Dinosaur in a Haystack

Stephen Jay Gould

Jonathan Cape 1996
A book review by Danny Yee © 1996 http://dannyreviews.com/
Dinosaur in a Haystack is the seventh volume of Gould's essays to appear; it offers no surprises for those who have read the previous six (or for subscribers to Natural History, where his essays first appear). The recurring themes of the essays are the same as ever — punctuated equilibrium, the contingency of evolution (and particularly human evolution), and the influence of politics and culture on science — as is their basic structure — an interweaving and connection of apparently trivial historical, literary, and biological details with one another and with broader themes to form a coherent whole.

As a prose stylist, Gould just gets better and better. While you have to have some interest in evolution to appreciate him properly, he could be read the way Bacon used to be, for the sheer elegance and power of his writing. (Gould as a set text in English classes — now wouldn't that drive the creationists to distraction!) There is no Nobel prize for biology: has he any hope of emulating Bertrand Russell and getting one for literature?

April 1996

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Related reviews:
- books by Stephen Jay Gould
- books about evolution
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%T Dinosaur in a Haystack
%A Gould, Stephen Jay
%I Jonathan Cape
%D 1996
%O paperback, bibliography, index
%G ISBN 0224044729
%P xv,480pp