Saturday, November 25, 2006

Evolution Books for Christmas (UK) [1]

Five Books from the 'Evolution Research - Amazon Book Shop' (Astore):
Climbing Mount Improbable* by Richard Dawkins

How could such an intricate object as the human eye - so complex and so precise - have come about by chance? In this masterful piece of popular science, Richard Dawkins builds a powerful and carefully reasoned argument for evolutionary adaptation as the force behind all life on earth. The metaphor of 'Mount Improbable' represents the combination of perfection and improbability that we find in the seemingly 'designed' complexity of living things. And through it all runs the thread of DNA, the molecule of life, responsible for its own destiny on an unending pilgrimage through time. Evocative illustrations accompany Dawkins' eloquent descriptions of astonishing adaptations in the living world.

*Currently appearing on page 2 of 'Featured Evolution Books' (see sidebar links or bottom of post)


The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life by Richard Dawkins

Just as we trace our personal family trees from parents to grandparents and so on back in time, so in The Ancestor's Tale Richard Dawkins traces the ancestry of life. As he is at pains to point out, this is very much our human tale, our ancestry. Surprisingly, it is one that many otherwise literate people are largely unaware of. Hopefully Dawkins's name and well deserved reputation as a best selling writer will introduce them to this wonderful saga.

The Ancestor's Tale takes us from our immediate human ancestors back through what he calls `concestors,' those shared with the apes, monkeys and other mammals and other vertebrates and beyond to the dim and distant microbial beginnings of life some 4 billion years ago.


The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal (P.S. (Paperback)) by Jared Diamond

"[Was] originally published in English in 1992, is the first book-length work of non-fiction from Jared Diamond, evolutionary biologist, physiologist and award-winning author. Diamond addresses two issues: how and why human beings transformed, in a short period, from "just another species of big mammal" into a world-dominating force and the degree to which our immense progress has been coupled with the seeds of self-destruction, particularly through genocide and environmental degradation.

While accessible to non-scientific readers The Third Chimpanzee is also erudite, drawing on history, evolutionary theory and genetics, biology and ecology, linguistics and sociology in order to compile a portrait of humanity's success and also its potential for disaster." [Wiki]


The Voyage of the "Beagle" (Wordsworth Classics of World Literature) by Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin's travels around the world as an independent naturalist on HMS Beagle between 1831 and 1836 impressed upon him a sense of the natural world's beauty, sublimity and otherness which language could barely capture. This journal takes the reader from the coasts and interiors of South America to the South Sea Islands. It displays Darwin's speculative mind at work, posing searching questions about the complex relations between the Earth's structure, animal forms, anthropology and the origins of life itself.


Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (Penguin Science) by Daniel C. Dennett

This work assesses Darwin's theory of evolution and looks at why it arises such heated debate among scientists, philosophers and sociologists. The book aims to show that Darwinism does not devalue the miracles of life.


Books on Evolution from the Science and Evolution Bookshop: UK | US

Monday, November 6, 2006

Finding Darwin's God (Review/ Excerpt/ Audio/ Video)

From Brown Alumni Magazine (BAM): Kenneth Miller is a professor of biology at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. This article is adapted from Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution (Amazon UK | US)

"...Evolution really does explain the very things that its critics say it does not. Claims disputing the antiquity of the earth, the validity of the fossil record, and the sufficiency of evolutionary mechanisms vanish upon close inspection. Even to the most fervent anti-evolutionists, the pattern should be clear - their favorite "gaps" are filling up: the molecular mechanisms of evolution are now well-understood, and the historical record of evolution becomes more compelling with each passing season. This means that science can answer their challenges to evolution in an obvious way. Show the historical record, provide the data, reveal the mechanism, and highlight the convergence of theory and fact.

There is, however, a deeper problem caused by the opponents of evolution, a problem for religion. Like our priest, they have based their search for God on the premise that nature is not self-sufficient." [Excerpt]

Continued at "Finding Darwin's God"
Watch Kenneth Miller on "The Colbert Report" (January 2006)

Listen to Kenneth Miller on WBUR's "The Connection" (January 2006)

A sample book review can be found here

Finding Darwin's God: A Scientist's Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution (Amazon UK | US)

Books on Creationism from the Science and Evolution Bookshop: UK | US

Books on Intelligent Design from the Science and Evolution Bookshop: UK | US

Books on 'Science and Religion' from the Science and Evolution Bookshop: UK | US

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Obama Barack Shares Political Vision in 'Audacity of Hope' (Audio Interview + Excerpt)

[A 'Coffee Break - Non-Science Bestseller' entry]

From NPR's 'Talk of the Nation':

Senator Barack Obama's official title - junior senator from Illinois - doesn't come close to capturing his national stature at the moment.

Since arriving in Washington two years ago, the Democratic senator has catapulted to national celebrity.

His star is on the rise again - and so, too, is the scrutiny - with the publication of his new book, The Audacity of Hope.

Obama talks about balancing the need to stay true to your core values while fundraising and staying competitive in elections. He says he's focused on the 2006 elections, and downplays speculation about possible presidential ambitions.

"If I ever decide that I'm running for president, I will have an announcement, and everybody's going to be invited," he says. [Excerpt follows]

Continued at "Obama Barack Shares Political Vision in 'Audacity of Hope' (Audio Interview + Excerpt)

Visit Barack Obama's website

The New York Times book review of "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" (UK | US) is available via this link

Barack Obama has also written "Dreams From My Father," (UK | US)

'The Audacity of Hope' by Barack Obama (Non-Science Bestseller)

Coffee Break Time - A Non-Science Bestseller!:

A New York Times book review of "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" (Amazon UK | US) by Barack Obama (website)

"Mr. Obama's new book, "The Audacity of Hope" - the phrase comes from his 2004 Democratic Convention keynote address, which made him the party's rising young hope - is much more of a political document. Portions of the volume read like outtakes from a stump speech, and the bulk of it is devoted to laying out Mr. Obama's policy positions on a host of issues, from education to health care to the war in Iraq.

But while Mr. Obama occasionally slips into the flabby platitudes favored by politicians, enough of the narrative voice in this volume is recognizably similar to the one in "Dreams From My Father," (UK | US) an elastic, personable voice that is capable of accommodating everything from dense discussions of foreign policy to streetwise reminiscences, incisive comments on constitutional law to New-Agey personal asides."

"The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream" (Amazon UK | US)