Described by the 'Sunday Times' as "the greatest living scientist", Stephen Jay Gould's writing remains the modern standard by which popular science writing is judged. Ever since the mid-1970s, his monthly essay in Natural History - "written without a single interruption for cancer, hell, high water, or the World Series" - and his full-length books have bridged the yawning gap between science and wider culture.
Throughout his work Gould has developed a distinctive and personal form of essay to treat great scientific issues in the context of biography.
In this fascinating collection, his tenth and last volume of essays from Natural History, Gould has once again applied biographical perspectives to the illumination of key scientific concepts and their history, ranging from the discovery of the new scourge of syphilis by Fracastero in the sixteenth century and Isabelle Duncan's nineteenth-century attempt at reconciling scripture and palaeontology to Freud's weird speculations about human phylogeny and recent creationist attacks on the study of evolution.
As always the essays brilliantly illuminate and elucidate the puzzles and paradoxes great and small that have fuelled the enterprise of science and opened our eyes to a world of unexpected wonders.