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Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History [Paperback]

by Stephen Jay Gould
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 17, 1992 0393308189 978-0393308181

More than any other modern scientists, Stephen Jay Gould has opened up to millions the wonders of evolutionary biology. His genius as an essayist lies in his unmatched ability to use his knowledge of the world, including popular culture, to illuminate the realm of science.

Ever Since Darwin, Stephen Jay Gould's first book, has sold more than a quarter of a million copies. Like all succeeding collections by this unique writer, it brings the art of the scientific essay to unparalleled heights.

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Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History + The Panda's Thumb: More Reflections in Natural History + Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History
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Editorial Reviews


“A shrewd and learned intellectual whose essays on Charles Darwin have the style and address of what in other circumstances might be the writing of a literary critic upon Stendhal or Proust or other such major figure in the world of letters.” (P. B. Medawar - The Sciences)

“A remarkable achievement by any measure. [Gould] is profoundly intelligent, a writer of great natural wit, and his sophistication and learning range far beyond the parameters of his academic field, biology. . . . One is hard pressed to single out past writers who could wear the sobriquet of natural history essayist with such distinction.” (David Walsten - Chicago Tribune)

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.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (July 17, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393308189
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393308181
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 3.3 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #52,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
52 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever since Gould scientific essays are fun October 11, 2000
If I ever have to prove to my son that science can be an entertaining adventure and anything but a reclusive activity, I will give him one of Stephen Jay Gould's books to read. "Ever since Darwin" is the first in a series of collected essays which Gould originally wrote for scientific journals. Some of his favorite subjects are the purposeless, non-progressive nature of evolution (and why we like to deny this fact), the unconscious reflection of social and political ideas in scientific theories, the explanatory power of Darwin's theory, and the peculiar details of the history of science (for example, why Darwin was NOT the naturalist on board of the H.M.S. Beagle). Gould's essays are always full of surprising details, telling anecdotes and witty asides. He would have made an excellent Enlightenment philosopher because he reminds his readers again and again that reason and the scientific method are powerful instruments - if one is aware of their limitations (for example, the "anthropocentric bias", the belief in human "specialness"). Throughout, Gould highlights the human side of science, and the human creativity involved. For him, science is not a "mechanical collection of facts and induction of theories, but a complex process involving intuition, bias, and insight from other fields". Gould has a gentle humor, and an infectious enthusiasm; he likes to play with words (one essay is titled "Is the Cambrian Explosion a Sigmoid Fraud?"), asks interesting questions, never shys away from the odd detail, and takes particular pleasure in theories that contradict common sense. Read more ›
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gould on the nature of things June 14, 2000
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a wonderful reading experience. Dr. Gould is a truely gifted writer with a wonderful wit and colorful style. He has a broad range of interests and knowledge and an interesting circle of friends and collegues upon whose wisdom he also draws (Astronomer Sagan, Geologists Press and Siever, were among those with whose work I was familiar). He also manages to approach "accepted" theories from unusual directions, sometimes with novel and provokative results! The collection of essays includes an interesting work on the effects of the personality of the Captain of the Beagle on the formulation of Darwin's theories; a subject that had certainly never occurred to me. There is also an interesting discussion of the human baby as an unfinished embryo, with interesting implications for the upper limit on brain size and for human evolution as a whole. The effect of size on intellectual potential of the brains of different species, for instance ants vs humans, is the topic under discussion in the Sizing up of Human Intelligence. The interaction of planetary size and surface area and the concommitant implications for development of life is the subject of another article. The effect of social millieu on the development and acceptance of scientific theories is also discussed as is the hindsight criticism of "wrong" theories and their proponents. Probably most interesting, and certainly most urgently in need of repetition even now, is the tendency to use scientific "fact" or verbal slight of hand to support social status quo or even abuse by those with a political agenda. Many of the essays could be well used in high school classes to teach and encourage critical thinking and novel approaches to what is commonly held as "fact." I would not just recommend the book to you, I would encourage you to read it cover to cover!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His first essays were his best May 25, 2004
