History of Science

Charles Darwin's Letters: A Selection, 1825-1859

edited by Frederick Burkhardt
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 279 pages.

Frederick Burkhardt, coeditor of the complete edition of Darwin's collected correspondence, was obviously in the ideal position to choose just the right letters to provide unparalleled insight into the thoughts and adventures of the young naturalist whose work was to revolutionize science. The judicious selection of letters in Burkhardt's volume takes the reader from Darwin's university days in Edinburgh through the eventful voyage of the Beagle to the publication of the Origin in 1859.

The Monk in the Garden

by Robin Marantz Henig
Boston: Mariner Books, 2001. 304 pages.

From the publisher: "The perplexing silence that greeted Mendel's discovery and his ultimate canonization as the father of genetics make up a tale of intrigue, jealousy, and a healthy dose of bad timing. Telling the story as it has never been told before, Robin Henig crafts a suspenseful, elegant, and richly detailed narrative that fully evokes Mendel's life and work and the fate of his ideas as they made their perilous way toward the light of day.

A Feeling for the Organism

by Evelyn Fox Keller
San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1983. 235 pages.

A scant five months after the original publication of Keller's biography in 1983, McClintock won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of mobile genetic elements — transposons, or "jumping genes". As Rollin Hotchkiss writes in the foreword, "Keller's calm recital of how McClintock faced professional gender hurdles and prejudices is factual reportage that can give every reader, male or female, a vicarious experience of these problems.

Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology

by William B. Provine
Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1989. 562 pages.

In Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology, William B Provine offers a massive (545 pages) biography of and testament to the work of Sewall Wright, who, together with R. A. Fisher and J. B. S. Haldane, founded modern theoretical population genetics. Provine's book was praised by Stephen Jay Gould, writing in Isis, as "the finest intellectual biography available for any twentieth-century evolutionist. In its wealth of detail and richness of insight it has established a standard for historical work in this field." Several of Wright's seminal papers are included.

The Double Helix

by James D. Watson
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1980. 298 pages.

Originally published in 1968, Watson's classic personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA continues to infuriate, titillate, and inspire its readers. The Norton Critical Edition, edited by Gunther Stent, includes reproductions of the original 1953 and 1954 papers describing the double helical structure of DNA, retrospectives from Francis Crick and Linus Pauling, and reviews of The Double Helix by a variety of authors, including Richard C. Lewonton, Peter M. Medawar, Robert K. Merton, and Philip Morrison.

A History of Genetics

by Alfred H. Sturtevant
Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2001. 174 pages.

As one of Thomas Hunt Morgan's brightest students, Sturtevant was ideally placed to write his History, first published in 1965. Nobel laureate E. D. Miller (and student of Sturtevant) writes in his foreword, "The reprinting of this classic book provides students with one of the few authoritative, analytical works dealing with the early history of genetics. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing and working with Sturtevant benefited greatly from hearing first-hand his accounts of that history as he knew it and, in many instances, experienced it.

The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents

by Jeffrey P. Moran
Boston: Bedford Books, 2002. 230 pages.

Following a detailed seventy-two-page introduction by Moran himself to the Scopes trial and its cultural and historical milieu, The Scopes Trial provides original source documents — extensive selections from the eight days of the trial transcript and contemporary coverage of the courtroom as well as cartoons and selections illuminating how the issues of the trial were connected with issues of race, educational freedom, feminism, new religious movements in the 1920s, and local control over education.

Defenders of the Truth: The Sociobiology Debate

by Ullica Segerstråle
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 504 pages.

Twenty-five years in the making, Defenders of the Truth offers a lively and comprehensive history-cum-analysis of the debate over sociobiology by a sociologist who followed it closely as it developed, interviewing such luminaries as Stephen Jay Gould, E. O .

Darwinism and its Discontents

by Michael Ruse
Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 316 pages.

The latest from NCSE Supporter Michael Ruse, Darwinism and its Discontents offers a review and defense of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. In the introduction, Ruse writes: "All the critics of Darwinism are deeply mistaken. Charles Darwin was a good scientist, the biological revolution of the nineteenth century led to genuine understanding, and today's version of the theory is good quality science. It tells you important things about the real world. ...

Systematics and the Origin of Species

by Ernst Mayr
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. 372 pages.

Systematics and the Origin of Species, published in 1942 and reissued, with a new introduction, in 1999, is widely regarded as largely responsible for the crowning achievement of the Modern Synthesis: demonstrating the compatibility of the evolutionary patterns and processes to be found in natural populations with Darwinian natural selection and Mendelian genetics.