I debated whether to give this book 3 or 4 stars. I used to be a 7th grade science teacher, and I found it telling me a lot of things I already knew. A previous reviewer mentioned that s/he is currently a science teacher and that this book provides excellent material to be adapted to the course s/he teaches. I would agree.
So if it's been a few years since you last studied evolution or if you didn't pay much attention in your high school biology class, this would probably be an excellent place for you to start. However, if you are an evolution enthusiast, maybe took some classes on it in college, have read other books on evolution, then this book may be too elementary for you. I also just finished reading "Before the Dawn" and I would recommend that to you as a great book with more in-depth information on human evolution.
Both of us tried to listen to it and it was soooooo slow that it put us to sleep. We did not even make it half way through before we gave up.
I listened to this, The Greatest Show on Earth, and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin last year. They're all good but I found this one most interesting from a science perspective. I have a degree in zoology and know a lot about evolution but looking at things at the level of DNA was novel to me and I really learned a lot. The author makes a convincing case in the book's closing chapters that conserving the world's wildlife, specifically ocean fisheries, depends upon a wide-spread acceptance of evolution as the fundamental concept in biology. I have recommended this to friends and I'll recommend it to you, too, if the basic description of the book sounds interesting at all to you (I grant you it's not for everyone).
I really enjoyed the book. A little dry and technical, since I had to replay certain parts in order to understand or sync in. A very good book that explains how evolution works based on proven facts. Very enlightening.
If you are a realist and enjoy science, then I highly recommend this book.
Expect a monotonous narration. Don't be surprised if the narrator sounds like a New Yorker with a cold. I can't speak for the quality of this book in print version. With little change in inflection, no pauses between sections, and little emphasis of discrete points, I eventually gave up the struggle of trying to decipher the arguments in this book, despite some teasing ancedotes of biodiversity.
The phrase "Use it or Lose it" takes on a much greater meaning in this highly detailed but extremely readable discussion of evolutionary genetics.
Making of the Fittess compared the molecular structure of light sensitive proteins (opsins} in the retina of the eyes of animal that lived in different types of light conditions and then examine the differences in the genes that allow animals to detect a particular wave lenght or color of light illustrating how natural selection works. When there was no advantages for an animal to see a particular color, the gene responsible was not used and eventually became inactive and that type of opsin was not produced. These inactive genes bcome non-functional and Carroll term these genes "fossil genes" which remained in the geome until eventually being lost to the organism. So "used it or lose it" acutally applies to the inactive gene. The type of light environment the animal lives in determines the type of light sensitive proteins (opsins) it has illustrating how natural selection works. Knowing the type of "fossil genes" of opsin allow you determine evolutionary relationships. It been awhile since they discovered the change in the gene that lead to Sickle Cell Anemia but "Making of The Fittess" allows us to examine many new specific changes in genes and how these changes lead to making of the fittess.
Among the best.
Clear and understandable to a layman like me.
Never heard him before but his reading is exellent!
No. I listen upon retiring each night and upon waking a few times. No problem; I simply use my MP3 sleep timer and repeat parts as often as necessary until I've heard it all.
Sean B. Carroll is an excellent biologist and geneticist with a great gift for making his subjects understood by laymen. I listen to books in order to fall asleep (repeatedly) at night. Carroll???s charts and graphs are available on line but they???re not convenient for my purpose. However, the book is fascinating nevertheless. Carroll traces certain effects back to their genetic origins and describes genes that persist through evolution in species after species. This is a very interesting and understandable story told by an expert geneticist and storyteller.
Eh. 2.5 stars, but I'll round up to three because it was enjoyable enough that I made it through the whole thing without getting TOO bored or annoyed.
But first of all, dangit! How did I get stuck with another audiobook narrated by Patrick Lawlor? I meant to avoid him from now on after his reading of Buddy Levy's Conquistador; at least he didn't have any Spanish to butcher this time. I'm sure he's a very nice man, but I have a really hard time with his accent. I just do. However, I did actually manage to make it all the way through his reading of this book, so yay me!