This book offers a dazzling tour of Darwiniana, often as straight history but always in the form of essays for (Natural History Magazine) that are digestible in one sitting. Gould's writing is so masterful and clear that it is simply stunning to read. Gould comes across as a great humanist, respectful of the points of view of others - even the Creationists - and erudite in only the way a lover of knowledge can be. I have studied his writing style for years: it is elegant, spare yet sensual, and continually reformulates ideas is new ways, that is, rarely repetitive. Unlike his later essays, which covered quirkier details in increasingly lugubrious attempts to get at the broader notions he cherished, these essays are fresh and light, in my view amoung the best of the entire series.
As an introducer of popular notions and as a scientist, I believe that Gould will be remembered as a genius. I think he was one of the great essayists of the 20C. Warmly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History June 18, 2002
Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History by Stephen Jay Gould is a collection of essays, his first, that brings together his knowledge, wit and intellectual musings to the art of writing a scientific essay as no other can.
There are 33 essays in the tome that are unparalleled and are far beyond any of his contemporaries, but brought to us by his unmatched ability, so the common man can understand his intrinsic intuitive profundity.
Gould brings us essays on Darwiniana, Human Evoution, Odd Organisms and Evolutionary Exemplars, Patterns and Punctuation in the History of Life, Theories of the Earth, Size and Shape, from Churches to Brains to Planets, Science in Society-- a Historical View, The Scince and Politics of Human Nature. All of these are thought provoking with a sophistication unmatched in the realm of science today.
As we read on in the book, we see the knowledge brought to us. Can we who read this comprehend both the lessons and the limits of scientific understanding here? Gould brings us his thoughts, as we read, I can only wonder and learn. This is a remarkable achievement.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good book, filled with loads of details
I had to get this for my science class and overall I enjoy the subject of natural selection and speciation.
Published 6 months ago by Christian Pineda
5.0 out of 5 stars A great intro to an amazing mind of the natural sciences
This book is a great foundation for the later books in his series of collected essays. While these are shorter than later essays, and generally dealing with broad themes on... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Robert jack
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect Gift for Teens Interested in Evolutionary Biology and Genetics
Gould's accessible discussion of natural history and evolution brings complicated concepts to life. Great read for everyone, but especially kids who are interested in science and... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Jennifer Goebel
4.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to Gould
When it comes to popular writings on Evolution, the two names I most often hear are Dawkins and Gould. While I've read several books from Dawkins, this is my first one from Gould. Read more
Published on April 10, 2012 by David T.
4.0 out of 5 stars Dated, but still interesting
Written in the 1970's, "Ever Since Darwin" is very dated, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone looking to broaden their understanding of evolution. Read more
Published on April 5, 2012 by JV
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice read
Ever Since Darwin is a good book for those who already have a substantial knowledge regarding evolutionary theory. Read more
Published on October 31, 2011 by Hiam
4.0 out of 5 stars Understanding Evolution
Unlike many of those who discuss the subject today, Stephen Jay Gould had a very positive and non-defensive approach to discussing evolution. Read more
Published on August 12, 2011 by Dave_42
5.0 out of 5 stars Science Writing for any IQ
An egregious loss, Stephen Jay Gould's passing at age 61 in 2002, because the man wrote about science in a compelling, easy to follow, highly engaging and educational manner. Read more
Published on July 15, 2011 by R. D'Alessandro III
4.0 out of 5 stars Cogent, informative and witty
I used this collection as a choice* for students in ENG 101 at a community college. How better to teach writing than to use the masterful essays of an accomplished prose stylist... Read more
Published on May 10, 2011 by S. Wozniak
5.0 out of 5 stars This collection of essays will change your worldview - OUTSTANDING
This book is a collection of thirty-something essays that Steven Jay Gould wrote in the 70s on evolution, natural selection, plate tectonics, and related topics. Read more
Published on June 8, 2010 by Utah Blaine
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