Monday 17 March 2008: the books I expected to discuss
On 17 March I planned to feature three books that touched on various aspects of evolution. Unfortunately, the two interviews I was working on misfired and KVMR replaced Booktown with special St Patrick's Day programming. These are the books that I had in mind:

  • Natural Security: A Darwinian Approach to a Dangerous World, edited by Raphael D Sagarin and Terence Taylor (University of California Press). A collection of papers, some vivid and provocative, some dry and technical, that relate questions of national security (especially as affected by terrorism, epidemics and natural disasters) to immunology, population ecology, network theory and other specialties, all in the light of evolutionary theory.
  • A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, MD, Fari Amini, MD and Richard Lannon, MD (Random House). Instead of examining human emotions as they play out in our modern social vacuum, the authors point out that love is simply one of the things that mammals do. Unlike reptiles, who bear their young in dismbodied eggs and whose brains are oriented toward survival, mammals have evolved the emotionally sensitive limbic region of the brain to trigger the responses they need to nurture their extremely vulnerable offspring. Even after the later development of the more abstractly intellectual neocortex, patterns established in the limbic region still determine how humans--children, adults an all their combinations--relate to one another.
  • The Last Human: A Guide to Twenty-two Species of Extinct Humans, created by G J Sawyer and Viktor Deak, with text by Esteban Sarmiento, G J Sawyer and Richard Milner (Yale University Press). This is a book I've been waiting for for decades. It describes all known hominid species from seven million years ago to the the present. About a third of the book is devoted to a stunning physical reconstruction of most of the species and an imaginative narrative of their environment and lifestyle. The rest covers the fossil record in enough detail that even a beginner can begin to speculate on how particular bones might fit together and how one combination might differ from and possibly evolve from another (the authors give a wide variety of professional opinions for those not ready to guess on their own).

posted by Eric Tomb and others 3:34 PM

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