James A. Shapiro's Evolution: A View from the 21st Century proposes an important new paradigm for understanding biological evolution. Shapiro demonstrates why traditional views of evolution are inadequate to explain the latest evidence, and presents a compelling alternative. His information and systems-based approach integrates advances in symbiogenesis, epigenetics, and mobile genetic elements, and points toward an emerging synthesis of physical, information, and biological sciences.
©2011 James A. Shapiro (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Shapiro has written a stimulating, innovative manuscript that surely Darwin would have liked." (Sidney Altman, Yale University; Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, 1989)
"Based on a long and highly competent personal experience in science and his novel insights into biological functions, the author has reached views of biological evolution that can reveal to a wide, interested readership how the living world co-evolves with the environment through its intrinsic powers." (Werner Arber, Professor Emeritus, University of Basel, Switzerland; Nobel Laureate in Physiology/Medicine, 1978)
While I do not blame the author or reader, I cannot recommend this work, except for students wishing to review new topics in molecular biology. The book is unrelievedly technical and while the reader drones on manfully it is more or less impossible to make it anything but monotonous. The information is there, but very hard to retain. Sorry, this just isn't a book for popular audiences or an audio format. I hope that any listener who did get something out of it will write in with a countervailing opinion. I am a third of the way through and tempted to bail.
I will be listening to this more than once, as there is a lot of information in here.
Finally a description of evolutionary biology that take into account the last 20 years of advances in biological research.
An enjoyable voice for sure. However, the real benefit for me was being able to perform menial tasks while listening.
My reaction was largely relief that the field of evolutionary biology may be moving in a direction where it will finally incorporate recent advances in molecular biology.
As an audiobook the content may be a little difficult for those without a background in biology, however a lot of additional content is available on his website. If you are interested in evolutionary biology it is worth the effort of understanding the information in this book. I think far too many people learn about evolutionary biology from authors like Gould and Dawkins only because it is easy and not because it best represents our current understanding of biology.
Ira Rosenberg does his best with this very technical material, but too often he doesn't understand the point of what he's reading so he places the emphasis on the wrong word or phrase, which makes the material even harder to follow.
This is a very technical book. Even if you know some molecular biology, you are likely to find this a difficult listen. It really is much more suited to being read than listened to, and even then it's challenging. A sample, selected at random: "LINE retrotransposons typically are a few thousand base pairs in length, contain internal transcription signals for RNA polymerase II, and encode two proteins involved in reverse transcription. The SINE elements are shorter (typically 100 to 300 base pairs in length), related in sequence to stable cell RNAs (tRNAs, short rRNAs, and protein export particle 7S RNA), and contain an internal RNA polymerase III promoter." It goes on like that, detail after detail, page after page. Taking it in by listening is very hard work.
It's an important book, but be warned: this is not a treatment aimed at general readers. It's aimed at specialists.
If we agree to define Evolution as the measurable change in the genetic form and function over generations, then this book offers evidence to be considered for many more biological processes and mechanisms to make such changes, beyond the occasional mistaken or broken nucleotide. Comprehensive overview of recent biological scientific literature, weaved into a compelling set of conclusions, considering evo, devo enviro. Describing details through various creatures, some of these bio-chemical processes are found again and again, become like old friends. Many patterns are well described, and related to Evolutionary process. I admit I occasionally chose to stop and do some refresher biochemistry reading and relisten to some paragraphs, but found attention to idea development worthwhile throughout. This was not light reading for me. This book tributes some of the many people working in this burgeoning field of genetics. As always, of many clever, well executed experiments which probe the unknown, a few people hit on, and recognize having a new, testable, useful 'successive approximation of reality'. Thanks to all who pursue this amazingly beautiful, but complex story of our precious "measurable change in the genetic form and function over generations" unfolding.
fine steady narration.
Compulsory reading to understand the false argument for intelligent design. Shapiro technomorphises bacteria and intracellular processes endowing them with cognisance, a purely subjective concept irrelevant to process of evolution.
Clarity about processes with more lay explanations in addition to the wealth of data provided. Evidence for animal germ cell horizontal transmission of heritable genetic factors or discussion why there is a lack of such
Competent, unflagging, unemotional
"Certainly not for the beginner"
I consider myself well above average in my knowledge and understanding of evolution (for example, most people don't know the difference between lamarckian and darwinian evolution), and I have read several books on the subject, from "Dummies" to Dawkins and Shermer to Scott. I have even got myself a copy of the textbook "Evolution" by Douglas Futuyma. Unfortunately, this book hit me like a brick. I don't have a background in molecular biology, so I spent a lot of time on Wikipedia looking up terms that the author expects you to know beforehand. If I had this book as a PDF, it would have been easier to cut-n-paste the unfamiliar terms into Google. They way it is, with stopping the playback, trying to figure out the word, looking it up, then restarting the playback only to stop a few minutes later, I was extremely annoyed. Further, there are many references to material that is online, but I found nothing on the audible site and had to go look for it myself.
Whether this book is technically useful is very difficult for me to say, because I was so overwhelmed by the material that I can neither say it is scientifically accurate nor that the conclusions are correct. I have over a dozen audible book and this was the first one I regret having bought. It would be nice if I could get my money back or at least exchange it for a different one.
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