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The Accidental Species

by Henry Gee

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 203 pages.

The Accidental Species is aimed at disputing human exceptionalism, reviewer Jonathan Marks explains, complaining that its “ambitious theoretical goals … tend to be more strongly avowed than subtly argued.” But he praises the book nevertheless for “the pains it takes to contextualize paleoanthropology within paleontology more generally. …The style is casual and the recapitulation of human paleontology is well-referenced and largely unproblematic,” if sometimes idiosyncratic, Marks adds, concluding, “In sum, this is a very readable book by a knowledgeable author.”

The Tree of Life

edited by Pablo Vargas and Rafael Zadoya

Sunderland (MA): Sinauer, 2014. 713 pages.

Comparing The Tree of Life with Guillaume Lecointre and Hervé Le Guyader’s similar 2006 book of the same name, reviewer Kevin Padian writes, “The aim of both books is to document the phylogenetic relationships of living groups, characterizing each one by its unique features … and providing a sketch of its ecology and evolution. In this respect both books succeed remarkably.” Vargas and Zadoya’s book emphasizes molecular evidence and is not quite so accessible as its namesake: “I suggest you acquire both,” Padian concludes.

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