DNA is the genetic material that defines us as individuals. Over the last two decades, it has emerged as a powerful tool for solving crimes and determining guilt and innocence. But, very recently, an important new aspect of DNA has been revealed: it contains a detailed record of evolution. That is, DNA is a living chronicle of how the marvelous creatures that inhabit our planet have adapted to its many environments, from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to the lush canopy of the rain forest.
In this fascinating narrative, Sean Carroll guides listeners on a tour of the massive DNA record of three billion years of evolution to see how the fittest are made. And what an eye-opening tour it is - one featuring immortal genes, fossil genes, and genes that bear the scars of past battles with horrible diseases. This book clinches the case for evolution, beyond any reasonable doubt.
©2007 Sean B. Carroll; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
"Carroll offers some provocative and convincing evidence." (Publishers Weekly)
"Here is evolution clearly explained and stoutly defended." (Booklist)
Unlike "Survival of the Sickest", which lays out a premise and provides some great background, this book is so ovbiously an argument for evolution that it gets old. Now, I believe in evolution so I didn't need this book to convince me. In fact, I was interested in hearing more about the science - the problem for me was that I didn't need all the convincing. But, this author keeps deriding those "non believers" so often that I felt like much of the books time was wasted. Also, I would expect that a book aimed at an intelligent, thinking audience could just say once (at the beginning) that graphs and charts could be found on the publisher's website. Why repeat it every 5-10 minutes? Why??
Sean Carrol takes on the theory of evolution using DNA as the focus. In his book "The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution," Carroll makes evolution and DNA approachable.
It has always seemed to me that those who believe in a God, god, or a creator have no more problems than those who don't - so far as the ultimate origin of life is concerned. Those looking to support their faith or destroy the beliefs of others there will find no help here. Rather, Carroll deftly helps the reader to understand why species appear as they do NOW and how some did not make it to the present. Therefore, everyone can relax and learn what science has found about DNA and evolution to date. Audible listeners will be rewarded.
Actually, my reading of the book has brought a larger interest in evolution, DNA and disease. Carroll discusses cancer and links Malaria to Sickle Cell for example. These passages have focused and adjusted my views of disease - their origins and possible cures. I also found the sections related to DNA that is lost through disuse was very informative.
The book is wonderfully written, very well read, and will inform all who enounter it.
-The authors' main motivation is to argue the case for evolution. He does so with a broad spectrum of EVIDENCE. For example, he discusses the evolution of photoreceptors across a range of animals. Very interesting.
-the final segment presents some of the controversy of evolution verse intelligent design, which I found less interesting than main discussion of the book.
For me (I teach evolution) the best part of this book is the premise that we use DNA fingerprinting every day in the court systems and no one has a problem with its evolutionary implications. I am embarrassed that this had never occurred to me. For the teacher, this book is loaded with excellent examples and demonstrates our existing understanding of how DNA reveals evolution. The science in this book is extremely accessible to all levels of knowledge. The recording itself is quite clear and the narrator easy to listen to.
EXCELLENT. THE MOST FACTUAL AND CONVINCING BOOK ON THE SUBJECT OF EVOLUTION AND UNDERSTANDING WHO WE ARE. FROM THE PAST, PRESENT AND POSSIBILITIES IN THE FUTURE.SOME OF THE FACTS AND EXAMPLES ARE TRULY AMAZING. STANLEY
This is an outstanding book. The editorial review promises to "clinch" the case for evolution- as if it needed any further clinching. This piece of work does deliver. It indirectly points out the crucial need for strengthening science curricula in our schools.
Unfortunately, I suspect more than one may dismiss the author's solid scientific arguments due to a lack of a basic understanding of biological sciences. Although the book may sometimes seem too basic to somebody with a background in biological disciplines, the opposite may be the case for a more general audience. The fact is, however, that science is not easy. It needs to be learned from basic principles, with progressive levels of complexity being laid on previous knowledge.
Rather than spending so many resources trying to force the teaching of illogical, scientifically unsound, and plain nonsensical fairy tales in our schools, why not expand the teaching of the wondrous world of real science? As the author proposes, cultural and religious factors are responsible for this great disservice to future generations.
Against the backdrop of compelling scientific facts, the conciliatory tone towards religion, at least non-fundamentalist religious views, assumed by the author in Chapter 9 is somewhat disconcerting. Still, this is a minor issue in the context of this excellent review of why stating that evolution is "just another theory", whose scientific stature is shared by relabeled Creationism (i.e., Intelligent Design), is simply not tenable, reflecting a major lack of scientific rigor.
I agree with a previous reviewer that the narrator could refer us less often to the book's website. Also, there are a few mispronunciations of technical terms interspersed throughout the book. These are very minor details that do not substract from the content of this excellent work.
Carroll gets it right. Great case studies carefully explained puts this up there with The Beak of the Finch as testimony to the wondrous workings of evolution and natural selection.
I do have to agree with several other reviews that the selling of evolution in the book is a bit heavy handed, particularly since he is mostly “preaching to the choir” since people who don’t believe that in evolution are very unlikely to read the book. Saying something is “unquestionably true” is pointless if a high percentage of the population to indeed question it, their questions by be irrational, but they are still questions, but these sort of comments really make up a small portion of the book and I found fairly easy to ignore. The author should just let the facts speak for themselves; because the facts are presented very well.
I found that I had a much clearer understanding of how evolution works through DNA after reading the book, and that is plenty to make this a worthwhile read. The explanation of the mathematics of evolution, and how changes can occur far more quickly than one might expect, was very well done.
The section showing two examples how irrational opposition to scientific evidence can be damaging was excellent, and the fact that in both cases the culture based views did not have their basis in religion was very effective.
Although I recommend the book, I should warn anyone who is looking for a fun read that the final section of the difficulty in repairing damage done the environment is depressing.
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.
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