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Evolution: The First Four Billion Years

By: Michael Ruse (Editor), Joseph Travis (Editor), Edward O Wilson (Foreword By)

979 pages, 145 b/w photos and illustrations

Harvard University Press

Paperback | Nov 2011 | #195306 | ISBN-13: 9780674062214
Availability: Usually dispatched within 4 days Details
NHBS Price: £20.95 $26/€24 approx
Hardback | Jan 2009 | #175944 | ISBN-13: 9780674031753
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £27.95 $34/€31 approx

About this book

Spanning evolutionary science from its inception to its latest findings, from discoveries and data to philosophy and history, Evolution: The First Four Billion Years is the most complete, authoritative, and inviting one-volume introduction to evolutionary biology available. Clear, informative, and comprehensive in scope, Evolution: The First Four Billion Years opens with a series of major essays dealing with the history and philosophy of evolutionary biology, with major empirical and theoretical questions in the science, from speciation to adaptation, from paleontology to evolutionary development (evo devo), and concluding with essays on the social and political significance of evolutionary biology today.

A second encyclopedic section travels the spectrum of topics in evolution with concise, informative, and accessible entries on individuals from Aristotle and Linneaus to Louis Leakey and Jean Lamarck; from T.H. Huxley and E.O. Wilson to Joseph Felsenstein and Motoo Kimura; and on subjects from altruism and amphibians to evolutionary psychology and Piltdown Man to the Scopes trial and social Darwinism. Readers will find the latest word on the history and philosophy of evolution, the nuances of the science itself, and the intricate interplay among evolutionary study, religion, philosophy, and society.

"If ever there were an education in a book, there's one in this massive volume [...] What is most probably the commemorative par excellence of the Origin of Species sesquicentennial."
– Ray Olson, Booklist (starred review)

"More than 100 authors contribute to the rich variety of excellent articles in this highly commendable and scholarly volume. The authors explore in detail evidence supporting the role of natural selection and other forces driving evolutionary change, and consider myriad controversies and unresolved issues in evolutionary science. Illustrative examples are drawn from all levels of life on Earth. The book critically examines distinctions between microevolution – which even religious Fundamentalists generally do not dispute – and the far more contentious macroevolution. Contributors also address the influence of evolution on philosophy, sociology, and religion and provide an excellent discussion of American antievolutionism and the ongoing controversy of teaching evolution versus intelligent design/creationism in schools."
– D.A. Brass, Choice

"Evolution, which is slightly less than 1000 pages long, covers almost every angle of its huge subject, from the perspective of science, religion, philosophy, and history."
– Evan R. Goldstein, The Chronicle of Higher Education

"Broad, engaging, and useful."
– Gregg Sapp, Library Journal

"Harvard's blockbuster contribution to the Darwin anniversary is a substantial work at almost a thousand pages."
The London Review of Books

"Evolution: The First Four Billion Years is as equally inviting and particularly timely in this bicentennial year of the birth of Charles Darwin and the ever-bubbling controversy with advocates of a creationist explanation for the mysteries of biology [...] The 16 explaining essays, followed by the second encyclopedic section offer the reader an easily and enjoyable access to what the fuss is all about and why it is important to get one's own opinions based on reality. Life, after all, is too important."
– James Srodes, The Washington Times

 "Half essay collection, half encyclopedia, it's packed with everything you'll ever want or need to know about the science of evolution."
– Zelda Roland, Wired



- The History of Evolutionary Thought
- The Origin of Life
- Paleontology and the History of Life
- Adaptation
- Molecular Evolution
- Evolution of the Genome
- The Pattern and Process of Speciation
- Evolution and Development
- Social Behavior and Sociobiology
- Human Evolution
- Evolutionary Biology of Disease
- Beyond the Darwinian Paradigm: Understanding Biological Forms
- Philosophy of Evolutionary Thought
- Evolution and Society
- American Antievolutionism: Retrospect and Prospect

Alphabetical Guide

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Michael Ruse is Lucyle T. Werkmeister Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Program in the History and Philosophy of Science, Florida State University. He is the founder and editor of the journal Biology and Philosophy, and has appeared on Quirks and Quarks and the Discovery Channel.

Joseph Travis is Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Biological Science at Florida State University.

Edward O. Wilson is Pellegrino University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard University. In addition to two Pulitzer Prizes (one of which he shares with Bert Holldobler), Wilson has won many scientific awards, including the National Medal of Science and the Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

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