The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time Audiobook | Jonathan Weiner | Audible.com
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The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time | [Jonathan Weiner]

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

Rosemary and Peter Grant and those assisting them have spend 20 years on Daphne Major, an island in the Galapagos, studying natural selection. They recognize each individual bird on the island, when there are 400 at the time of the author's visit or when there are over a thousand. They have observed about 20 generations of finches - continuously.Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin's finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself.
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Audible Editor Reviews

The subtitle of The Beak of the Finch — A Story of Evolution in Our Time — is the vital thematic thread of this groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize-winning book, rendered into audio by Victor Bevine’s masterful narrative performance. “Charles Darwin never witnessed natural selection in action,” states the author, Jonathan Weiner. But Princeton University professors Peter and Rosemary Grant have seen the evidence, in flourishing abundance, during their 20-year study of finches on the Galapagos Island of Daphne Major. The Grants and their assistants did so with the very finches that famously captured Darwin’s attention during his five-week exploration on the Galapagos Islands. “Evolution in our time” means that wherever there is life, the force that drives evolution, natural selection, is everywhere and always present. Evolutionary changes thus occur at a much more rapid pace than had been envisaged by Darwin, indeed, than had been thought by the Grants’ contemporary scientists. The stunning and startling beauty of this book is achieved through the convergence of an interesting collection of scientists, newly discovered findings about finches, great writing, and the extraordinary, ultra-exotic island of Daphne Major.

Victor Bevine narrates with a powerful, expressive voice, always actively modulating with the flow of the text, shifting his narrative delivery and tone with shifts of meaning, stress, and emphases, capped with a fluent on-the-mark narrative momentum. He has one of the most dynamically active voices in the business. His The Beak of the Finch narration is an expressive merging of the scientific and the polemic with the overflowing living biological island of wonder that is Daphne Major: its finches and the scientists studying them, the evidence gained from the research, and the island itself, which is unique even by the standards of the Galapagos Islands. Bevine is keenly and imaginatively in touch with everything in this book. He finds himself on this enchanted island that embodies, to a near miraculous degree, the driving force of life on earth. And these finches! With no fear of humans, they will land right on you: your hand, your head, your nose, into your cup of java. It is these finches, more specifically the beaks of the finches and the oscillating changes of size and shape within 20 years of research, that demonstrate evolution in rapid action and mark a fundamental change in our understanding of the theory of evolution. The spirit of Bevine’s inner cello is tuned to these extraordinary representatives of the life force, the scientists studying them, and the wondrous stage upon which these events take place, Daphne Major. —David Chasey

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 1995

Rosemary and Peter Grant and those assisting them have spent 20 years on Daphne Major, an island in the Galapagos, studying natural selection. They recognize each individual bird on the island, when there are 400 at the time of the author's visit or when there are over a thousand. They have observed about 20 generations of finches - continuously. Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin's finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself.

©1995 Jonathan Weiner (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Pulitzer Prize, General Non-Fiction, 1995
  • AudioFile Earphones Award, 2010

"An engaging account of a seminal study that introduces the reader to Darwin and to the dedicated, tireless biologists who have proved him right." (Booklist)

"Narrator Victor Bevine’s English accents include Australian, American, and British, with seamless switches to Ecuadorian Spanish. He senses just the right pace for his well-pronounced deluge of scientific words and arguments. His enthusiasm for what the finch studies demonstrated heralds the Grants’ momentous contribution to our knowledge of biology today." (AudioFile)

"Evocative writing, exhaustive research, and Weiner's memorable portrait of the engaging Grants assure The Beak of the Finch membership in the select pantheon of science books that spark not just the intellect, but the imagination." (Washington Post Book World)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (120 )
5 star
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4.4 (83 )
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2 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Philip Kapelle, Netherlands 05-15-11
    Philip Kapelle, Netherlands 05-15-11 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fascinating in-depth look at evolution in action"

    A wonderful science/biology book that combines depth (the Galapagos finch study by Rosemary and Peter Grant) and breadth (impressive overview of Darwin's discoveries, and work by his scientific followers). Accessible to a non-biologist like me, while at the same time introducing many new concepts and insights from field studies. At times, the book seems to be written in a thriller style, with cliffhangers and plot turns that make you look forward to the next time you can spend time with this excellent book. Highly recommended.

