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Evolving: The Human Effect and Why It Matters

by Daniel J. Fairbanks

Amherst (NY): Prometheus Books, 2012. 328 pages.

“This sweeping summary of why the general public should understand the recent evidence for human evolution is an ambitious stab at rectifying the pitiful state of science teaching currently masquerading as modern biological education in many of our schools and universities,” writes reviewer Rebecca L. Cann.

Sex, Genes, and Rock ’n’ Roll: How Evolution Has Shaped the Modern World

by Rob Brooks

Lebanon (NH): University of New Hampshire Press, 2012. 322 pages.

Reviewer J. Michael Plavcan describesSex, Genes, and Rock ’n’ Roll as a popular book explaining how our understanding of evolutionary biology helps us understand human behavior,” adding, “The goal of the book is laudable, but in reviewing it, I am torn between my support for books that convey why understanding evolutionary biology matters to us, and my desire to have books about science actually reflect the complex tapestry of science, and not simply use selected scientific findings to weave an entertaining story. Bad science can do more damage than no science at all.”

The Leakeys: A Biography

by Mary Bowman-Kruhm

Amherst (NY): Prometheus Books, 2010. 181 pages.

While applauding Mary Bowman-Kruhm for her attempt to convey the paleoanthropological contributions of the Leakey family to middle-school students, reviewer Elizabeth Lawlor was unimpressed with the result: “How, then, is it possible to write a boring book about the Leakeys for middle-school students and their teachers?

The Fossil Chronicles: How Two Controversial Discoveries Changed Our View of Human Evolution

by Dean Falk

Berkeley (CA): University of California Press, 2011. 259 pages.

Reviewer Andrew Kramer writes, “This book, written by one of the field’s leading authorities on hominid paleoneurology (the study of human brain evolution), offers a provocative inside look at the past and present ‘paleopolitics’ surrounding two of the most significant fossil human discoveries made over the past century.

DNA USA: A Genetic Biography of America

by Bryan Sykes

New York: W. W. Norton, 2012. 320 pages.

In DNA USA, reviewer Anne D. Holden writes, “Sykes ventures across the Atlantic to piece together the complex genetic history of America.”

Children of Time: Evolution and the Human Story

by Anne H. Weaver

Albuquerque (NM): University of New Mexico Press, 2012. 192 pages.

“Anne Weaver’s Children of Time just happens to be the first material I’ve professionally reviewed that’s honest about whom the scientific study of human origins and evolution is actually for,” writes reviewer Holly M. Dunsworth: “the kids and the kids-at-heart of the world. And this book nails it.

The Philosophy of Human Evolution

by Michael Ruse

Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 282 pages.

The Philosophy of Human Evolution is a historical and critical survey of the ways in which Darwinian thinking has clashed and interacted with the concerns of philosophers,” reviewer Matt Cartmill explains. “Intended for a general audience, the book showcases Ruse’s manifold skills as a writer. His prose is lucid, straightforward, and colloquial. Each paragraph leads into the next with elegant coherence and no complicated impediments to the smooth flow of ideas.

Not a Chimp: The Hunt to Find the Genes that Make Us Human

by Jeremy Taylor
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 256 pages.

Reviewer Jonathan Marks summarizes, “Jeremy Taylor argues that (1) we are genomically more different than the 98–99% datum has indicated; (2) we are cognitively and behaviorally more different than the inhabitants of the post-Goodall world have been led to believe; and (3) the elision of human and chimpanzee, as animal-rights advocates have promoted, is unwarranted.

Inside the Human Genome: The Case for Non-Intelligent Design

by John C. Avise
New York: Oxford University Press, 2010. 240 pages.

Avise’s book highlights the baroque, redundant, and inefficient features of the human genome: “None of this is easily explained by actions of either a loving and merciful God or of an unnamed but highly competent Designer,” reviewers Arcady Mushegian and Eric Kessler comment. They add, “Avise’s account is concise but rich in historic and medical detail, and the prose is elegant and lucid.

Deep Ancestry

by Spencer Wells
Washington (DC): National Geographic, 2007. 256 pages.

In Deep Ancestry, Spencer Wells, the director of the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project, clearly explains the science behind the project — which is collecting DNA from a wide sample of the world’s population in order to understand the evolution of the human genome — and also engagingly relates the stories of five of its volunteers.


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