As to the book itself, I found it in turns pretty interesting and pretty frustrating. I really enjoyed the parts about the evolution of the eye, but most of the other examples Carroll uses I have seen documented much more thoroughly in other books, so those parts had less appeal for me. I imagine folks that haven't read or heard about them before will enjoy them much more than I did. I also felt like at times Carroll got pretty repetetive, and his habit of ending every chapter with something like, "in the next chapter, I'll talk about so-and-so..." really got on my nerves. I don't really need you to tell me what you're going to start talking about on the next page--just move along and talk about it already! It felt kind of...I don't know. Amateurish? I didn't like it, whatever it felt like. And then the chapter about intelligent design seemed really unnecessary to me. I get the idea that he's trying to convert people from intelligent design to believing in evolution with the power of his arguments or whatever, but (a) how many people that believe in intelligent design are really reading this in the first place? And (b) it seemed kind of disrespectful, although I do at least appreciate his making the point that not ALL people who believe in God feel that the theory of evolution is antithetical to their faith. I just feel like it would have been a much better book without that entire section.
I know I sound pretty crotchety about this one, but it's not bad. I guess I do think there are better books on this topic out there though. On the other hand, plenty of folks seem to have really liked this one a lot, so maybe that's just me.
This book was very interesting without turning into a science text book. He used good examples to express his points and I walked away with great trivia on the subject matter. I also enjoyed his arguments for evolution vs. creationism. The narrator had voice that was kind of nasally but I was able to deal with it. I would preview it before buying just in case.
A nearly convincing case for Darwinistic evolution is well presented. The story of evolution thru DNA mutation is fascinating. I have never studied this directly but knew about 1/2 from medical school in the early 90's; it seems the evidence/knowledge has at least doubled in a decade.
Problems: 1. a century ago, a theory competed with DNA mutation which has been discredited but I think is making a partial comeback (mentioned briefly near the book end with the Russian scientist). It involves traits of parents that they acquired during their life getting passed to progeny. Since this can't involve DNA changes as parent germ cell DNA is already cast, this doesn't fit with "Darwinism". EPIGENETICS is the latest concept. Vaguely, changing gene expression without changing DNA sequence can alter the phenotype of the individual and it seems that how an organism lives can change proteins in their sperm or egg and pass along "learned" traits.
2. Behe has a similar book in the Audible library where he makes a case for Intelligent Design. Most (but not all) of that is controverted well here. Both authors agree that random point mutations are mostly entropic or destructive and short-sited. Behe can't see how complex protein structures ("toolbox" genes) could possibly evolve with only this mechanism. There is not a good answer for this, Carroll implies that added opportunity for bigger changes occur with gene duplications and the complexities of promoters and complex switching. (And I would add that the 97% or so of our DNA that is non-coding for proteins or "junk" makes a great workshop for new genes to accidentally occur). But, science has not been able to work back to early evolution and describe in any way where the toolbox genes, with perhaps 5 to 15 major protein complexes interacting in a positive way, came about. Panspermia or Intelligent Design cannot yet be ruled out. Carroll's proposition that simple random DNA mutations are fully adequate to support all evolutionary changes from the beginning is not completely proven in my mind and I fully expect other mechanisms to be elucidated in the next 1-2 decades.
Evolution thru DNA mutation, "survival of the fittest", and common ancestry are about as well proven as gravity and the roundness of the earth. It hardly seems necessary to write such an elaborate book to demonstrate this. But, just as Einstein's relativistic physics updated Newtonian, I think there are important subtleties yet to be discovered.
I would love it if Carroll updated his book. A lot has been learned already in the last 4-5 years which further illuminates the mechanisms of evolution.
Another observation: If you are not familiar with genetics, the audible version of this will be very hard to follow. Diagrams help tremendously (so get the book instead or get online).