Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Evolution: A View From the 21st Century, by James A. Shapiro

Financial Times/Prentice Hall, ISBN 9780132780933, June 2011

James Shapiro argues that evolution's mechanism isn't truly random variation. The genome, he argues, is a sophisticated data storage and manipulation system. This is a book about the nitty gritty molecular details of how cells exchange genetic information, respond to changing situations, and how cells, individually and together, create useful responses out of shared and rearranged genetic sequences.

It's not light reading. Every section has an introduction that lays out the basic argument of that section, but then he dives back into the biochemistry and genetics. It's all copiously referenced, with links to additional information on the web.
I can only say that the argument is interesting and seems to make sense. It would take a far stronger biology background than mine to meaningfully assess its validity.

Another caution: This really is about the underlying biochemistry of evolution, not about what we've learned about the history of life on Earth and the development of new life forms over time. For many people, it won't be the book they're looking for when they see the title.

Includes a glossary, extensive references, an associated website with additional material, and an index.

Book trailer:

I bought this book.