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Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History Paperback – April 17, 1992

ISBN-13: 978-0393308570 ISBN-10: 039330857X Edition: Reprint

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reprint edition (April 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039330857X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393308570
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #378,519 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Stephen Jay Gould has a wide range of interests, and for many years he has shared his enthusiasms in the pages of Natural History and the New York Review of Books, among other journals. His passions include baseball, the puzzles of evolutionary theory, and the game of scholarly detection as it applies to questions such as, "What became of dinosaurs, anyway?". He answers entertainingly, but never talks down to his readers. Gould is one of modern natural science's great popularizers, but he shuns the temptation to make the giant reptiles of prehistory the Smurfs of the 1990s, in the manner of a certain purple dinosaur. The 35 pieces gathered here make for fine browsing, full of sideways glances and digressions that eventually make sense.

From Publishers Weekly

Successor to The Panda's Thumb , The Flamingo's Smile and other books, this collection of essays from Natural History magazine may be Gould's finest to date. Focusing on evolution, oddities of nature, remote connections between historical figures and the battle against creationism, the author is severely critical of science education in the U.S. and, in "The Case of the Creeping Fox Terrier," textbook publishers who fail to adequately update their revisions. He introduces the (French) Royal Commission of 1784 and its investigation of Mesmerism as an example of logic; discourses on the real origin of baseball; attempts to reconstruct the human family tree. In "Justice Scalia's Misunderstanding," Gould chides Antonin Scalia for his dissent in the 1987 Supreme Court creationism case; the justice, he argues, equated creation and evolution. Whether his topic is typewriter design, the technical triumph of Voyager or Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak, Gould holds our attention. His essays are illuminating, instructive and fun to read. Photos. BOMC selection; History Book Club featured alternate.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Stephen Jay Gould (1941-2002) was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard University. He published over twenty books, received the National Book and National Book Critics Circle Awards, and a MacArthur Fellowship.

Customer Reviews

This book came exactly as planned in my order.
D. Nalus
I really enjoy Gould's style, it is easy flowing prose and fairly straightforward to understand.
A. Woodley
Stephen Jay Gould's writing is always fascinating and this book was equally engrossing.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A. Woodley on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have really enjoyed Stephen Jay Gould. His range of essays and the scope of topics he discusses has always interested me, as has in ability to draw from what is clearly a profoundly wide range of material which covers literature, history, religion as well as natural history. This is I think the thing that most interests me and it is something which we don't often find in intellectual writing now, that ability to draw parallels, or discuss in depth issues outside of a certain subject matter. It reminds me a bit of the late Alistair Cook and his letters from America and these essays are mostly of about the same length.

This collection is 35 essays and collected into 10 loose sections. These include some interesting groupings which you would normally not expect from a natural scientist including Intellectual biography. His biography of Antoine Lavoisier is a case in point. Lavoissier, a renowned scientist of his time, was condemned to death at the guillotine during the French Revolution, and indeed was beheaded. Gould's biography manages to touch on the aspects of his life and death including the myths which remain on his last words and days, the attempted scientific restructuring of France by the revolutionaries (including new measurements and renaming of the months etc) and the revolution's final downfall, it turned out the revolution did need scientists after all.

There are essays on "kiwi eggs and the liberty Bell" or one of my favourites on Glow worms which uses the life of this insect to discuss our understanding of life processes of all insects - is the adult form the ultimate, or, like glowworms which are pupa, should we be reconsidering our adult-centric view of the natural world?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2002
Format: Paperback
Stephen Jay Gould writes another volume of essays that are profound in scope. Trying to review essays in book form is difficult, but taking the task at hand, here is what I have to say.
These collected essays are enlightening and thought provoking. They vary in scope and content, but are always stimulating. The author has a knack for making the reader think, as I suppose all good professors should, a task well taken here.
The writing is easily followed and straight forward with a smattering of Gould's wit thrown in for spice. The authou's sense of humor is also apparent. The essays are educational, even as the author brings two apparently different articles and ties them together with a common thread.
I found a cornucopia of disparate objects that fueled my intellectual pleasure, as I read through the book. Anyone interested in Natural History or just curious about life should read this book.
The author's flowing writing style is evident, his teaching skills are there to enjoy and learn from.
Read and enjoy good writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Cecil Bothwell VINE VOICE on November 19, 2007
Format: Paperback
My commendation of Stephen Jay Gould is in the way of a class action review. I do not remember reading anything by this author that was not satisfying and worthwhile - though sometimes at odds with my own views. This collection of essays was simply the latest I had found at the library when I wrote this review (some years ago). Gould's explorations of science and its cultural relevance, his clear explanations of arcane points of evolutionary theory, and his evident excitement about learning make him one of my faves. Why is the QWERTY keyboard (on which I am typing this review) a good example of the tendency of evolutionary changes to persist? What can we learn about creationism from the myth that Abner Doubleday invented baseball? How might the popularization of dinosaurs be used to improve science education? Why is birth only a point on a continuum? Why do kiwis lay enormous eggs, and what does that tell us about scientific research? This is brain candy of the first order. Check it out.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Song on December 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Gould makes clever analogies & comparisons of natural sciences with common things around us. Most of the topics he covered would be a bore to read by itself but Gould masterfully entertains & educates with his adroit prose & humorous side comments.
It is a bit on the long side and some of his comparisons used fads of the early 90's which are not relevant today; but all in all, the book is a winner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 21, 1997
Format: Paperback
The 20th century has produced 3 truly great science writers, professional scientists who are able to not only write well, and not only in their own particular fields, but in virtually all fields of science and culture. Two of those great writers, Isaac Asimov and Carl Sagan, are no longer among us. The third, Stephen Jay Gould, is. Gould is an eclectic writer and a true scholar, able to make virtually any subject not only accessible to the "average" reader, if there is any such animal, but also fascinating- if you have no interest in the subject of an essay when you begin reading, you will have an interest by the time you finish. Gould's essays wander far and wide across many fields of science, religion, literature, history and human nature, but all revolve around his one central passion- evolution, and how it effects EVERYTHING (earning for Gould the eternal contempt of Creationists.) If I could recommend the works of only two writers from whom you would be allowed to gain an understanding of the world, Stephen Jay Gould would be one of them (and Joseph Campbell the other
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