Synopses & Reviews
How great is the evolutionary distance between humans and apes, and what is it that creates that gulf? Philosophers and scientists have debated the question for centuries, but Michael Corballis finds the mystery revealed in our right hands. For humans are the only primates who are
predominantly right handed, a sign of the specialization of the left hemisphere of the brain for language. And that specialization, he tells us, makes a massive distance indeed, as he describes what exactly it means to be the lopsided ape.
In The Lopsided Ape, Corballis takes us on a fascinating tour of the origins and implications of the specialization of the two halves of the brain--known as laterality--in human evolution. He begins by surveying current views of evolution, ranging from the molecular level--the role of viruses,
for instance, in transporting genes between species--to the tremendous implications of such physical changes as walking on two feet. Walking upright freed our ancestors' arms for such things as tool-making and gesturing (a critical part of early language). Corballis argues that the evolution of
the brain--and language--was intimately tied up with these changes: The proliferation of objects made by early hominids, in an increasingly artificial environment marked by social cooperation, demanded greater flexibility in communication and even in thinking itself. These evolutionary pressures
spurred the development of laterality in the brain. He goes on to look at the structure of language, following the work of Noam Chomsky and others, showing how grammar allows us to create an infinite variety of messages. In examining communication between animals and attempts to teach apes and
dolphins language, he demonstrates that only humans have this unlimited ability for expression--an ability that he traces back through hominid evolution. After this engrossing account of what we know about evolution, language, and the human brain, Corballis suggests that the left hemisphere has
evolved a Generative Assembling Device, a biological mechanism that allows us to manipulate open-ended forms of representation and provides the basis for mathematics, reasoning, music, art, and play as well as language and manufacture. It is this device, he writes, that truly sets us off from the
Both a detailed account of human language and evolution and a convincing argument for a new view of the brain, The Lopsided Ape provides fascinating insight into our origins and the nature of human thought itself.
"Tushnet has produced an account of what went on within the Supreme Court during Marshall's tenure that is not only well researched but also well written. Readers without a legal background will appreciate his very clear explanations of arcane doctrines...Tushnet offers readers extremely informative accounts of the court's internal arguments over civil rights and the death penalty."--America Historical Review
"By sticking to constitutional law issues...Tushnet is able to tie the pieces together into a fascinating and worthwhile journey through the life of the nation's first African American Supreme Court justice. Highly recommended for both general and academic readers at any level interested in law, political science, history, ethnic studies, or cultural studies."--Choice
"Weaving a narrative mainly from the public records of Marshall and other justices, interviews with colleagues and his own personal recollections as a clerk for Justice Marshall, Tushnet has delivered another impressive account of Justice Marshall's influence on the making ofcivil rights and constitutional law. It is a book deserving of a close reading by scholars of Supreme Court jurisprudence."--Ihe Law and Politics Book Review
"Tushent boldly and honestly portrays Marshall's constitutional jurisprudence...[a] fine study of Marshall."--Los Angeles Daily Journal
"Making Constitutional Law stands as a learned tribute to a man who never forgot what the civil rights struggle was about and the centrality of the Constitution in that struggle.Marshall truly fought the good fight, and departed with his head high. Professor Tushnet has reminded us why we are so proud of this man in whom so many of us placed our faith."--Nathaniel R. Jones, United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
Following on Making Civil Rights Law, which covered Thurgood Marshall's career from 1936-1961, this book focuses on Marshall's career on the Supreme Court from 1961-1991, where he was the first African-American Justice. Based on thorough research in the Supreme Court papers of Justice Marshall and others, this book describes Marshall's approach to constitutional law in areas ranging from civil rights and the death penalty to abortion and poverty. It locates the Supreme Court from 1967 to 1991 in a broader socio-political context, showing how the nation's drift toward conservatism affected the Court's debates and decisions.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 229-236) and index.