Review - "The Diversity of Life"

Prepare for the onslaught - I've promised myself to update this blog at least once a day for the next week. I have lots of ideas to share. Let's start:

"The Diversity of Life" is a most wonderful book I recently read by E.O. Wilson.

Where to begin?

For those not in the know, E.O. Wilson is a senior professor of Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and is the world expert on myrmecology (the scientific study of ants). Recipient of two Pulitzer prizes for general non-fiction, the man is also a brilliant science writer.

Certainly, DoL is not Wilson's most famous, nor most read book (he's written 25 to date), but ever since its first publishing date in 1992 those in the know have found its pressing and fascinating tone necessary for the topic. Though the title seems to speak for itself, I should note that the topic of the book is biodiversity. In it, Wilson sucks the reader into a comprehensive array of historic, anecdotal, scientific, and economic view points on studies of biodiversity.

In a previous work of his, Biophilia, Wilson puts forth the concept that there is an inseparable and instinctive connection between humans and other living things (see biophilia hypothesis). Though not as strongly, DoL restates the innate love for living systems humans share. Wilson also emphasizes the strategic, practical, and economic importance biodiversity gives to humanity.The following segment was the most poignant point I believe Wilson wishes everyone knew:
Every country has three forms of wealth: material, cultural, and biological. The first two we understand well because they are the substance of our everyday lives. the essence of the biodiversity problem is that biological wealth is taken much less seriously. This is a major strategic error, one that will be increasingly regretted as time passes (Wilson, p 331).
In all, this engrossing book leaves you feeling accomplished for having a more complete grasp of the topic of biological diversity, regardless of what kept you reading. Case studies and anecdotal accounts are side by side with easy-to-understand figures and beautiful illustrations by Sandra Landry & Amy B. Wright.

Overall: 5/5 - A superb synthesis of scientific knowledge on the topic with a conservation slant.


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