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The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution

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4.05  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,751 Ratings  ·  109 Reviews
DNA is the genetic material that defines us as individuals. Over the last two decades, it has emerged as a powerful tool for solving crimes and determining guilt and innocence. But, very recently, an important new aspect of DNA has been revealed—it contains a detailed record of evolution. That is, DNA is a living chronicle of how the marvelous creatures that inhabit our pl ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 17th 2006 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2006)
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The Origin of Species by Charles DarwinThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsThe Greatest Show on Earth by Richard DawkinsThe Ancestor's Tale by Richard DawkinsWhy Evolution Is True by Jerry A. Coyne
Best Books on Evolution...
11th out of 156 books — 112 voters
A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Best Science Books - Non-Fiction Only
253rd out of 1,030 books — 2,541 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Albert
Jul 28, 2011 Albert rated it it was amazing
In a country where the teaching of evolutionary biology is being suppressed in the schools, and where very few people actually UNDERSTAND what evolution is, this book could not have come at a better time. It is a very engaging introduction or review of the principle of evolution, meant for laypeople who care enough to be in the know. Many might be surprised to know that what we know about evolution is not only based on the fossil record but on the "DNA record". In the same way we can trace pater ...more
Aurelien
Apr 18, 2013 Aurelien rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, biology
Gobsmacking! From convergent evolution to fossil genes we are here taken through a breathtaking journey into the realm of evolution, with DNA's point of view as sole guide and captain.

Sean B. Carroll's genocentrism is captivating, fascinating, enlightening. His writing style is engaging and very accessible. The whole is a great work absolutely impossible to put down until the last line of the last page!

Brillantly, he also argues for a better recognition of evolutionary science those impact, from
...more
Sarah
Nov 19, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I read this book over the course of an entire semester of college, as it was assigned for my Ecology, Evolution & Society Biology class. That being said, I am sad to see it come to an end as this semester winds to a close as well. I had begun to look forward to the new piece of evidence or explanation for natural selection that Carroll provided with each new chapter. He presents a myriad of examples in very simplified way, so as to provide readers with an easier and more comprehensive way of ...more
Michelle
Mar 07, 2010 Michelle rated it really liked it
I studied evolution for the first time at age 26 in a "first year biology for science majors" course at Utah State University. Amazingly (at least, it seems amazing to me now, knowing how foundational evolutionary principles are to every aspect of modern biology), evolution was never even mentioned in my high school biology class, nor was it seriously touched upon in any class I took at Brigham Young University, beyond professors referring us to official Church statements on evolution (which bas ...more
Kate
Feb 19, 2011 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Although it tends at times to be too dry and formal for a pop-sci book, this is a well-built explanation of the genetics behind evolution, and has a lot of valuable things to say.

The book's best points are definitely the scientific and historical anecdotes at the beginning of each chapter. Carroll's voice at these points becomes much more lively and engaging. When he goes to explain the science behind, say, the "bloodless" icefish of the South Ocean, he immediately reverts to a scholarly tone th
...more
Lara
Eh. 2.5 stars, but I'll round up to three because it was enjoyable enough that I made it through the whole thing without getting TOO bored or annoyed.

But first of all, dangit! How did I get stuck with another audiobook narrated by Patrick Lawlor? I meant to avoid him from now on after his reading of Buddy Levy's Conquistador; at least he didn't have any Spanish to butcher this time. I'm sure he's a very nice man, but I have a really hard time with his accent. I just do. However, I did actually m
...more
Cathy Douglas
Jan 26, 2009 Cathy Douglas rated it it was amazing
This book explains and illustrates evolutionary science, relating good points through good stories. It's always illuminating to have a working scientist write popular nonfiction, and this book is a case in point. I liked it less well when Carroll veered into politics. He didn't make any case against creationism that's going to stick, and he soiled the book in attempting it.

I heard him lecture on the same topics, and both the best and worst features of this book were magnified by live presentati
...more
Andy Mitchell
Nov 03, 2013 Andy Mitchell rated it it was amazing
Dr. Carroll is a well-respected biologist and a contemporary Darwin scholar.

He shares his original insights and connects them to the latest research in evolutionary biology.

The book will anger some conservative Christians. It will also frustrate many chiropractors, and well as the occasional Soviet communist.

The tone is a bit arrogant, but the explanations of the DNA record are clear and accessible for anyone with a knowledge of high school biology and genetics.

