[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index][Subject Index][Author Index]

Re: BOOK REVIEWS



In article <199610281727.MAA29259@juliet.ucs.indiana.edu>, Darren Naish
<dwn194@soton.ac.uk> writes:

>> Recently T. A. Curtis asked about Fastovsky and Weishampel's _The
>> Evolution and Extinction of Dinosaurs_.  I thought I should point out
>> that Dale Russell wrote a review of it for _Science_ (Sept. 27th
>> issue, I think, but it may have been Sept. 20th).  The review is quite
>> positive, though he does suggest improvements, mainly because he
>> expects new editions to come out.  There are a couple of other book
>> reviews of interest in that issue, so you might want to look for it.

>BENTON, M.J. 1996. Life and death at the KT boundary. _Trends in Ecology and
>Evolution_ 11 (10): 442-443
>
>Benton is incredibly positive about Fastovksy and Weishampel's book, he
>literally does not have a bad word to say about it. He describes it as 
>'superb',
>'convey[ing] enthusiasm and excitement', and he says that the fact that 14
>colour plates are included is 'astounding in a textbook at this price'.

I spent some spare time after Curtis's message came through, re-reading
F and W.  On the whole I agree that it is a very very successful
undergraduate or high-school introduction to our favourite beasties.
There is heavy emphasis on scientific reasoning and on potential reasons
to reassess the conclusions presented - a welcome refreshment from
didacticism.  The introductions to cladism are clear and include reasons
why anyone bothers with cladism in the first place (to avoid Jonathan
Wagner feeling obliged to assassinate us:-)).  The illustrations are
indeed good for a book at this price.

There were, for me, a few minor irritators.  First was the use of slang
unfamiliar to me and also to my dialect consultant (an American
colleague).  "Keester" comes to mind.  Second may be an unreasonable
demand in a book of this nature, but I'd have preferred, in addition to
the excellent bibliographies, some references to a greater selection of
primary papers.  Finally, a very personal preference, but the scientific
arguments tend, I feel, to be presented as either-or, rather than giving
as much scope as I would like to our considerable range of uncertainty
about many issues.  Science is generating and testing hypotheses, but
I'm not a fan of strict falsificationism.  But maybe I'm being too
demanding for the target audience and the space available....

That said, I think that it's still really excellent.  

Richard Keatinge

- ignorant but keen.