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Publisher's Summary

In this essay collection, Stephen Jay Gould examines the puzzles and paradoxes great and small that build nature's and humanity's diversity and order. He formulates a humanistic natural history, one that considers how humans have learned to study and understand nature, rather than a history of nature itself. And through short biographies, Gould depicts how scholars grapple with problems of science and philosophy and illuminates the interaction of the outer world with the unique human ability to struggle to understand the whys and wherefores of existence. This collection is the first of the final 3 essay collections from Gould, who has announced that the series will end with the turn of the millennium.

©1998 by Stephen Jay Gould (P)1998 by NewStar Media Inc.

Critic Reviews

  • Winner of Publishers Weekly Listen Up Award: Best Audio of 1998, Science

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Thoughtful and entertaining

Written by the brilliant and entertaining Stephen Jay Gould, and narrated by Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., it's hard to go wrong. This book delivers Gould's insightful commentaries on evolutionary biology, begining with a discussion of art, science, and the real reasons why Leonardo daVinci wrote extensively on marine fossils found in montane regions. An essay on the Diet of Worms leads into the defenestration (that is, "chucking out the window") of religious leaders, and on to why it's a pity that Columbus didn't drop a few snails in his pocket, that we might know with more certainty where he actually landed (and, incidentally, instigated the genocidal campaign that wiped out the friendly natives who greeted him). A look into the minds of sloths and vultures and the early naturalists who held them in contempt comes near the end, and the book concludes with an essay on science itself.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

An enjoyable read for select tastes...

If you could sum up Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms in three words, what would they be?

I'm a fan of SJ Gould and I like his work. This was a good reading of his work.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful