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Showing 1-10 of 32 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 35 reviews
on November 10, 2012
This work is intended as a college textbook, and so perhaps not the best choice for a general audience. For readers primarily looking for a highly credible, accessible, and well-written overview of evolutionary theory, I'd recommend Zimmer's earlier Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea or his The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution. Likewise, if you're not sure why evolutionary theory is established and respected science, and so you want the case against the "controversy," I would bump Jerry Coyne's Why Evolution Is True to the top of the list.

As a college textbook, however, Evolution: Making Sense of Life succeeds wonderfully in the following aspects.

The science it presents is both current and balanced. Recent work - and controversies - in the field are covered. But the text makes clear what has been widely accepted as valid science. What is new and promising, and seems well on its way to becoming valid, established science. And what is currently speculative or highly contentious. Both Douglas J. Emlen, the scientist, and Carl Zimmer, the science writer, do their best to avoid bias. And unlike too much of popular science writing, Evolution: Making Sense of Life is free of rant, polemic, and grandiose speculation.

The text is beautifully and extensively illustrated. The graphical representations of data and processes actually make sense. Colorful, accessible, coherent. The other images - including numerous photos - have been carefully chosen for content and context. And many of images are simply beautiful. For the visual display of information alone, this text is a winner.

The writing itself seems to me about as good as one gets for a college textbook. The authors use story-lines to introduce key concepts and developments. Their examples are well-chosen. Once the first two chapters are cleared, "The Virus and Whale: How Scientists Study Evolution" and "Biology: From Natural Philosophy to Darwin", the authors begin introducing more technical information and detail. This doesn't become a problem, however, because in each chapter the general concepts and context are established first. Likewise, the overall organization of the book is well thought-out and executed. All in all, a solid testimony to Zimmer's exemplary skill as a science writer - as well as no doubt Emlen's own considerable abilities to organize and present information. (I know Zimmer's work; Emlen is new to me).

Because I found Evolution: Making Sense of Life so well done in both the details and overall, I'm hoping it becomes a standard text for undergraduates - and perhaps even advanced high school students.

If you're someone who enjoys science writing, and perhaps have already read Zimmer's other work, Coyne's book, that of Dawkins, Shubin, Carroll, and others, you might want to consider adding Evolution: Making Sense of Life to your personal library anyway - the price being the primary objection. Unlike many popular science explanations of evolutionary theory, Zimmer and Emlen here provide a comprehensive general overview while avoiding taking sides in current debates, or making grandiose claims beyond what the current science supports. It's also always good to know some of basic quantitative thinking involved with evolutionary theory, including the basic models for population genetics. Here Zimmer and Emlen do a great job in translating the mathematical logic - daunting for many people - into more familiar concepts.

Bottom line: Evolution: Making Sense of Life is both a pleasure to read and look at, and may well set the new standard for a introductory college textbook in evolutionary biology.
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on August 18, 2016
I am grateful and thankful Professor Lahti switches to this textbook (2012) in this semester (Fall 2016). I was reading the other textbook which is also nice but not as enjoyable as this one. The truth is that the subject of evolution is not an easy task for an ESL, especially someone has ADD. And yet authors put so much effort on using simple English and ample of examples to illustrate the mathematical models (in boxes) which I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Although some of the chapters I have to reread two to three times or spend days to grab the ideas, I do learn many statistical models and genetic concepts which I only have some basic knowledge. One thing I have to mention. It seems like authors really like fry. Whenever he mentions about fishes, he is always talking about fry which make me very hungry :)

BTW, make sure if you purchase a second handbook don't choose Amazon Marketplace, there is a 6 to 7 inches cut on the back of the book. I wrote them feedback of it, they have no response whatsoever.
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on November 1, 2015
This book has served me well for studying for my evolution class! Bought it used and is in fantastic condition! Overall a great book and much cheaper than the second edition, but with most of the content!
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on March 4, 2014
I have bought this book last year as a requirement for a graduate level evolution class and this book has been one of the most interesting books I have read. It gives clear illustrations, and explains science at work when it comes to discoveries of evolution. Another perk to this text book were the boxes that answered questions and had advice for skeptical people and critics of evolution.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone. Even people who want to just learn a little bit more on evolution. It is an easy read, and I can enjoy reading chapter after chapter. You don't get that in most text books.
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on September 28, 2014
Really simple book to read and refer back too. It helped me clarify any misunderstandings or gaps in my evolution lecture notes. It helps that the text isn't dense like many other textbooks and the way the authors write is actually engaging.
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on January 5, 2017
I have very mixed feelings about Evolution. Kudus for defining each new term, often with the definition repeated in the margin. The text is well illustrated. Most importantly is all of the current information. A great distraction, however, is the colloquial writing, often degenerating into a folksy chat. Too often, sentences end with prepositions, something not tolerated in a freshman writing class!
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on May 11, 2014
This textbook reads like a novel while laying out vital concepts of the theory in a very clear and concise way. Everything one needs to know about evolution, this book is a summation of the current state of the theory of evolution by natural selection, supported by the finest scientists of their fields.
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on October 2, 2016
What I needed for class. Easy to understand.
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on November 24, 2016
I received an older edition
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on September 12, 2016
Not the same version!
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