Summary of The Tangled Tree
From THE TANGLED TREE: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen. Copyright © 2018 by David Quammen. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
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In light of public fascination with family genealogy and heredity, David Quammen’s book offers provocative reading. While it won’t help you determine if you’re related to royalty, it will introduce you to other members of your gene pool: bacteria and viruses. In this ambitious undertaking, Quammen presents the sweep of research into evolutionary history from Charles Darwin to Carl Woese. He neatly breaks that history into mostly readable sections about science and scientists. The search for exactly when and how life began gives him a structure for chronicling Woese’s career, chronicling the microbiologist whose genius led him to discover a new kind of life, a third great limb on the tree of life – the Archaea. Along the way, tales of other scientists working on related topics enrich the history. One facet of Quammen’s highly recommended book is more implied than stated: how science is done and the culture and values of that institution.
In this summary, you will learn
- How scientists seek to understand evolution,
- How life forms change via some ways Charles Darwin never suspected and
- How the power of the scientific method drives discovery.
About the Author
David Quammen has written 15 books, including The Song of the Dodo and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin. A former Rhodes scholar, he wrote the text of the entire May 2016 National Geographic about Yellowstone’s ecosystem. Harper’s, The Atlantic, Outside and other magazines also have published his work.