The first impressions gained from the title and a cursory look at the third edition of Evolution are that this is a comprehensive and informative consideration of evolution. The text is conveniently divided into five distinct but connected parts that in turn undergo extensive subdivision into well-titled chapters and sections. This allows for considerable ease of navigation through the topics and concepts under discussion.
The introduction consists of a review of studies of evolution in their historical context in the light of our understanding of the molecular aspects of the subject and could almost stand alone as a short monograph. The main components of the book start with an extensive and uncomplicated consideration of evolutionary genetics that, in turn, acts as a foundation for adaptation and natural selection, evolution and diversity and macroevolution.
The substantial amount of information that has been distilled into the content is presented clearly, and more involved aspects of evolutionary studies, for example mathematical considerations, are expressed in a sympathetic and uncomplicated way.
This tome succeeds throughout in being a valuable source of reference and in having been conceived as a comprehensive teaching text. The diagrams are clear, uncomplicated and informative, whereas the limited number of plates, which are presented in one section, are all relevant.
Attractive learning aids include the simple marginal prompts of key terms and concepts as supplements to the main text, and indications at the end of each chapter as to which authors consider a specific topic in more detail.
Full bibliographical details are available in the extensive and combined reference section.
Overall, this is an impressive text with much to offer first-year undergraduates through to those on postgraduate courses and beyond.
Alan Pearson is principal, College of St Hild and St Bede, Durham University.
Author - Mark Ridley
Publisher - Blackwell
Pages - 751
Price - £.50
ISBN - 1 4051 0345 0