These are my top 5 popular evolutionary biology books for 2015. Because of the popularity of evolution outside of its strictly scientific value, I made a conscious effort to include books on evolution in the arts and in politics. Personal reviews available on request!
See the rest of this year’s book recommendations here!
Many dramatists cast suspicion on the arguments of evolutionary theory and rejected its claims, even as they entertained its thrilling possibilities. Engaging directly with the relation of science and culture, this book considers the influence of not only Darwin but also Lamarck, Chambers, Spencer, Wallace, Haeckel, de Vries, and other evolutionists on 150 years of theater. It shares significant new insights into the work of Ibsen, Shaw, Wilder, and Beckett, and writes female playwrights, such as Susan Glaspell and Elizabeth Baker, into the theatrical record, unpacking their dramatic explorations of biological determinism, gender essentialism, the maternal instinct, and the “cult of motherhood.”
Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species a little over one hundred and fifty years ago, and it changed everything. But many don’t realize that it took Darwin over twenty years to develop his theory, that others had been advocating a similar theory before him, and many others have been developing it since. In A Remarkable Journey, R. Paul Thompson tells the story of evolutionary theory, of the empirical and theoretical discoveries and the endless heated debates that have led to our understanding of it today.
Does altruism exist? Or is human nature entirely selfish? In this eloquent and accessible book, famed biologist David Sloan Wilson provides new answers to this age-old question based on the latest developments in evolutionary science.
Drawing on a vast body of work across the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities, Prindle explores the rhetoric of the evolution issue, explores its history, examines the nature of the public opinion that causes it, evaluates the Constitutional jurisprudence that upholds it, and explains the political dynamic that keeps it going. This incisive analysis is a must-read in a wide range of disciplines and for anyone who wants to understand the politics of biology.
Angela Douglas explains the evolutionary origins and development of symbiosis, and illustrates the principles of symbiosis using a variety of examples of symbiotic relationships as well as nonsymbiotic ones, such as parasitic or fleeting mutualistic associations. Although the reciprocal exchange of benefit is the key feature of symbioses, the benefits are often costly to provide, causing conflict among the partners. Douglas shows how these conflicts can be managed by a single controlling organism that may selectively reward cooperative partners, control partner transmission, and employ recognition mechanisms that discriminate between beneficial and potentially harmful or ineffective partners.