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The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution Hardcover – October 15, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0981519470 ISBN-10: 0981519474 Edition: 1st Edition

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Roberts and Company Publishers; 1st Edition edition (October 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981519474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981519470
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 7.7 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"The Tangled Bank is the best written and best illustrated introduction to evolution of the Darwin centennial decade, and also the most conversant with ongoing research. It is excellent for students, the general public, and even other biologists." —Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University, and author of Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

"The best textbook I’ve seen for a non-majors introductory biology course about evolution.... The Tangled Bank is well-produced, up-to-date, readable, and exceptionally well illustrated. At no point does it falter." —Randy Moore, CBE—Life Sciences Education Book Review

"Zimmer describes the processes and patterns of evolution admirably, using his flair with language and substantial knowledge of biology—the latter aided by four scientific advisers, who have advised him well. Zimmer has a gift for finding just the right example to fascinate the reader, encouraging him or her to want to read on and learn more. The book is astoundingly well illustrated; it could serve as a coffee-table book as well as an up-to-date introduction to the changing ways in which evolution has been and is being studied. The inclusion of selected readings allows entry into the primary literature. A book to both browse and read in depth." —CHOICE (by B. K. Hall, Dalhousie University)

About the Author

Carl Zimmer is one of the country's leading science writers. A regular contributor to the New York Times and magazines like Scientific American and Discover, he is the author of six books, including Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea and Microcosm: E. coli and the New Science of Life. He has won numerous awards from institutions including the National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Institute of Biological Sciences.

More About the Author

I write books about science. Nature fascinates me, as does its history.

So far, I've written twelve books, including Parasite Rex and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution. In addition to my books, I also write regularly about science for The New York Times, as well as for magazines including National Geographic and Wired. I've won awards for my work from the National Academies of Science and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. My blog, The Loom, is published by National Geographic Magazine (http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/blog/the-loom).

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Final note: The cover is great.
This is a great supplement to my class and the students love reading it.
Audrey Sherry
The writing and illustrations are first-rate.
Wayne Mones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Michael Heath VINE VOICE on December 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tangled Bank distinguishes itself amongst a heady group of recent publications as a masterpiece of science writing, publishing, instruction, and as a reference book. It has immediately become one of the books in my library that I most treasure.

2009 was a great year for students and supporters of science, especially those that study evolution given it's the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin's 1st edition of The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition. The year was celebrated partly by several practicing scientists publishing excellent books about evolution directed towards the general reader, nearly all of which were complementary rather than redundant. Having read seven books covering evolution this year, and several that were published just prior to 2009, it's my position that Tangled Bank stands above the rest of the herd, in spite the others also being very worthy of consideration.

Not only is Tangled Bank a great book on evolution on your first read, but it is structured in a way that allows it be used as an extremely valuable reference source. At 9.75 inches tall by 5.5 inches wide, it's large enough to provide ample space on its pages which are filled with beautiful color illustrations, color photos, and other color graphics that greatly help reinforce the subject matter. The quality of the cover and the paper is also first rate so it should be able to sustain a long usable life.

While Tangled Bank is being described as a textbook, it's important to distinguish how Tangled Bank is different from the stereotypical textbook.
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42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Michael on November 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Truly a beautiful book...the numerous illustrations are colorful and bright, and they make you want to look closer and really learn and appreciate the details of evolution and life's history.

I've decided that Zimmer and Dawkins (Richard) are certainly my favorite evolution writers. But Zimmer's books tend to be [just a] little more appealing to me the way the material visually comes alive as compared to Dawkins' books.

I have my own little library of science, biology, and evolution books, and I could not image my collection being complete without this book now. It's a must-have.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As far as textbooks go, The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution is a pretty good one. Visually, it has a lot of great charts, pictures, and cladograms. It is a fun textbook in that sense. The text is well written and accessible to a wide audience, which was Carl Zimmer's goal. If you know absolutely nothing about evolution, I would definitely recommend this as a start.

However, The Tangled Bank really is an introduction. This same accessibility also makes the text a bit too basic for more advanced readers. If you've read, say, Nick Lane's Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution or Why Evolution Is True, you might find The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution boring or repetitive. If you haven't, you've got a lot to look forward to with The Tangled Bank.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Greg VINE VOICE on January 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover
With Zimmer providing the text, I knew this book was going to engagingly written and up-to-date with cutting-edge evolutionary discoveries, and the words do not disappoint. In a series of extraordinary science books written for popular audiences, including "At the Water's Edge" and "Parasite Rex," it is difficult to pick a "magnum opus," but this is Zimmer's most comprehensive, extensive, nearly exhaustive work, and welcome addition to his corpus.

The thing that makes this book--which has all the strengths of a textbook in terms of organization, explanation, and examples, but few of the weaknesses such as stodginess, condescension, or reliance on jargon--among the most valuable on evolution is the perfect combination of verbal explanation and top-notch illustration. This is a richly, lavishly illustrated book, and when it comes to evolution, seeing really is believing. As brilliant as Darwin's output was, it contained only one illustration--a paltry little bush-looking thing representing the "tree of life," with the caption, "I think..." In "Tangled," virtually every page is a riot of graphics representing genes, photos of fossils, charts comparing homologies, and so forth. And all is stitched together by Zimmer's confident, conversational prose.

I hope that there are plans to release this book as a less expensive soft cover book in the future. As crucial as "Tangled" will be to libraries and high school biology classes, it should be accessible to more interested laypersons, and if the book has a single weakness, it is its cost. I'm not saying the expense isn't justified--it's still a pretty good value considering what you get.
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