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on September 25, 2015
If you seek to expand your awareness of the science-based origins of life, this book provides an excellent appreciation of some of the most important evolutionary aspects of life at the molecular level. For example, he describes the formation of photosynthetic and non-photosynthetic mechanisms where the sun's energy is captured and stored either as high energy molecules like ATP or carbohydrates in clear terms. Lane also discusses RNA, DNA and how ancient microorganisms united with other cells to form the modern understanding of eukaryotic cells with their mitochondria and plasmids in the case of plant cells. To understand the scientific basis of how life came into being, these processes are among the most important and the sine qua non of life's origins.
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on September 30, 2010
"Life Ascending" by Dr. Nick Lane is a fascinating adventure. I would not recommend it to you as your first book on evolution and probably not as your second or third. However, if you have read enough to somewhat appreciate the role of DNA and genes in evolutionary science, then you will find this book very worth reading. The author is a biochemist and he looks at evolution through a biochemist's eyes. He stops short of introducing structural formulas of organic compounds and focuses more on describing in words, the effects of these chemicals on life processes. In other words, he writes in a popular prose to keep a wider audience interested. Being a chemist myself, but never having taken biochemistry in college, I would have liked to have seen what some of those molecules looked like.

Dr. Lane can reach farther back in time than any author who I have ever read. All living things have a common origin if you go back far enough in time. I never imagined that common traits go so far back as this author has identified. Multi-celled life may have evolved less than one billion years ago. Yet, our origins go back much farther than that. The first chapter entitled,"The Origin of Life" takes you back to the very beginning of life on this planet. He discusses the theories, which have come and gone. He identifies their strengths and weaknesses. Finally, he introduces the theory which he believes is most likely to be true. He delivers a convincing argument for it. The remaining chapters examine: DNA, Photosynthesis, The Complex Cell, Sex, Movement, Sight, Hot Blood, Consciousness, and Death. Each chapter examines the history of research on these topics, evaluates the prevailing theories and finally presents the reader with his favorite and sometimes personal explanation for how evolution worked its magic.

I enjoyed this book immensely! I had previously done a lot of reading on evolutionary topics and wondered if I would be rehashing the same old concepts. I didn't need to worry about that with Dr. Lane. He took me to places I had never been before and made the trip very stimulating.

Ralph D. Hermansen, September 30, 2010
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on June 6, 2016
Back in my day, in Biology classes, there were many questions and no answers. Nick Lane has the gift of making the complex easier to understand. Here, in "Life Ascending", Mr. Lane has given us a peek at new scientific evidence pointing at that old question; "Where Did Life Come From and How Did it Evolve?" This is a must book for the scientific minded.
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on September 25, 2015
I have read several books on the general topic of the origins of life and evolution and this is one of the most useful for someone looking for a well done and thoughtful general introduction. Nick Lane manages to include a lot of hard scientific evidence for his thesis without bogging the book down.
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on September 19, 2017
The book does recount the many extinguishing events in the past and that is very interesting. Maybe there was too much guessing at what might happen in the future and almost no guessing about what might replace the creatures that will be gone.
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on August 24, 2015
This is a book which demands your full attention on each page. Dr Lane has written a dense but very readable book. It does presuppose an educated layman's background in biochemistry and biology. The discussion is not dumbed down. As a person who was blown away by the initial endosymbiosis article by Lynn Margulis back in 1968, and reasonably familiar with scientific advances since then, I found the book a well integrated analysis.
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on April 15, 2014
This is the best book on evolution I have read for years, maybe, decades, possibly ever. Lane's combination of evolution and biochemistry, coupled with original thinking and a wry wit make this a page-turner. The "ten best inventions of evolution" are those that are revolutionary in their impact on the living world, of great importance in the world today, produced by natural selection, i.e., not culture, and "iconic," such as the evolution of the eye. They are presented chronologically, and Lane tells their stories in excellent detail readily accessible to interested readers. I have to admit, though, that I lost many hours of sleep and a few meals as I plowed my way through this great book; and I intend to do it again. Soon.
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on April 25, 2011
I first was introduced to Nick Lane through his book Power, Sex, and Suicide. It knocked me over. I'd studied molecular biology and biochemistry at UC San Diego, as a lay person, and his book is what I'd always been looking for. It was so good, I ordered his book on oxygen.
I've been encouraging the Folio Society to publish him, they have Dawkins.

Needless to say I keep my eyes out for anything written by Dr. Lane. But Life Ascending is the best yet. It does require some background in molecular biology to fully appreciate, but it explains, finally, how life could have evolved in an inanimate world.

Nick Lane has been added to the list of Peter D. Ward and Richard Dawkins as always buy all new publications.

My wife and I joke about throwing a dinner party to which we would invite special guests, like Dawkins, Einstein, Darwin, Russell, Whitehead, etc. Nick Lane is on the quest list.
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on August 17, 2015
Extremely well written and READABLE. Expounds a very reasonable hypothesis for the origins of life ( given what is known today) and its evolution- a hobbyist interest of mine for over 50 years. The sections on energetics, and the genesis of life hypothesis are particularly engrossing, but, if you like the life sciences, the entire book will keep you rivetted. I have recommended this book to several friends and colleagues, and they have all very much enjoyed it.
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on September 30, 2017
The first chapter is worth the price of this book. Very good read.
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