2009. 299 pages

Reviewer Andrew J. Petto writes, “the story of the history and diversity of life is a saga of descent from shared ancestral populations. Therefore, our way of naming organisms ought to reflect those biologic relationships.

Life Ascending

by Nick Lane
New York: W. W. Norton, 2009. 344 pages.

Jere H. Lipps writes, in his review-essay of Life Ascending, "Nick Lane’s book is terrific, a different presentation of evolution than we have generally had in the past. Lane, a biochemist, has chosen ten 'Great Inventions of Evolution' to write about and to convey 'some of my own thrill in the chase'. And thrilling each chase is.

Evolution and Creationism: A Very Short Guide, second edition

by Warren D. Allmon
Ithaca (NY): Paleontological Research Institution, 2009. 128 pages.

“When the Paleontological Research Institution opened its Museum of the Earth in 2003, its director Warren Allmon realized that the floor educators and volunteer docents needed accessible, accurate, and current information on evolution. This volume updates the original, in terms of both new scientific advances and external legal and social events,” writes reviewer Robert “Mac” West.

The Neighborhood Project

by David Sloan Wilson
New York: Little, Brown, 2011. 448 pages.

Reviewer Richard F. Firenze writes that Wilson “is suggesting that by reading the directions, written in the language of evolution, and working with what’s on the table, a species honed for survival and reproduction on the African savanna by what he calls the ‘hammer blows of natural selection’ ... can create not just a better city …

Anarchy Evolution

by Greg Graffin and Steve Olson
New York: HarperCollins, 2010. 304 pages.

In Anarchy Evolution, Graffin, a punk rock star and a biologist, “presents his own naturalistic worldview in semi-autobiographical form” along with explanations of evolution, reviewer Richard P. Meisel explains. “Each component is compelling in its own right but the connections among these elements often come off as contrived.” While the treatment of evolution was for the most part solid, Meisel thinks that Anarchy Evolution will primarily appeal to fans of punk rock.

Arguing for Evolution: An Encyclopedia for Understanding Science

by Sehoya Cotner and Randy Moore
Santa Barbara (CA): ABC-Clio, 2011. 318 pages. Arguing for Evolution

Arguing for Evolution is the latest addition to an increasing number of books written to provide a view of contemporary evolutionary biology for the educated layperson … organized around chapters covering the scientific status of evolution, the age of the earth, fossils, biogeography, molecular and anatomical evidence of evolution, behavior, coevolution, and human evolution,” explains reviewer Erik Scully.

The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution

by Carl Zimmer
Greenwood Village (CO): Roberts and Company, 2010. 394 pages.

Reviewer Steve Rissing describes the writing of The Tangled Bank as “clear, concise, and very user-friendly,” its science as “remarkably current and complete” and its art as “fantastic [and] surprisingly ample and effectively colorful.”

Convergent Evolution: Limited Forms Most Beautiful

by George R. McGhee
Cambridge (MA): MIT Press, 2011. 321 pages.

Reviewer Kevin Padian praises Convergent Evolution as “a great compendium of information (there are dozens of tables in the book laying out examples of functional and ecological convergence in a huge range of animals, plants, ecosystems, and molecules)” and as “well written and a really stimulating read for graduates and undergraduates alike,” adding, “A whole lot of term papers will find inspiration in this book.”

Evolution: A View from the 21st Century

by James A. Shapiro
Upper Saddle River (NJ): FT Press Science, 2011. 253 pages.

“The main theme,” writes reviewer Laurence A. Moran, “is that discoveries in molecular biology and genomics have caused us to rethink our understanding of evolution in the 21st century.” Moran faults Shapiro for failing to provide adequate historical context, for caricaturing the positions he attacks, and for misunderstanding the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology.


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