The story moves more briskly and c
...more
David
May 14, 2009 David rated it really liked it
The book begins with somewhat of a primer on basic genetics and evolution theory - a good review for those of us not expert in the field. Then the focus turns to explanations of genes, genetic mutation, and their role in evolution and natural selection. The theory is supplemented by many interesting examples based on recent genome analysis, describing how some sequences have lasted since the fossil record and others have changed quite recently. The end of the book turned more "political" as the ...more
Darren
Sep 02, 2014 Darren rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Just as fossils provide a window into the past, evolution leaves a footprint on DNA. In The Making of the Fittest, Sean Carroll explains some of the overwhelming evidence for evolution provided in DNA, bringing to life new examples from sequences of DNA that once coded for genes no longer used, remnants of ancestral lives, and evidence of evolutionary change. As Carroll explains, "every evolutionary change between species, from physical form to digestive metabolism, is due to — and recorded in — ...more
Richard
Feb 12, 2008 Richard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Still reading. But excellent so far.

Yes. It is excellent. Very readable, and very persuasive.

Granted, I never was an evolution denier, but all the same, more reasons why short shrift should be given to creationists and - worse - Intelligent Designers.

Read and marvel at the wondrous beauty of nature.
Durdles
Feb 12, 2009 Durdles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-medicine
A useful update for those of us who want to know what gene sequencing is unearthing about our relatives, including great great etc uncle slime mould and the astonishing bloodless ice fish. Hammering the points home is unfortunately not going to convert entrenched creationists, probably just annoy them.
Ali
May 27, 2016 Ali rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: high-school
I had to read this book for my evolutionary genetics class. Considering these were difficult subjects that I had to learn, this book was very helpful in explaining these ideas in a clear and understandable way.
Yasser Mohammad
Oct 29, 2014 Yasser Mohammad rated it really liked it
I found this book be accident and it was a fortunate one. The book is clearly a defense of the evolutionary theory but it is also much more. The most important - distinguishing factor of this book - compared with othe biology books for the public - is that it does not shy away from the details. For example, the book the details of the mechanism for evolution of new genes based on gene copying in thr case of color vision evolution. It gives more focus on genetic drift and its role in evolution co ...more
Marcel
Apr 08, 2009 Marcel rated it liked it
Shelves: audio-book
I enjoyed this book in audio. It dispels all doubt as to the validity of evolution, based on DNA results, and studies deriving from DNA research.

I don't recommend if you wish to continue belief in Creationism.
Jim Gardner
Jul 28, 2012 Jim Gardner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should be required reading in all schools. The only people who would disagree with that, are those who need to read it the most.
Rossdavidh
Oct 02, 2015 Rossdavidh rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black
Popular science books in the field of biology, for me, fall into two classes:
1) potentially interesting
2) refutations of creationism or intelligent design. If it is aimed at convincing me of something I am already convinced of, and moreover has a vanishingly small chance of even being read by anybody who it might convince, what is the point?

There are some which, sadly, fall into neither camp, but I have not found any which fall into both. Until this book, that is.

Sean B. Carroll begins his book
...more
Mikel Hensley
May 17, 2014 Mikel Hensley rated it it was amazing
This is one well organized, easy to read, and information-rich book. In the first part of the book, there is an explanation of how the book will be organized, along with a review of the basic principles of evolution and natural selection. He provides an early explanation of how mutation works, of how and why a mutation may or may not change the structure of a protein (since DNA is used to code proteins, which then build bodies and structures) and explains using very basic math how we know if a p ...more
Kara
Jul 16, 2009 Kara rated it really liked it
For us scientists who spend our holidays explaining basic science concepts to our non-scientist relatives, this conversationally written book is chock full of some of the best examples that clearly illustrate and support the evolution by the forces of natural selection. Carroll simplifies DNA and molecular data and the mathematics of probability so that most people could have a better understanding of the principles that underpin evolution, and indeed, all of biology. As someone quite partial to ...more
John
May 03, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
I'll start with the crucial part of my review: I think that the last two chapters of this book should be required scientific literature for high school students. This is because I think the last two chapters make for some fairly harrowing reading if you consider how all of the principles from earlier in the book stack to the conclusions the author reaches. Since this is a science book, I feel I can spoil the ending: Human beings are causing artificial natural selection on a grade scale, essentia ...more
Ilya
Dec 28, 2010 Ilya rated it liked it
In the last few years the genomes of many different organisms were sequenced, making it possible to trace their evolution by looking at the DNA. An antarctic fish has no red blood cells, as its tissues absorb oxygen directly from the water; however, its DNA has a pseudogene that once made hemoglobin. By looking at the mutations in this pseudogene, it is possible to estimate, when it became nonfunctional, and compare this time to the time known from geology when the Antarctic Ocean froze. Old Wor ...more
David
Apr 25, 2009 David rated it really liked it
This is another interesting work on recent developments in research on biological evolution, and how these discoveries remove any reasonable doubt from the fundamental correctness of evolution as the mechanism of creation -- the evidence is truly overwhelming.

