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Paperback The Diversity of Life Book

ISBN: 0393310477

ISBN13: 9780393310474

The Diversity of Life

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Book Overview

In this book a master scientist tells the story of how life on earth evolved. Edward O. Wilson eloquently describes how the species of the world became diverse and why that diversity is threatened today as never before. A great spasm of extinction - the disappearance of whole species - is occurring now, caused this time entirely by humans. Unlike the deterioration of the physical environment, which can be halted, the loss of biodiversity is a far...

Customer Reviews

6 ratings

Was sent the study guide

I was looking forward to reading Wilson's work but was instead sent a study guide. I am going to attempt to order it again and hope for the correct book.

Welcome to the Jungle. Gets worse here every day.

There are some books where the superlative is simply insufficient. Edward Wilson writes with panache and vigor. He knows how to describe and keep the reader entertained. It was like I was reading fiction. Wilson also writes with detail and accuracy. He knows his science. He knows the intricacy of ecology, and knows enough to know he can't know everything. This allows him to keep the mystery alive for the reader. I was continually astonished to see how he pulled in various aspects of Biology when telling a life story, and various sciences, to show how it All was inter-related. He would pull in constant relationships between different forms of life, and just when I thought he was done, he would go down a microscopic level. And then down another five levels. If is possible to be a savant within ecology, then this is it. Wilson doesn't stop with good writing and excellent research. He tells us there's a problem. This is another The Jungle- only this time, there isn't much of a jungle left. Through out the book he makes clear that the planet is dying, and dying fast, and the causes of this death. Through the use of the ecological relationships, we see how an attack on one species can be an attack on thousands. Better authors are brave enough to tell us that not everything is okay. The best authors tell us that there's a way to solve these problems. There are gloom and doom authors out there, teaching the world that everything will be destroyed, and the only thing to do now is get saved yourself. That's too little, and too easy, for Wilson. He doesn't make the situation worse than it is- his facts, studies, and research make it clear the situation is pretty bad. But it's not hopeless. He lays out how we can be changing things, and there's still time to change things. Not that it will be easy. But like an economic austerity program, sacrifices must be made, that we all might survive. To make it clear, this is a survivalist book. If you are hoping to see our species survive, then this book will assist in that. If you're okay with losing out on our currect ecological richness, with the disappearance of all the ecosystems you are familiar with, and the end of a species that can create a world wide web- but the survival of constant insect lifeforms- then there's no need to read any further. (This review refers to the 1992 edition.)

Very rich book!

An incredibly full and rich book that seems to cover every aspect of nature - it poses great questions about diversity and human impact and uses countless examples and sound research. Really great - better if you have a science background as I (without such a background) was a little lost in some of the examples/descriptions. I ceratinly feel better for having read this book. Its a very important work.

Impressive and clever defence of biodiversity.

This is an important book.But first a warning: readers should have some basic biological knowledge and part of the book (with many examples and useful digressions) will only appeal to botanists/microbiologists.Prof. Wilson clearly demonstrates that the world's demographic explosion initiated a big extinction of all sort of biological species and that we have to stop this, for biodiversity is priceless.Governments take the biological wealth of their country not serious enough. He states for instance that fewer than 3 percent of the flowering plants of the world have been examined for alkoloids and that many species are at risk.Prof. Wilson illustrates very forcefully the impact of biodiversity by giving numerous examples from the medical, pharmaceutical, energy and agricultural field with colossal numbers in $ for actual applications.To give one example: 'the rosy periwinkle of Madagascar produces two alkaloids that cure most victims of two of the deadliest of cancers, Hodgkin's disease and acute lymphocytic leukaemia. The income from the manufacture and sale of these two substances exceeds $ 180 million a year.' (p.271)This is a very important book for the future of humanity. It cannot be underrated.

Amazing, Interesting, and Inspiring

I'm a freshman at college and I was required to read this for class. When I sat down to read this I thought it was going to be just another stupid book. I WAS WRONG! It is one of the most moving and motivating books I've ever read. Wilson backs up all of his ideas 110%. Though they are opinions, he makes some really good points. You'll want to be a biologist after reading it. You'll want to go out and not just plant a tree but a whole forest!

You'll want to be a biologist!

Wilson writes a great overview of biodiversity--how it is created, why it is crucial to human survival, and what we must do to preserve it. Enjoy accessible and well-documented writing that takes you from California to Madagascar, from the present to the beginnings of life as known from the fossil record. Along the way you'll learn many of the crucial ecological and evolutionary concepts (such as natural selection, community ecology, biogeography, and more) necessary for understanding what biodiversity is and how it is maintained. And finally, in the last part of the book, learn about philosophies and practices that will enable each of us to preserve the amazing diversity of life that surrounds us. You'll want to be a biologist by the time you finish the book!
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