History of Science

Darwin Deleted: Imagining a World without Darwin

by Peter J Bowler

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 318 pages.

Darwin Deleted, writes reviewer William Kimler, “is a fully fleshed imagining of the type of evolutionary theory that might have developed had Darwin not lived,” which “gives us a brilliant scholar, fully in command of his material, enjoying himself in thinking through what might otherwise have been by constructing a counterfactual history.” “[A]nyone who has read a biography of Darwin or followed the controversies over evolution will find a graceful, cogent discussion full of small gems and larger lessons.”

Once We All Had Gills

by Rudolf A Raff

Bloomington (IN): Indiana University Press, 2012. 354 pages.

According to reviewer Scott F Gilbert, “it is well worth while to read this book for many reasons. One is to read of a life, a life in science, well lived. But this is not only an autobiography of Rudolf Raff; it is a biography of contemporary embryology and how it, too, has changed during the past half-century. Moreover, this is a book about natural history as path to science.”

The Life of David Lack

by Ted Anderson

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 256 pages.

Although Ted R Anderson’s “short book is packed with interesting detail,” reviewer Paul Lawrence Farber concludes, “the biography suffers from its close focus on Lack’s writings and personal life at the expense of looking at the broader intellectual and institutional context of his work. Nonetheless, The Life of David Lack is a welcome addition to the literature on the history of evolution, and it will be of interest to all of those who teach about evolution in their classes.”

Looking for a Few Good Males

by Erika Lorraine Milam

Baltimore (MD): The John Hopkins University Press, 2010. 236 pages.

Looking for a Few Good Males provides a historical survey, essentially limited to the twentieth century, of concepts and research concerning biological issues of female reproductive choices,” reviewer Lee Ehrman explains. Especially valuable in her view are “a chronological record of experiments into sexual selection—described, documented, and interpreted as nowhere else. These chapters ... span American, British, and French-American collaborations ... .

Charles Darwin: A Celebration of His Life and Legacy

edited by James T Bradley with Jay Lamar

Montgomery (AL): NewSouth Books, 2013. 253 pages.

The product of Auburn University’s celebration of the Darwin anniversaries in 2009, “this anthology would be of interest to anyone wishing to gain a grasp of the impact of Darwin on the disciplines discussed in these essays, and anyone seeking lucidity regarding the theory of organic evolution,” writes reviewer Carol Anelli, who particularly liked the contributions by Richard Dawkins; Kelly A Schmidtke, John F Magnotti, Anthony A Wright, and Jeff Katz; Anthony Moss; and James T Bradley.

Darwin: A Graphic Biography

by Eugene Byrne and Simon Gurr

Washington (DC): Smithsonian Books, 2013. 100 pages.

Reviewer Daniel J. Glass writes, "Darwin: A Graphic Biography ... is, as its name suggests, a biography of the renowned scientist in graphic novel form, and it can be confidently added to the burgeoning library of such works that can be of great benefit to grade school classrooms learning about science and science history.

Rereading the Fossil Record: The Growth of Paleobiology as an Evolutionary Discipline

by David Sepkoski

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2012. 432 pages.

“David Sepkoski’s book is the one book that anyone interested in evolution should buy this year,” writes reviewer Kevin Padian. “The reason is that, for the first time, the emergence of the modern science of macroevolution receives its due.  … [I]n a very few years, probably from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s, the science of the past experienced a complete revolution, and the questions that were opened and tested are the same ones that are being tested today.

The Rocks Don’t Lie: A Geologist Investigates Noah’s Flood

by David R. Montgomery

New York: WW Norton, 2012. 320 pages.

“David R. Montgomery, a University of Washington geomorphologist, has written an entertaining and very readable book detailing why Flood literalists find so little support in the rock record,” writes reviewer Steven Newton. “Ranging from Mount Everest to the Grand Canyon, from the Creation Museum to ice-dammed Tibetan valleys, Montgomery explains what kind of features a worldwide flood would have created—and why what we see in the real world simply does not match.

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?

Darwin the Writer

by George Levine
New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. 244 pages.

“George Levine’s fine new book … will certainly assist you in recognizing the beauty of Darwin’s language and convince you of the importance of actually reading Darwin before you start conversing in any depth about his ideas,” writes reviewer Michael Roos. “Levine intends to show us how much of Darwin’s enchantment with the world is inherent in the very language of his great texts, especially The Voyage of the Beagle and On the Origin of Species.