The Loom

Evolution, Back on the Bookshelf

i-dbdb7e3ab33400a563678420887fca62-new paperback cover 250.jpgI’m happy to report that the eyes are back.

My third book, Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea, came out in 2001. It’s a survey of the history and cutting edge of evolutionary biology, from the origin of new species to mass extinctions, from the rise of complex life to the emergence of humans. The book explores evolutionary races between hosts and parasites, between males and females. It puts evolution in a historical context as well, showing how Darwin’s theory emerged out of the science of his time and how social and political tensions foster hostility to evolution today. Scientific American called it “as fine a book as one will find on the subject.” (More information, as well as an excerpt, can be found here.)

HarperCollins has now reissued Evolution, with a new introduction from yours truly.  I reflect on the past five years of science and politics. For the politics, I focus on the Dover intelligent design trial last fall, which brought the current controversies over how to teach evolution into sharp relief. For the science, I look at new research in human evolution, from the search for genes that make us human to new discoveries about the oldest known hominids. As these links suggest, the introduction sprang from the fertile ground of this blog. So if you want to get some more writing about evolution on the printed page rather than the computer screen–or if there’s someone you know who wants to know what all this stuff about Darwin is about–please check out the book. The official release date for the reissued edition is September 5, but Amazon will let you buy it now.


  1. #1 sharon
    August 22, 2006

    Yea, glad to hear this book is still in print and being sold.. hopefully it will be around for a long time to come. For anyone who hasn’t read it (or at least viewed the video series) it’s a worthwhile investment. For me, it’s a book (and videos) I’ve referred to again and again… Managing a site for an evolutionist, and being Carl Zimmer is one of the most prolific and respected scientific journalists of our day, I gave a couple big splash ads that rotate (definately was worth linking) and feed through to all pages (I really want people to know about the series) and book. (Well, it randomly rotates (2outof3) with one other book, Brian Greene’s “Elegant Universe” on String Theory — just refresh if so, for the whale bones and Gingerich, etc). The information found in Evolution: Triumph of an Idea on the evolution of whales, is incredible. As a note, in the video series, learning about biology… I was really taken by the interesting body plans, fish and sharks swimming horizontally, vs vertical locomotion in mammals… and many other indication of common ancestry with mammals.
    *Got to change the blog address to

    When Evolution: Triumph of an Idea first broadcasted over North Carolina Public Television in 2002, the producers at UNC Television included a lengthy follow-up, interviewing several representatives of the state’s major religions. The Bishop of course, gave the most positive response… a Buddhist representative also commented, if my recollection is correct, both were positive.

  2. #2 veledan
    August 22, 2006

    Bah, can’t order it from the UK Amazon until November 🙁

    It can go on the Christmas list though

  3. #3 ruidh
    August 22, 2006

    Heh. Barnes and Noble has a listing for the old edition. Publication date: 1902.

    You’re remarkably well preserved.

  4. #4 somnilista, FCD
    August 24, 2006

    What with the ID campaign in full swing the last few years, I bought several copies of your book to send to my under-age nieces and nephews in the Midwest. Only after these copies were sent did I read the book myself, and find the rather detailed description of bonobo social life. Did you have to be so graphic?

    Other than that one page, it’s a terrific book and an impressive accomplishment.

  5. #5 Skip Evans
    August 29, 2006

    Hey somnilista,

    Woudn’t you rather your under-age nieces and nephews learn about it from Carl Zimmer than music videos?

    Whether he’s cuter than Jay-Z is, to be sure, subjective.

  6. #6 Ben Capoeman
    August 29, 2006

    My 6 year old daughter calls it “The Eye Book.” She insisted I read it to her last year when she was in kindergarten. Her teacher had the kindergarteners keep a journal of all the books they read with their parents. _Evolution: ToaI_ was between _Little Engine That Could_ and some Berenstein Bears thing. She still loves the pictures, and can give a pretty decent synopsis of the book.

  7. #7 Phobos
    August 30, 2006

    Oh sure, I just finished the previous version and you go and issue a new one?!? Thanks. 🙂

    So where can I find out what type of animal each of the eyes comes from? (the larger number of eyes in the older version…not the reduced 9-eye new version of the cover)

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