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The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution by [Richard Dawkins]
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The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution Kindle Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 469 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Just as we trace our personal family trees from parents to grandparents and so on back in time, so in The Ancestor's Tale Richard Dawkins traces the ancestry of life. As he is at pains to point out, this is very much our human tale, our ancestry. Surprisingly, it is one that many otherwise literate people are largely unaware of. Hopefully Dawkins's name and well deserved reputation as a best selling writer will introduce them to this wonderful saga.

The Ancestor's Tale takes us from our immediate human ancestors back through what he calls ‘concestors,’ those shared with the apes, monkeys and other mammals and other vertebrates and beyond to the dim and distant microbial beginnings of life some 4 billion years ago. It is a remarkable story which is still very much in the process of being uncovered. And, of course from a scientist of Dawkins stature and reputation we get an insider's knowledge of the most up-to-date science and many of those involved in the research. And, as we have come to expect of Dawkins, it is told with a passionate commitment to scientific veracity and a nose for a good story. Dawkins's knowledge of the vast and wonderful sweep of life's diversity is admirable. Not only does it encompass the most interesting living representatives of so many groups of organisms but also the important and informative fossil ones, many of which have only been found in recent years.

Dawkins sees his journey with its reverse chronology as ‘cast in the form of an epic pilgrimage from the present to the past [and] all roads lead to the origin of life.’ It is, to my mind, a sensible and perfectly acceptable approach although some might complain about going against the grain of evolution. The great benefit for the general reader is that it begins with the more familiar present and the animals nearest and dearest to us—our immediate human ancestors. And then it delves back into the more remote and less familiar past with its droves of lesser known and extinct fossil forms. The whole pilgrimage is divided into 40 tales, each based around a group of organisms and discusses their role in the overall story. Genetic, morphological and fossil evidence is all taken into account and illustrated with a wealth of photos and drawings of living and fossils forms, evolutionary and distributional charts and maps through time, providing a visual compliment and complement to the text. The design also allows Dawkins to make numerous running comments and characteristic asides. There are also numerous references and a good index.-- Douglas Palmer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"This clever approach to our extended family tree should prove a natural hit with science readers." —Publishers Weekly, starred

"One of Dawkins's best: a big, almost encyclopedic compendium bursting with information and ideas." —Kirkus Reviews, starred

"This is an ambitious, important book rich with fascinating insights. Also, it couldn't come at a better time."—Carl Zimmer, The New York Times Book Review

"Our complete evolutionary story, brilliantly recounted by Dawkins."—Jonathan Keats, Popular Science

"The most modest and winning of his eight books."—John Horgan, Discover --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN : B01K6G1H4K
  • Publisher : Mariner Books; Illustrated edition (September 6, 2016)
  • Publication date : September 6, 2016
  • Language : English
  • File size : 17147 KB
  • Text-to-Speech : Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
  • X-Ray : Enabled
  • Word Wise : Enabled
  • Print length : 829 pages
  • Lending : Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.6 out of 5 stars 469 ratings

Customer reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
469 global ratings
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Reviewed in the United States on April 27, 2018
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Reviewed in the United States on July 12, 2015
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Reviewed in the United States on June 9, 2012
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Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2010
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Top reviews from other countries

Geoff
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 30, 2017
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Sky-Krysia
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on March 25, 2017
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Bigpuss5
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping story
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 11, 2013
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3 people found this helpful
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J. Glazer
5.0 out of 5 stars No comment
Reviewed in Spain on October 30, 2018
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Bala
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous work on evolution
Reviewed in India on November 7, 2019
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