The Tangled Tree

A Radical New History of Life

    • 4.6 • 56 Ratings
    • $13.99
    • $13.99

Publisher Description

In this New York Times bestseller and longlist nominee for the National Book Award, “our greatest living chronicler of the natural world” (The New York Times), David Quammen explains how recent discoveries in molecular biology affect our understanding of evolution and life’s history.

In the mid-1970s, scientists began using DNA sequences to reexamine the history of all life. Perhaps the most startling discovery to come out of this new field—the study of life’s diversity and relatedness at the molecular level—is horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the movement of genes across species lines. It turns out that HGT has been widespread and important; we now know that roughly eight percent of the human genome arrived sideways by viral infection—a type of HGT.

In The Tangled Tree, “the grandest tale in biology….David Quammen presents the science—and the scientists involved—with patience, candor, and flair” (Nature). We learn about the major players, such as Carl Woese, the most important little-known biologist of the twentieth century; Lynn Margulis, the notorious maverick whose wild ideas about “mosaic” creatures proved to be true; and Tsutomu Wantanabe, who discovered that the scourge of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a direct result of horizontal gene transfer, bringing the deep study of genome histories to bear on a global crisis in public health.

“David Quammen proves to be an immensely well-informed guide to a complex story” (The Wall Street Journal). In The Tangled Tree, he explains how molecular studies of evolution have brought startling recognitions about the tangled tree of life—including where we humans fit upon it. Thanks to new technologies, we now have the ability to alter even our genetic composition—through sideways insertions, as nature has long been doing. “The Tangled Tree is a source of wonder….Quammen has written a deep and daring intellectual adventure” (The Boston Globe).

GENRE
Science & Nature
RELEASED
2018
August 14
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
480
Pages
PUBLISHER
Simon & Schuster
SELLER
SIMON AND SCHUSTER DIGITAL SALES INC
SIZE
15.2
MB

Customer Reviews

kayliknyc ,

Great book but a shocking (CW) inclusion

I really enjoyed the writing in this book and learned a lot. But I cannot comprehend why a biologist who, by the author’s own admission, purportedly raped 26 children, would be included at length in an entire chapter for the simple reason that their contributions led to other, more important, contributions. While the author goes into interesting personal stories for many of the scientists throughout the book, pedophilia is not some interesting character footnote. It’s more than license to drop this monster from the memory of history altogether. I’m shocked this was included at all.

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