This book focuses on the many recent discoveries of evolution's record in DNA. Carroll introduces the topic by mentioning a recent case in which a person imprisoned for 18 years was freed, based on analysis of DNA. If we are willing to acc
...more
Jack
Apr 15, 2016 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, evolution
What a great book! This book is complete with everything a good book needs, not just every science book, but every book. Period. A great storyline with an easy going style, powerful messages for the reader and well researched and factually accurate on all points. And for me as an evolutionary biology student, it's about one of my favorite topics: evolution and how we know it's a fact.

This book takes you from the icy waters of the south pole to the humid and warm forests of Africa, examines the
...more
Ryan
Nov 04, 2013 Ryan rated it liked it
Shelves: nature
Pretty accessible and quick explanation of the evidence of evolution as manifested in the genes and DNA of all life on Earth. The author manages to convey main concepts such as how random mutation over great lengths of time can and do give rise to the diversity of organisms today, without getting too technical and detailed about the actual processes, one can still follow (barely at times) this 'dumb downed' version of molecular biology thanks to some good illustrations as well. The similarity in ...more
Mark
Jul 28, 2011 Mark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every thinking Christian should sit down and objectively examine the evidence supporting or contradicting the theory of evolution, first of all understanding exactly what the term "theory" means in the scientific sense, and secondly by examining the wealth of knowledge that the study of DNA has brought to the so-called debate. None of this is particularly new, but too many of us insist on sticking our heads in the ground like ostriches (like I've done for so long) instead of allowing God to prov ...more
Lis Carey
Carroll starts out by talking about forensic use of DNA evidence in criminal cases, where we rely on DNA evidence to determine guilt or innocence, often in cases where the death penalty or long imprisonment is at stake. He explains, in simple terms, how this works and why it matters.

And then he explains the contradiction between the wide popular acceptance of DNA evidence by the general public, and the widespread resistance to or rejection of evolution.

Organized in three main sections, Carroll l
...more
Book
Jun 24, 2011 Book rated it it was amazing
Shelves: evolution
The Making of the Fittest by Sean B. Carroll

Fantastic! An accessible book on genetics that hits all the right notes. Music to my ears. Beyond any reasonable doubt this is one of the best books to get on evolution. DNA contains the information that decisively confirms evolution. This book contains the information that makes it clear that it is so.

Positives:

1. Evolution explained for the general masses with focus on genetics.
2. Dr. Carroll uses a great approach to explain the complexities of g
...more
Markus
Feb 27, 2013 Markus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Klare Empfehlung. Carroll ist Biologe und Genetiker und erklärt hier für Laien verständlich, wie die Evolution auf der Ebene der DNA funktioniert. Dabei schliesst er gezielt die Lücken, die der Bio-Unterricht vor gut 20 Jahren und die Fragmente an Halbwissen dazwischen bei mir gelassen haben: Wie lässt sich die Evolution, trotz der nötigen langen Zeiträume eigentlich belegen? Wie können komplexe Organe durch schrittweise Veränderung entstehen? Ist Evolution eine Abfolge zufälliger Ereignisse? Wo ...more
Jennifer
It's a very rare book review that causes me to immediately go and purchase a book. But that's exactly what I did when I stumbled across a glowing review while browsing SEED's science blogs. Clearly I was feeling a serious lack of science and critical thinking in my life that day.

While I have some criticisms of this book, most of them stem from the fact that it was written for a general audience (and I'm glad that it was) and so sometimes had less detailed descriptions of physiology than I would
...more
Stephen
Aug 22, 2013 Stephen rated it really liked it
Sean B. Carroll's The Making of the Fittest examines the genetics of evolution, relating to readers not only how changes come about and are transmitted to the next generation, but how our genes demonstrate the passing of an evolutionary river out of Eden with the same surety that the flattened plains of the midwest testify to the passing of glaciers eons ago. After detailing the myriad ways in which genetics illuminates the inner workings and history of evolution, Carroll casts a critical eye ag ...more
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Sean B. Carroll (born September 17, 1960) is a professor of molecular biology, genetics, and medical genetics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studies the evolution of cis-regulation in the context of biological development, using Drosophila as a model system. He is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator. Since 2010, he has been vice-president for science education of the Howard ...more
More about Sean B. Carroll...

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