This book presents a global history of the biological sciences from ancient times to today, providing needed perspective on the development of biological thought while shedding light on the field's upheavals and key breakthroughs through the ages. Michel Morange brings to life the dynamic interplay of science, society, and biology's many subdisciplines, enabling readers to better appreciate the interdisciplinary exchanges that have shaped the field over the centuries.
Each chapter of this incisive book focuses on a specific period in the history of biology, describing the major transformations that occurred, the enduring scientific concerns behind these changes, and the implications of yesterday's science for today's. Morange covers everything from the first cell theory to the origins of the concept of ecosystems and offers perspectives on areas that are often neglected by historians of biology, such as ecology, ethology, and plant biology. Along the way, he highlights the contributions of technology, the important role of hypothesis and experimentation, and the cultural contexts in which some of the most breathtaking discoveries in biology were made.
Unrivalled in scope and written by a world-renowned historian of science, A History of Biology is an ideal introduction for students and experts alike, and essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the present state of biological knowledge.
Michel Morange is professor emeritus at the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Sciences and Techniques at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. His books include The Black Box of Biology: A History of the Molecular Revolution, Life Explained, and The Misunderstood Gene. He lives in Paris.
"Morange simultaneously manages to present the facts with authority and to challenge the reader to think more deeply about what he writes."
– Andrew Saintsing, Integrative and Comparative Biology
"This book is a masterpiece. Step-by-step, Morange charts a history of how countless great ideas developed and how we came to understand life and ourselves in the way we do. This is a book to treasure and one that I will refer to again and again."
– Daniel M. Davis, author of The Beautiful Cure and The Secret Body
"Hurrah – what a pleasure to see this remarkable history available in English! Michel Morange provides a much-needed and compelling account of the history of biology."
– Janet Browne, editor of The Quotable Darwin
"Brilliant, insightful, and challenging, Michel Morange's masterpiece reveals the continuities and profound changes in the history of biology. Spanning millennia and roaming across the planet, this book takes us on one of humanity's most significant and exciting journeys – the quest to understand life itself. Few scholars could have written this stimulating mixture of the historical, the philosophical, and the scientific – Morange is a global treasure, unique in his ability to make the reader think in completely new ways."
– Matthew Cobb, author of The Idea of the Brain: The Past and Future of Neuroscience
"This is an astonishing book, breathtaking in its range across time and subjects, from the ancient era of Hippocrates and Galen to the modern age of genetics, molecular biology, and neuroscience. Morange's compelling account of the past brightly illuminates issues confronting biology in the present."
– Daniel J. Kevles, author of In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity
"Concise and clearly written. A History of Biology takes readers from the earliest times to the present day, covering the important developments in a wide range of fields."
– Brian Charlesworth, coauthor of Evolution: A Very Short Introduction