The Richness of Life: The Essential Stephen Jay Gould

Stephen Jay Gould, Author, Stephen Rose, Editor, Paul McGarr, Editor , intro. by Steven Rose, foreword by Oliver Sacks. Norton $35 (654p) ISBN 978-0-393-06498-8

Harvard professor and National Book Award winner Gould was one of science's best ambassadors to the general public until his death at 60 in 2002. These 44 essays represent his best-known pieces from his books and from essays for Natural History magazine, as well as never before published speeches. The editors have selected pieces on a wide range of subjects—from the ever-shrinking Hershey Bar, to his and Niles Eldredge's theory of punctuated evolution and Freud's adaptation of the (now abandoned) biological notion of recapitulation—which showcase Gould's immense curiosity as well as his skill at explaining even the most obscure topics with clear and vivid language. Autobiographical essays are followed by scientific ruminations on evolutionary theory and how it has been understood, misunderstood and misused, ever since Darwin put pen to paper. This collection demonstrates Gould's passion for life as well as his enthusiasm for, and awe at, the "majesty" of "the continuity of the tree of life for 3.5 billion years." Gould's many fans, as well as new readers, should find this collection intriguing as well as entertaining, an eminently suitable last hurrah for an amazing thinker. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/26/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 646 pages - 978-0-224-07607-4
Paperback - 646 pages - 978-0-09-948867-5
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