Most helpful positive review
74 of 75 people found the following review helpful
Thorough, clearly written text for college-level biology.
on December 18, 2004
First, just to let you know what perspective I am reviewing this from, I am a college student, and this text was used in my 200-level introductory biology course. Since I am a student, and not a professor or expert of any sort, I am evaluating the book based on how helpful it was to me in learning the material. For input from biology professors, you'll have to take a look at some of the other reviews here.
"Life: The Science of Biology" has definitely been one of the better biology textbooks I've used. The text is well written, with clear explanations and plenty of real-life examples to help you tie small details into the bigger picture. But beware: The information here is incredibly in-depth, so if you're only looking for a basic overview of biology, you may actually want a slightly simpler book, otherwise you may get lost in all the details. It was perfect for my 200-level class, and gave me all the information I needed, but I don't think it would be the ideal text for an introductory biology course. One other reviewer here mentioned that she used this text to teach her AP biology students. I took AP biology in high school (and got a 5 on the exam) and can guarantee you that this text contains far, far more than you would ever need to know to get a perfect score. It's definitely a college level text.
The book has numerous detailed, well-labeled diagrams that are helpful in understanding different processes. In fact, being a rather visual, hands-on learner, I sometimes found the step-by-step diagrams easier to follow than the text itself. There are also plenty of great photographs and other helpful images. At the end of each chapter there is a bare-bones overview of key points you should know, and a self-quiz to help you evaluate your grasp of the material. At the end of the book there is an extensive glossary with definitions of key terms.
Unfortunately, there is one mistake in this book, to be found in chapter 34, "Deuterostomate Animals." On page 674, some text from the previous page is repeated, and this in turn means that part of the section entitled "Primates and the Origin of Humans" is cut off, even ending in mid-sentence. The following page is filled entirely with pictures and diagrams, no text, and then on page 676 where the text starts up again, it skips to the beginning of the next section, entirely leaving out a chunk of information. This is the only place in the book where I found such a problem.
There is a website to accompany this text ([...] I never found it necessary to use the site for my studies, but it may be helpful for some. It contains chapter summaries, animated tutorials, text-related activities, self quizzes, suggestions for further reading, and a glossary of key terms (same as the one found at the back of the book). The book is also supposed to come with a CD-ROM. My school's bookstore was selling the books and CDs separately, and I did not purchase the CD and so cannot evaluate its usefulness. I know I learned everything I needed without it, and I suspect the book and website alone would be sufficient for most students' needs.
Aside from the glitch in chapter 34, mentioned above, I have found nothing to complain about with this book. I will definitely be hanging on to it for future reference, and highly recommend it to anyone needing a detailed, comprehensive biology text. NOTE: This review refers to the 7th edition of this book.