Evolutionary biologist and paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould has perfected the art of the essay in this brilliant new collection. These thirty-four essays, most originally published in Natural History magazine, exemplify the keen insight with which Dr. Gould observes the natural world and convey the infectious enthusiasm for fossils and evolutionary theory that has made his books award-winning, national best-sellers.
In his latest musings on evolution and other natural phenomena, Gould reveals the uncanny interconnections among distinctly human creations – museums, literature, music, politics, and culture – encompassing a delightfully, wide range of topics, from giant fossils, fads, and fungus to baseball, beeswax, and blaauwbocks, from a humanistic look at Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Erasmus Darwin's poetry to the fallacies of eugenics and creationism and the moral imperatives of thinking people to meet the ethical challenges that pseudo-science presents.
Preface: Come Seven
Part One: Heaven and Earth
1. Happy Thoughts on a Sunny Day in New York City
2. Dousing Diminutive Dennis’s Debate (or DDDD=2000)
3. The Celestial Mechanic and the Earthly Naturalist
4. The Late Birth of a Flat Earth
Part Two: Literature and Science
5. The Monster’s Human Nature
6. The Tooth and Claw Centennial
7. Sweetness and Light
Part Three: Origin, Stability, and Extinction
8. In the Mind of the Beholder
9. Of Tongue Worms, Velvet Worms, and Water Bears
10. Cordelia’s Dilemma
11. Lucy on the Earth in Stasis
12. Dinosaur in a Haystack
13. Jove’s Thunderbolts
Part Four: Writing about Snails
14. Poe’s Greatest Hit
15. The Invisible Woman
16. Left Snails and Right Minds
Part Five: The Glory of Museums
18. Cabinet Museums: Alive, Alive, O!
19. Evolution by Walking
20. The Razumovsky Duet
21. Four Antelopes of the Apocalypse
Part Six: Disparate Faces of Eugenics
22. Does the Stoneless Plum Instruct the Thinking Reed?
23. The Smoking Gun of Eugenics
24. The Most Unkindest Cut of All
Part Seven: Evolutionary Theory, Evolutionary Stories
25. Can We Complete Darwin’s Revolution?
26. A Humongous Fungus Among Us
27. Speaking of Snails and Scales
28. Hooking Leviathan by Its Past
29. A Special Fondness for Beetles
30. If Kings Can Be Hermits, Then We Are All Monkeys’ Uncles
31. Magnolias from Moscow
Part Eight: Linnaeus and Darwin’s Grandfather
32. The First Unmasking of Nature
33. Ordering Nature by Budding and Full-Breasted Sexuality
34. Four Metaphors in Three Generations
Stephen Jay Gould was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University and Vincent Astor Visiting Professor of Biology at New York University. A MacArthur Prize Fellow, he received innumerable honors and awards and wrote many books, including Ontogeny and Phylogeny and Time's Arrow, Time's Cycle (both from Harvard).
"[Gould] writes in a consistently graceful, approachable style, with easy elegance and clarity, and he is an incomparable explainer of difficult ideas."
– Phillip Lopate, The New York Times Book Review