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The Unexpected Universe

4.46  ·  Rating Details ·  282 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Drawing from his long experience as a naturalist, the author responds to the unexpected and symbolic aspects of a wide spectrum of phenomena throughout the universe. Scrupulous scholarship and magical prose are brought to bear on such diverse topics as seeds, the hieroglyphs on shells, lost tombs, the goddess Circe, city dumps, and Neanderthal man.
Paperback, 252 pages
Published October 18th 1972 by Mariner Books (first published 1969)
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A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill BrysonA Brief History of Time by Stephen HawkingGuns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondCosmos by Carl SaganThe Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins
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102nd out of 377 books — 363 voters
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Michael Armstrong
Sep 23, 2011 Michael Armstrong rated it it was amazing
This is not a review. This is a funny, to me I guess, story about my picking this book. When I was a kid I decided to givr the hobo life a try and head out west by any conveyance I could hop, crawl or jump into. I remember falling into the company of a bunch of winos in a makeshift camp of sorts in N.M. Kind of a way station for the down and out, the few on the lam, and punks like me. I was chumming around with this old guy who looked like a vulture sizing everybody up for a meal. We were passin ...more
Mathieu Debic
Apr 03, 2012 Mathieu Debic rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This collection of short essays by anthropologist Loren Eiseley often led me to set down the book and stare off into space for a long minute. His writing skirts the bleeding edges of our rational understanding of the world around us and hands the reader a comprehensive guide to an almost religious devotion to and appreciation of nature and time. No polemic, no anti- or pro- anything lays secreted away in these pages. Instead the reader will find musings and tales, some light and optimistic, some ...more
Oct 27, 2009 Beth rated it it was amazing
Eiseley used to write a monthly column in a magazine called Natural History. One of the essays was about bringing home a fossil and placing it on the floor in his house. One night his dog recognized the fossil as a bone, put his foot on it and growled at his master.

Eiseley says he was transported far back into the past by the experience.

Reading this made the hair stand up on the back of my neck.

Justin Howe
Jul 16, 2010 Justin Howe rated it it was amazing
It's impossible for me not to like a naturalist who quotes from Charles Darwin, Sir Francis Bacon, Heraclitus, Lord Dunsany, and Peter Beagle.
Oct 05, 2009 Simon rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I'd never heard of the author before and don't usually read scientific philosophy, but I found it in a secondhand bookshop for 70 cents, so thought I'd give it a try.
It was a bit of a slog, to be honest. Less rigorously scientific than expected, and too philosophically woolly. Some interesting ideas buried under a pile of frustratingly vague and incoherent waffle.
Bob Nichols
Good reflections on our natural world, its evolutionary history, and a bit on our place in the universe.

Loved the dedication to "Wolf who sleeps forever with an ice age bone across his heart, the last gift of one who loved him." In the book, Eiseley relates the story of Wolf stealing the bone and fiercely growling at him when Eiseley tried to get it back.

The writing on Thoreau and Darwin was the best. Both were voyagers, the author writes. "One confined himself to the ever widening ripples on a
Sandra Murphy
Mar 22, 2015 Sandra Murphy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Five stars for everything Loren Eiseley has written! This book of essays is revealing and moving in so many ways....the search for God, the communion with nature and the wild, the contemplations of life The play with a fox cub, tying man to the initial bubbling of life on this mere planet....seeing oneself in the eye of an untamed creature. The Bonehunter, always searching, saw so much more than we.
Katrina Becker
Nov 16, 2010 Katrina Becker rated it really liked it
Flipping fantastic. I am not, repeat not, a natural history fan by any stretch of the imagination, but Eiseley's prose is so wonderful it made the ride worthwhile. The occasional non-PC 60's jargon slips in a time or two, & he's very, very excited about man having been to the moon (it was the 60's, ok?), but otherwise, what a great read.
Jul 23, 2010 Bridget marked it as to-read
I HATED, DESPISED, didn't want to look at this book when I was forced to read it in high school. I haven't looked at it since. But it was the first used book I ever bought on Amazon...and I have this feeling that I would love it if I read it now...I probably will someday...
Lindsay Coppens
Feb 08, 2015 Lindsay Coppens rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was more like a poetic meditation on life, death, evolution, human progress (or lack there of) with a focus of the works of Thoreau and Darwin. I loved the layered literary references, including The Odyssey and The Tempest. This book is timeless.
Sep 11, 2008 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Eiseley is brilliant and thoughtful. His essays are centered on nature and our physical universe and what it teaches us. The story about the spider truly enlightened me about perspective... we all have our own filter ;-)
Jul 28, 2010 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfic-science
More essays by Eiseley. Good stuff. He really lets you feel the mystery and beauty of nature and natural history.
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Loren Corey Eiseley (September 3, 1907 – July 9, 1977) was a highly respected anthropologist, science writer, ecologist, and poet. He published books of essays, biography, and general science in the 1950s through the 1970s.

Eiseley is best known for the poetic essay style, called the "concealed essay". He used this to explain complex scientific ideas, such as human evolution, to the general public.
More about Loren Eiseley...

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“Every time we walk along a beach some ancient urge disturbs us so that we find ourselves shedding shoes and garments or scavenging among seaweed and whitened timbers like the homesick refugees of a long war.” 40 likes
“I am what I am and cannot be otherwise because of the shadows.” 21 likes
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