The gene that causes humans to form arms and legs is the same gene that causes birds and insects to form wings, and fish to form fins; similarly, one ancient gene has led to the creation of eyes across the animal kingdom. Changes in the way this ancient tool kit of genes is used have created all the diversity that surrounds us.
Sean Carroll is the ideal author to lead the curious on this intellectual adventure--he is the acknowledged leader of the field, and his seminal discoveries have been featured in Time and The New York Times".
©2009 Sean B Carroll; (P)2009 Brilliance Audio, Inc.
This is a book that requires close attention and a good working knowledge of genetic terms. It may be frustrating or just plain too difficult for those not versed in at least the basics of genetics, developmental biology, especially some basic embryology, and modern evolutionary theory. The specialist's terms come fast and furious in spite of a very able narrator. If you are hopelessly lost when someone says "homeotic Hox gene" then perhaps easing into this topic would be better than trying to listen to this book, or at least have the Wikipedia handy and be prepared to stop and do a lot of term checking. For the experienced student it is outstanding. Even for the uninitiated generalist, however, the final chapters on human evolution and evolutionary science vs. fundamentalist ignorance are outstanding.
I love audio books, but this one should be read in print. The narrator is fine. It is just too hard to visualize while doing anything else. And if you're not doing anything else, why not read a book? There may be important diagrams, I don't know. Tantor audio books refer you to their web site for visuals. Not this one.
As for the science and thought, could not be better. Great work by a fine scientist about a critically important branch of biology.
As a professional biologist, I enjoyed the book very much. But, and this is a big but, if you don't know any developmental biology I'm afraid you'll get lost. I checked the hard copy out of the library so I could see the pictures. My advice is to borrow the book and look while you listen.
I am not a biologist and I had only a passing familiarity with evo-devo in my head -- but I still found this book intensely engrossing and readable. You have to really pay attention and learn the terminology as you go (i.e. not necessarily a good read in the car because I think you may need to rewind & re-listen quite a bit -- I listened to it while hiking and had my Ipod in my hand the whole time) because the narrative builds heavily upon early information rather steadily throughout the book. Perhaps you have heard the term evo-devo before, or epigenetics, or read something about HOX, or toolkit, genes. Perhaps you also found other titles on evolution good reads -- like "Why Evolution is True" (Coyne) and "Greatest Show on Earth" (Dawkins) -- but their material was a bit too basic for you. Then, I think this book is a great "next step" on the topic of Evolutionary theory for the layman. It may not be quite the "casual read" that the Coyne and Dawkins books were, but, if you want a readable introduction to evo-devo, I think Carroll did a wonderful job at introducing the topic to the non-professional in this book. I loved it.
After enjoying to all of Sean Carroll's audio books, this is my least favorite. It's not a book where you try to catch every detail that the author is communicating, but listen for the general conclusion.
One of the best books written in the history of time. Clearly demonstrates how evolution works. You will never think about the switches that turn genes on in the same way again.
This is a great book, with a very important topic. I rated Sean Carroll's other book, Making of the Fittest, a 5 and this a 4, only because it isn't quite as well organized. I wish 4.5 was an option. This is well worth the time, and critical if you want to understand evolution.
Carroll's other books on Audible ("Remarkable Creatures" and "The Making of the Fittest") were well produced audio books. This one is not. Although not quite monotonous, the reader lacks adequate inflection to bring this text alive. Consequently, it loses the zest that the text should otherwise evoke. If you like Carroll's other works, then give this a go, but only if you can withstand a lackluster production.
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