Book Description

From Publishers Weekly Wakeford, a biologist and award-winning science writer, fires a shot across the bow of contemporary Darwinism with this compelling defense of symbiosis, the notion that evolution is driven as much by interdependence as by competition and that microbes are its leading innovators. The claim that adaptation in nature can be communal as well as dog-eat-dog might be stating the obvious, but as the author argues, many of the most influential evolutionary biologists of the last 50 years have focused almost exclusively on competition, while the microbe, long misunderstood to be merely disease-related, has been completely overlooked. Louis Pasteur, the 19th-century father of microbiology, single-handedly spawned the antibacterial age with his cult of cleanliness. During WWI, the British press employed Pasteur's fearsome metaphor of the 'bacterial mob' to dehumanize the enemy, dubbing the Germans 'GermHuns.' Wakeford illustrates how symbiosis, an idea whose time surely has come, has been the object of open hostility from politically minded biologists, who equated the concept with Communism and totalitarianism. During WWII, University of Chicago biologists Warder Allee and Alfred Emerson, following Russian scientist Peter Kropotkin's lead when he argued that the overemphasis of competition in evolutionary theory was a byproduct of industrialized capitalism, found themselves on the defensive against charges that their own theories were a justification of a Nazi-like police state that forced self-sacrifice for the benefit of the nation. Fortunately, the scientific community has begun to come around, thanks to the work pioneered by Kropotkin, the Chicago School and others. As the book's title suggests, Wakeford marshals convincing evidence from the four corners of the natural world to show how germs blazed the trail that was later followed by plants and animals. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Read more Review Wakeford, a biologist and Award-winning science writer, fires a shot across the bow of contemporary Darwinism with this compelling defense of symbiosis, the notion that evolution is driven as much by interdependence as by competition and that microbes are its leading innovators. The claim that adaptation in nature can be communal as well as dog-eat-dog might be stating the obvious, but as the author argues, many of the most influential evolutionary biologists of the last 50 years have focused almost exclusively on competition, while the microbe, long misunderstood to be merely disease-related, has been completely overlooked. Louis Pasteur, the 19th-century father of microbiology, single-handedly spawned the antibacterial age with his cult of cleanliness. During WWI, the British press employed Pasteur's fearsome metaphor of the 'bacterial mob' to dehumanize the enemy, dubbing the Germans 'GermHuns.' Wakeford illustrates how symbiosis, an idea whose time surely has come, has been the object of open hostility from politically minded biologists, who equated the concept with Communism and totalitarianism. During WWII, University of Chicago biologists Warder Allee and Alfred Emerson, following Russian scientist Peter Kropotkin's lead when he argued that the overemphasis of competition in evolutionary theory was a byproduct of industrialized capitalism, found themselves on the defensive against charges that their own theories were a justification of a Nazi-like police state that forced self-sacrifice for the benefit of the nation. Fortunately, the scientific community has begun to come around, thanks to the work pioneered by Kropotkin, the Chicago School and others. As the book's title suggests, Wakeford marshals convincing evidence from the four corners of the natural world to show how germs blazed the trail that was later followed by plants and animals. (Publishers Weekly) 'a marvellous read, thoroughly deserving a place on the bookshelves of every school library, where receptive minds will find much stimulation. Highly recommended.' (Journal of Biological Education, Vol.35, No. 4, 2001) '...a crisp, highly readable book...' (Daily Telegraph, 17 November 2001) '...cheery and informal...vivid recollections...' (Biologists, Vol.48 No.6 2001) '...there is much to learn from this book...' (Times Higher Literary Supplement, 26 April 2002) Read more See all Editorial Reviews

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