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The Discovery of Evolution, 2nd Edition Paperback – August 9, 2007

ISBN-13: 978-0521687461 ISBN-10: 0521687462 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2nd edition (August 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521687462
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521687461
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #670,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Review of the hardback: 'Young's lavishly-illustrated, well-designed, and clearly-written account of evolution deserves wide general readership, and provides a coherent panorama for students.' Journal of Biological Education

Review of the hardback: 'I recommend this fascinating and well-written book, which will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in the natural world.' IBIS

Review of the hardback: 'Young's The Discovery of Evolution leads the reader into the deep history of evolutionary ideas, from the 17th century through Darwinism, tracking the contributions of geology, natural history, classification, and genetics along the way. It provides students with a rich background to appreciate contemporary biological ideas and disputes in an accessible and beautifully illustrated book.' Sandra D. Mitchell, Professor and Chair, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh

Review of the hardback: 'The Discovery of Evolution is a superbly accessible, reliable and visually appealing introduction to the history of evolutionary theory. Covering the advances in geology, natural history and palaeontology in the decades before Darwin discovered the principle of natural selection in late 1838, it also examines the obstacles to evolutionist thought in the 1800s, the empirical observations that led Darwin and Wallace to their historic insights, and the brilliant scientific work of the twentieth century that demonstrated the validity of Darwin's evolutionary theory. The book is well-written and presented, but perhaps its chief merit is the sheer quality and quantity of the images which make the ideas it explains so much more comprehensible and the story told richly evocative.' John C. Waller, Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Melbourne

Review of the hardback: 'Reading the history of evolutionary biology is one of the best ways to understand what evolution is and what it means for understanding our place in the world. The Discovery of Evolution, beautifully illustrated with contemporary pictures and documents, shows how the theory of evolution provided a single, elegant and convincing answer to a myriad of biological questions. Taking the reader from Aristotle to Darwin to Hamilton and beyond, this book is an accessible introduction to the development of evolutionary biology, and should be read by anyone interested in how this revolutionary idea changed the way we think about the world around us.' Lindell Bromham, School of Botany and Zoology, Australian National University

'It is written by a talented specialist from Australia, who tells amazing stories about evolutionary developments in the natural sciences. ... Young is [an] inspired writer who [has given] us an outstanding possibility to learn the history of ... evolutionary knowledge and to feel those incredible efforts applied to obtain its framework ... Reading this book will be a great pleasure for every specialist in the bio- and geosciences as well as for all amateurs ...' Phylogenie und Evolution

Book Description

Originally published in 2007, The Discovery of Evolution explains what the theory of evolution is all about by providing a historical narrative of discovery. Some of the major puzzles that confront anyone studying living things are discussed and it details how these were solved from an evolutionary perspective.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Occasional Reviewer on April 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
David Young's book is the best general history of evolutionary thought that I've read. The book can be used as an introduction, but it is informed by immense scholarship and a deep understanding of its subject. After reading other histories, I keep coming back to Young for clarification. His central merit is that he demonstrates the inner logic in the theories of previous ages. He makes it clear why such theories seemed plausible at the time, in the light of available evidence, and further, he reveals what is in fact generally valid in ideas that we now often regard as merely quaint and obsolete. If one reads Lyell and Darwin on their predecessors, one has the impression that these predecessors were often ridiculously mistaken. Lyell and Darwin are naturally intent on the promulgation of their own particular theories, theories defined by contrast with those of the predecessors. Young demonstrates the ways in which the predecessors built up, bit by bit, the whole set of ideas and observations that made Lyell and Darwin possible. The exposition of post-Darwinian evolutionary thought is similarly lucid and sympathetic. One secret of Young's insight is suggested in his title, "the discovery of evolution." He regards evolution as a reality, not merely as a "paradigm," much less as a set of ideological constructs. The protagonists of his narrative are animated by the spirit of discovery. They are on a collective quest, and the stages of their quest are the observations they make and the explanations that make sense of their observations. Young has the great historian's gift for presenting the motives and actions of individuals separated by time and space as parts of an integrated sequence-a single narrative action.Read more ›
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By David J. Krause on October 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
I agree completely with the first reviewer. A particularly strong part of Young's analysis is his clear understanding of the nature of science and how theories function in making the world comprehensible. This would be a wonderful book for anyone who, although tempted by the claims of so-called "scientific creationism," is nevertheless willing to objectively examine the reasons evolution is the overwhelming choice of scientists who are trying to understanding the development of life on earth.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Matt Cartmill on April 25, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have read dozens of histories of the rise and coalescence of evolutionary thought, but this is by far the best. Young deals with each major figure in his history with sympathy and insight, showing how each made a significant advance over some aspect of previous thinking and contributed to the growth of our knowledge and understanding. I had never understood the context and importance of some of these scientists before. Before I read this book, I didn't really grasp what was meant by the Whig theory of history, or why it was a bad thing. Now I do. There are no villains or numbskulls in this history -- only thoughtful people trying their best to deal honestly with difficult issues, and always succeeding to some degree. The well-reproduced and thoughtfully chosen illustrations, all from important original sources, add powerfully to the visual appeal and historical fidelity of the presentation. Anybody interested in the historical trajectory of the idea and theory of evolution should start with this excellent and eminently readable book.
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