Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated

Steve Jones, Author
Steve Jones, Author Random House (NY) $25.95 (416p) ISBN 978-0-375-50103-6
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-345-42277-4
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When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of the Species in 1859, he initiated a process that revolutionized biology and prompted humans to reconceptualize their place in the universe. Indeed, Darwin, coupling impeccable logic with a wealth of examples drawn from biology and geology, was able to win a huge number of scientific converts. A century and a half later, the book still stands as a monumental work of both science and literature, although, not surprisingly, other scientists have taught us a great deal more about evolution during those years. Jones (The Language of Genes), a professor of genetics at University College, London, has had the wonderful idea of revisiting Darwin's work, updating each chapter with the best that modern science has to offer. His execution of that idea succeeds brilliantly, on two levels. Darwin's genius is reaffirmed; having access to such a limited array of information, he was, Jones demonstrates, nonetheless correct in virtually every one of his hypotheses. And the ideas in Jones's updated Origin are every bit as powerful an organizing principle for all of biology as were Darwin's original thoughts. When Darwin first drafted Origin, the subfields of genetics, molecular biology and cladistics did not yet exist, while biogeography, geology, archeology and physiology were mere hints of their current selves. Jones, using humor and wit, draws from all these arenas to present a compelling case for evolution, one that is as accessible to the general reader as it is engaging to the specialist. Agent, Russell Galen. Author tour. (Apr.)
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