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Life Explained (An Editions Odile Jacob Book) Paperback – November 24, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0300158502 ISBN-10: 0300158505

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Product Details

  • Series: An Editions Odile Jacob Book
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (November 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300158505
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300158502
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,316,257 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this seamless translation, author and French biology professor Morange (The Misunderstood Gene) addresses the question "What is life?" by looking at answers from Aristotle to the atomic age and "bringing out the various points of agreement and contradiction hidden among them." After addressing definitions of life proposed by others, Morange outlines "three essential characteristics" of life: reproductive ability, complex molecular structures and the metabolic replication of those structures. From there, Morange discusses a range of current inquiries, among them astrobiology research, genome studies and adaptation in extreme conditions. An informative and engaging tour of life, and our understanding of it, as a process "perpetually being transformed," this title should appeal to the more serious of armchair philosopher-scientists.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“Morange approaches the question ‘what is life’ thoughtfully and with an open mind. He accepts what seems sensible and rejects that which is overblown or confusing.”—William C. Summers, Yale University
(William C. Summers)

“This book is remarkable for the clarity and soundness of its arguments, the fair and balanced way in which it presents controversial positions, and its unique capacity to map out unresolved questions.”—Bruno J. Strasser, Yale University
(Bruno J. Strasser)

"I won't give away Morange's thoughtful and persuasive payoff, but his demand that children undergo compulsory education in philosophy of science is energising."—The Guardian
(The Guardian 2009-01-03)

Winner of the French-American Foundation Translation Prize in the category of non-fiction, given by the French-American Foundation and the Florence Gould Foundation.
(French-American Foundation Annual Translation Prize French-American Foundation and the Florence Gould Foundation 2009-04-27)

"This translation from the 2003 French release outlines in an easy-to-read style the deep issue of the nature of life. . . . Morange is at ease in getting across the historical, philosophical, and biological nuances of the long search for essential features that allow us to define life or living. . . . Recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates, technical program students, and general readers."—Choice
(Choice 2009-04-01)

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Richard C. Sha on July 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book. It asks why the issue of life has recently once again become useful to biology and it pokes holes in the myriad ways in which biologists have thought they have solved the problem of life. It is crisply written and fairly easy to understand even to the non-specialist.
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2 of 17 people found the following review helpful By K. Christie on June 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was premed. Majored in Chemistry. Appreciate all related topics, and have read extensively. Couldn't appreciate this. Boring. Never finished it.
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