- Audible Audio Edition
- Listening Length: 12 hours and 17 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Audible Studios
- Audible.com Release Date: July 27, 2010
- Whispersync for Voice: Ready
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003XJL0R2
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank:
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The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time Audiobook – Unabridged
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In my mind this book goes together with a book I read some time ago and remember often, but can't quite name. Perhaps it's _Survival of the Sickest_ but I can't get that on Kindle to check my memory.
Anyhow - one for medicine and one more generally for the way we inhabit the planet and especially the way we grow our food - both of these books convincingly send up much conventional wisdom as mediated by powerful corporate structures with profit as a motive for understanding.
For neither of these books is that the authors' aim. This particular book has become a classic on evolutionary theory, mostly because of how throughly its author documents his comprehensive survey of the field. Dissonance with general understanding (of medicine or of evolution more generally to account for both books) falls out from that documentation.
This book continues to resonate because there remains hope by its end that it is because our human designs are so much deficient in the face of the greater forces of ever-evolving life on the planet, that those designs will be subsumed by something more alive.
The hint is that this will depend on our own continued evolution as well. That there is something beyond consciousness and cognitive power in store for the planet, and that we are locking ourselves away from it by our only temporary but terminal for the species as we are, dominance. Pride our downfall, but also our hope, as it promises to destroy our destruction.
Blessed be the meek who feel the strains of evolution more than the pride of arrival.
Anyhow, this book still makes a terrific refresher on the principles of evolutionary theory. I'd wanted a different book to document recent discoveries regarding the heritability of acquired characteristics. Some kind of folding of the DNA. I'll keep looking. Because I retain hope for the flowers.
While fascinating and well-written, I must admit that there were parts that were a bit dry and you really have to love this subject to get all the way through the book. Probably the best part is Weiner's explanation for why the finches' beaks are so crucial to their survival: their primary food source is a tiny, rock-hard seed. There is also a very funny passage on how the Grants discovered what male finches find sexually attractive.
A pleasant and engrossing read for the serious or semi-serious naturalist. Recommended for those who enjoyed Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World.
This is a book for the scientifically-literate reader. An understanding of the scientific process is important to grasping the book. The degree of detail may be daunting. But considering those caveats, this book describes a truly beautiful chapter in the story of biology.