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The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolutionby Richard Dawkins
Synopses & Reviews
Renowned biologist and thinker Richard Dawkins presents his most expansive work yet: a comprehensive look at evolution, ranging from the latest developments in the field to his own provocative views.
Loosely based on the form of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, Dawkins's Tale takes us modern humans back through four billion years of life on earth. As our pilgrimage progresses, we join with other organisms at the "rendezvous points" where we find a common ancestor. The band of pilgrims swells into a vast crowd as we join first with other primates, then with other mammals, and so on back to the very first primordial organism.
Dawkins's brilliant, inventive approach allows us to view the connections between ourselves and all other life in a bracingly novel way. It also lets him shed bright new light on the most compelling aspects of evolutionary history and theory: sexual selection, speciation, convergent evolution, extinction, genetics, plate tectonics, geographical dispersal, and more.
The Ancestor's Tale is at once a far-reaching survey of the latest, best thinking on biology and a fascinating history of all living things.
"[T]he book's scope and provocativeness are truly worthy of epic treatment, and Dawkins is skilled in simultaneously conveying cutting-edge science to the public and also contributing to its advancement." Library Journal
"Dawkins...is an excellent guide, both a profoundly original scientific thinker and a marvelously adept explainer." Carl Zimmer, The New York Times Book Review
"One of Dawkins's best: a big, almost encyclopedic compendium bursting with information and ideas." Kirkus Reviews
In works such as The Selfish Gene and Unweaving the Rainbow,
the renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has—with
unparalleled wit, clarity, and intelligence—introduced countless readers
to the wonders of modern biology. Now, in The Ancestor"s Tale,
this gifted science popularizer offers a masterwork: a wholly original
tour backward through evolution, from present-day humans all the
way to the origins of life four billion years ago. As humans are joined by
new cousins at pivotal evolutionary points, Dawkins spins entertaining,
enlightening tales, explaining topics such as speciation, sexual selection,
The Ancestor"s Tale is at once a delightful read and a comprehensive
education in evolutionary theory, as How the Mind Works is for
neurology and A Brief History of Time is for astrophysics.
With unparalleled wit, clarity, and intelligence, Richard Dawkins, one of the world's most renowned evolutionary biologists, has introduced countless readers to the wonders of science in works such as The Selfish Gene. Now, in The Ancestor's Tale, Dawkins offers a masterwork: an exhilarating reverse tour through evolution, from present-day humans back to the microbial beginnings of life four billion years ago. Throughout the journey Dawkins spins entertaining, insightful stories and sheds light on topics such as speciation, sexual selection, and extinction. The Ancestor's Tale is at once an essential education in evolutionary theory and a riveting read.
About the Author
Richard Dawkins taught zoology at the University of California at Berkeley and at Oxford University and is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he has held since 1995. Among his previous books are The Ancestor's Tale, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and A Devil's Chaplain. Dawkins lives in Oxford with his wife, the actress and artist Lalla Ward.
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