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A reprint of a classical work in the Princeton Legacy Library, originally published in 1993.
Within a single captivating narrative, John Bonner combines an intensely personal memoir of scientific progress and an overview of what we now know about living things. Bonner, a major participant in the development of biology as an experimental science, draws on his life-long study of slime molds for an understanding of the life cycle-the foundation of all biology. In an age of increasing specialization and fragmentation among subfields of biology, this is a unique work of reflection and integration.
The Background 1
Ch. 1 Beginnings 3
Ch. 2 The Life Cycle 15
The Period of Size Increase 37
Ch. 3 Becoming Larger by Becoming Multicellular 39
Ch. 4 Becoming Larger by Developing 68
Ch. 5 Becoming Larger during Evolution 93
The Adult Period 121
Ch. 6 Becoming Aware 123
Ch. 7 Becoming Social 158
Ch. 8 Becoming Cultural 179
Selected Reading 201
"If we measure books by the degree to which they alter our perceptions, then this one is certainly a winner. We will never be able to look at a rotting log in quite the same way again or dig through the soil in the garden."
– Steven Austad, Natural History
"Charming, fascinating, and insightful, this slim volume combines a memoir of a life in science with an accessible distillation of what we know about the workings of living things."
– Kirkus Reviews
"Bonner's prose is a felicitous blend of science simply explained, gentle but insistent rigor, and a fetching triad of wry humor, personal anecdote and unexpected diversion. This makes for an enchanting book that reflects a thoughtful preoccupation with life cycles and their evolution [...] rang[ing] [...] widely from the inherent importance of the size of particular organisms to the nature of animal thought and human culture."
– Bernard Dixon, New Scientist
"This, then, is not only a book that grapples with some of the most profound issues in biology but also a professional autobiography; a life history that has intertwined with the life cycles under study [...] Bonner's book ought to be a classic."
– Peter Calow, The Times Higher Education Supplement