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Comment: Very Good - Standard used condition book with the text inside being clean and unmarked - Exterior of the book shows moderate signs of usage - There is a minor stain to the exterior edges of the book that does not affect the text inside
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On Growth and Form: The Complete Revised Edition Paperback – June 23, 1992

3.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

First published in 1917, On Growth and Form was at once revolutionary and conservative. Scottish embryologist D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson (1860-1948) grew up in the newly cast shadow of Darwinism, and he took issue with some of the orthodoxies of the day--not because they were necessarily wrong, he said, but because they violated the spirit of Occam's razor, in which simple explanations are preferable to complex ones. In the case of such subjects as the growth of eggs, skeletons, and crystals, Thompson cited mathematical authority: these were matters of "economy and transformation," and they could be explained by laws governing surface tension and the like. (He doubtless would have enjoyed the study of fractals, which came after his time.) In On Growth and Form, he examines such matters as the curve of frequency or bell curve (which explains variations in height among 10-year-old schoolboys, the florets of a daisy, the distribution of darts on a cork board, the thickness of stripes along a zebra's flanks, the shape of mountain ranges and sand dunes) and spirals (which turn up everywhere in nature you look: in the curve of a seashell, the swirl of water boiling in a saucepan, the sweep of faraway nebulae, the twist of a strand of DNA, the turns of the labyrinth in which the legendary Minotaur lived out its days). The result is an astonishingly varied book that repays skimming and close reading alike. English biologist Sir Peter Medawar called Thompson's tome "beyond comparison the finest work of literature in all the annals of science that have been recorded in the English tongue." --Gregory McNamee

About the Author

Ken Thompson is a plant ecologist and Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield. He writes regularly on the science of gardening for <i>Organic Gardening</i> magazine.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1116 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Revised edition (June 23, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486671356
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486671352
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.3 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Frank Bierbrauer on March 22, 2000
Format: Paperback
I heard about this marvellous book as I was reading in the typical popular science literature years ago now but its almost impossible to avoid contact with this tome of the archetypal polymath D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson. A remarkable man with a wonderful open view of science and the, what's now called, interdisciplinarian approach to the world. Refreshingly full of new ideas especially for his day and even now where conservatism as usual is the norm in scientific circles. I hope many scientists read this book and see not just a curiosity but a representation of a whole approach to the world of nature. I will never forget the first time I read the chapter on coordinate transformations in animal shapes, today's schools simply do not inspire in this way and its time this changed. The prescence of this book, well read, on any person's bookshelf is a must.
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Format: Paperback
It's about so much more than the limits our minds create from standard reviews & categorizations. Shows how to organize your thinking to tackle something new. On the surface, it's a turn of the century survey & application of physical scientific knowledge. On a higher level it communicates how to effectively organize knowledge as a tool & pathway to inner understanding as only the CLASSICS can do. I was required to read it for my Brandeis Ph.D. in Biophysics, but have recommended it to home schoolers as the best single book to inform a teenager about physics, chemistry, biology, & practical thinking. The Latin roots of the title words, Form & Function, are utilized, rather than specialized contemporary jargon.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have had a copy of this book since I was 16. I have given it as gifts, and believe it to be one of the fundamental books that has changed science and the way we think of the world. As you can tell I love this book. However, the Kindle version is almost useless. The tables are not reproduced in any readable way, and there are none of the pictures that are needed to understand the text. eBooks like this do a tremendous disservice to the Kindle. This could be a wonderful resource to have on the Kindle, but no care was taken in the transcription, and to charge for this is an outrage. There is absolutely no way that I could recommend the Kindle version of this wonderful book.
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Format: Paperback
I wish I had read the reviews to this edition before I bought it because I would not have wasted my money. However, my complaint is different from that of the others I have read. The book I received? I literally can't read it. Imagine using a copier to copy the pages of a book, with the "darkness" factor set high. That's what I got. A grey background to every page. There is such poor contrast between the type and the page that it's all just a big wash of grey. What a disappointment. btw there was no publisher listed anywhere on this edition - nor any mention that it was abridged. I suspect it is an Amazonian "on-demand" printing, apparently overseen by a broken robot. I shall search out the unabridged edition elsewhere.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This wonderful book contains in its original form more than a thousand clearly written pages, and over five hundred illustrations. The poor excuse of a book, facsimile copy I got for ~12$ contains less than three hundred pages, and in its black and white printed form (opposed the full color online view) is barely readable. Check the number of pages in the book version offered before you buy !

Amazon should do a better job at separating this inadequate version from the original.

Having paid only <12$, it would be more expensive to return the book than keep it, so I just ordered a different version. I hope this time it would be the appropriate one.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Medium grey print on a light grey background does not offer enough contrast to the human eye for ready recognition. The actual letters of the words appear to have uneven edges to them. Thus this does not qualify as a book, but only as a "book-like object". Alas, it is too small for a doorstep and too large to even up a wobbly set of table legs. Its only useful function in our house is as fireplace kindling...but very expensive kindling at that.

On the last page is an imprint that indicates that this "book" was manufactured after I ordered it. Clearly this is a reconstruction from stored photographic or digital images. I am not against new technology per se, but it should produce a result at least as good as the technology it replaces. This does not.

Another person to offer comments as far back as July, 2011, (Sarah) pointed out this defective presentation of grey on grey, and yet you have been incapable or unwilling to respond to her critique in the two years since it was posted. Do you even read these comments? I ordered a book; instead you sent me an experience of frustration and dismay. I ordered a book; you sent me an optical illusion of a book.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a classic, no two ways about it. It is really the first credible attempt to start taking a quantitative approach to biology, and despite the developments of the past century (molecular biology, etc), the problems raised in this book are just as pressing as they were when thompson wrote it. Anyone working in cell biology nowadays will immediately see applications of the ideas in this book, for example to organelle morphogenesis. The genius and erudition of thompson shine through on every page, making the book inspiring to read.
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