There aren't many scientists famous enough in their lifetime to be canonized by the US Congress as one of America's 'living legends'. Yet few would have grudged this accolade to Stephen Jay Gould, whose writings on history - both of the natural world and of the study of the natural world - had made him a household name by the time of his death in 2002.
A committed Darwinian and robust critic of creationist myths, he nevertheless made major revisions to orthodox Darwinian theory, from his concept of punctuated equilibrium to his insistence on the importance of chance in the history of life on earth. And in addition, his trenchant attacks on scientific racism and the pretensions of sociobiology still resonate, nearly three decades after they were first written.
In The Richness of Life, Steven Rose and Paul McGarr have selected from across the full range of Gould's writing, including some of the most famous of his essays and extracts from his major books. An introduction by Steven Rose sets both the essays, and Gould's life, in context.
Recommend this book
Add your recommendation
Only registered users can recommend books. Please use the buttons below to either create a new account, or sign-in to an existing account.
This 'best of Gould' collection leaves two strong impressions. One is that evolution is as proven a fact as gravity but that how it works is an unsolved problem. The other is that, for the practitioners, science is fun - The Times
Georgeously crafted essays... entertaining... makes a plausible case for supporting claims that the author was a modern-day Montaigne of science... a rewarding read - Sunday Telegraph
A modern polymath - Times Literary Supplement
A great scientist and science writer - Sunday Times
A Western Science phenomenon. His quirkiness, his ability to coalesce seemingly unconnected topics, and his individual passion are qualities that help make him such a powerful writer - Observer
The most readable of scientists. Whether linking the death of textile workers in New York with Darwin's theory of natural selection, or the sale of fake fossils in Morocco with an 18th-century paleontological hoax, Gould proves that he is a master bridge builder - Financial Times
One of the best essayists in the business. He uses his wide background knowledge (anything from baseball to the political history of revolutionary France) as a bridge to entice non-scientists into sharing the excitement of scientific discovery and the curious, convoluted path of new ideas through history - Scotsman
It is a hallmark of Stephen Jay Gould's craft, brilliant paleontologist that he is, to retrieve long-buried evidence from oblivion and breathe vibrant life into it, making fascinating connections between science and the human predicament... extraordinary - Sunday Times
Stephen Jay Gould was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology and Professor of Geology at Harvard and the Curator for Invertebrate Palaeontology in the University's Museum of Comparative Zoology. He died in May 2002.
Steven Rose is Professor of Biology and Director of the Brain and Behaviour Research Group at The Open University, Visiting Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Developmental Biology at University College London, and, jointly with sociologist Hilary Rose, Professor of Physic (genetics and society) at Gresham College, London. His books include The Making of Memory (1992), Lifelines (1997), Alas, Poor Darwin: Arguments Against Evolutionary Psychology (with Hilary Rose) (2000) and The 21st-Century Brain (2004).
Paul McGarr is a mathematics teacher in an east London secondary school and a leading member of the Respect coalition in Tower Hamlets. He is on the editorial board of the International Socialism quarterly journal and has written regularly for that journal on issues around science and society. He has written a number of articles and books, including Marxism and the Great French Revolution (1992) and Mozart: Overture to Revolution (2001).