    8 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 11-02-12
    Lori ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States 11-02-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "More than birds here."
    What made the experience of listening to The Beak of the Finch the most enjoyable?

    The narrator.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of The Beak of the Finch?

    At the end when the thoughts are being conclusive- It is so insightful that I will think about this book for the rest of my life. It affects my everyday living and I NEVER expected that from this book. I thought it was just going to be an interesting book about Darwin's finches and the people who have studied them.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not really. There is just too much information and I need to process it in more than one sitting.


    Any additional comments?

    Sometimes there are a few too many details and measurements, but overall this is a really good book. Maybe great, well it would be great with a few less bird details.
    I like bird stuff but what was the most amazing was side stories on other animals like the white and black moths in England etc. Wow!
    Our planet is wonderful and after reading this my commitment to taking good care of it is even stronger.
    You can never see the world the same again if you read this. We live on a beautiful planet and this book really gives a clear view of just how wonderful it is, thanks to the hard work of a lot of very patient people.

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric San bernardino, CA, United States 10-21-11
    Eric San bernardino, CA, United States 10-21-11 Member Since 2003
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    "Excellent Info, sometimes a bit too much"

    The book was excellent and really detailed, which was good to a point. I don't know what I would have cut as an editor because it was an insightful examination of the Finches and other examples of speciation, but I found that at the halfway point I found myself thinking "really only I am only half way through the book? I could teach a course on this from the information that I have been given so far. What more could they possibly have to say?" Then the author would give me more great information that backed what he was saying.

    Really an insightful and information packed read that gives the Real world life of scientists actively doing science and teh results that they are coming up with. Just a bit too long.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dennis L. Joyce Kansas City, Kansas USA 11-12-12
    Dennis L. Joyce Kansas City, Kansas USA 11-12-12 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "evolution results"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    yes. the knowledge and science were very enlightening. the observation of evolution in real time is very fascinating.


    What other book might you compare The Beak of the Finch to and why?

    "Why Evolution is True" by Jerry Coyne


    What about Victor Bevine’s performance did you like?

    his voice was as captivating as the subject matter.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    amazed that this information gathering was possible in less than a person's lifetime and the additional proof of evolution.


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kae Redstarr Hilo, HI 11-29-12
    Kae Redstarr Hilo, HI 11-29-12

    Daystrike

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    "A good overview of evolution"

    Just to be clear: I never read the print version. I am taking an evolution course at my university and the professor "suggested" this book. The beginning is very slow; the first maybe four chapters. But then it gets interesting and then...even more interesting. This book covers evolution as it is visible and measurable as well as the theories of Darwin and the like. I enjoyed the reading by Victor Bevine, but I cannot say whether this has added to the book or not, being that there were no "characters" to be portrayed and no real "story" to be told.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chlo-bell CLIFTON, VA, United States 03-24-14
    Chlo-bell CLIFTON, VA, United States 03-24-14 Member Since 2007

    Private intellectual, writer, and retired academic. Currently R&D director for Gravitational Systems Engineering, Inc.

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    "This book clearly deserves all its awards"

    Evolution made material, without anthropology. Did you know that the illegal ivory trade is causing elephants to be born with shorter or non-existent tusks. Well written and fascinating for the evolution buff. A must read!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Male Perspective Dallas Texas 02-25-14
    Male Perspective Dallas Texas 02-25-14 Member Since 2012

    I'm a son, brother, husband and father. I design software and consider myself a free-thinker.

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    "One of my favorite books that I've listened to"
    Any additional comments?

    This was an extremely interesting book. I listened to it twice. If you want to really understand how evolution works, how the environment molds and shape species then this is the book to get. If you doubt evolution is real...listen to this book. It's probably the best case study of evolution in motion.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark T Portland, OR 01-14-14
    Mark T Portland, OR 01-14-14 Member Since 2010

    Audible books are the perfect companion for my 4 mile morning walk!

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    "A riveting and fun way to learn science"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book describes the first time that anyone has been able to actually observe and document evolution in action. Absolutely fascinating, and would certainly recommend it.


    What does Victor Bevine bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The narration of the book was perfect for the topic and the story. The reader was simply very comfortable with the book.


    Any additional comments?

    For anyone interested in biology or natural selection, this is a no-brainer. But even for people who aren't deep into those topic, this is a great and fun way to explore them.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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