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David F. Prindle (Austin, TX) is the author of The Paradox of Democratic Capitalism: Politics and Economics in American Thought, among other books and articles. He is professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.
A book of 217 text pages is not enough to do complete justice to the work of Harvard University evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who died in 2002. This book, by political scientist David Prindle is an excellent start. Prindle limits his investigation to the political connections of Gould's evolutionary work and views, and thus keeps things manageable. As a political scientist, Prindle had a lot of catching up to do to make himself familiar, not just with Gould's work, but with evolutionary biology on a quite detailed level. Without that background, he could not have written this book. This is not an elementary text. Prindle doesn't cover everything, but what he covers is done well. He shows that Gould was not always consistent in his views and he does not hesitate to come down on Gould's side, or on the other, when there seems to be a clear choice to be made on one issue or the other. Chapters are extensively footnoted and the book is very well written, with no typos that I recall.
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Harvard paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould was America's best-known natural scientist until his death in 2002, producing monthly essays in a popular natural history publication and winning awards for his books. Most books about Gould cover his science: David F. Prindle's STEPHEN JAY GOULD AND THE POLITICS OF EVOLUTION is the first to be written about his political connections and how they influenced his science career, and provide a fine survey of how Gould's mind worked along both scientific and political paths. A top pick for any interested in Gould's approaches and their origins.
Why I am giving three stars to this book I may myself not know. Perhaps because it is so outlandishly biased, both scientifically and politically, that it amounts more to hilarious entertainment than to the subject of criticism meriting low evaluation.
One may begin with politics, which the author is in the book's title concerned with as regards Stephen Jay Gould. But aside from Gould's "politics of evolution", the book's author has his own sympathetic stance as (p.118) a "leftist" opposed to "existing political inequalities", held fostered by the "right-wing", whose "journalists...justify patriarchy, or sexism, or racism, or capitalism...". I have watched Fox News and listened to Rush Limbaugh, these considered paragons of the right-wing, and I have never heard them fostering political inequalities and the other particulars except for defending capitalism. The hate of capitalism, the system found today greatly beneficial for public prosperity, went out with the demise of Marxism, with not even Ralph Nader attacking it, reserving his displeasure for "corporations" instead. The preceding thus illustrates the author's severe bias, which seems to lack a hint of objectivity.
He correspondingly also uses as cusswords the terms "conservative" and "creationist", the latter appearing as the designation he applies to everyone opposed to Darwinism. They include proponents of "intelligent design", whom he characterizes alongside others as (p.37) "apostles of irrationality...in their efforts to insert the teaching of superstition into American public schools", as (p.46) "imposters" promoting "pseudosciences", as (p.184) "Barbarians at the Gates", as (p.Read more ›