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Eight Little Piggies: Reflections in Natural History

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  870 ratings  ·  28 reviews
No one illuminates the wonderful workings of the natural world as perceptively and enjoyably as Stephen Jay Gould. In this volume of reflections on biology, history and culture, Gould addresses the burning issues of ecological crisis and contemporary species extinctions as well as giving us fascinating insights into evolution - such as the fact that the first land vertebra ...more
Paperback, 479 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Vintage (first published 1993)
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It's easy to think that we are the most ephemeral of creatures, our lifetimes but a blink in the overall scheme. One of the things I get from reading Gould is the knowledge that we are very ancient creatures. I am an ancient creature. On the cellular level "mitochondria and chloroplasts look uncannily like entire prokaryotic organisms (they have their own DNA and are the same size as bacteria). Almost surely, they began as symbionts within cells of other species and later became more highly inte ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
Published in 1993, 'Eight Little Piggies' is Stephen Jay Gould's sixth book of collected essays. These essays, besides being full of fascinating natural science facts and history, discuss Gould's horror at the loss of animals around the world for the first time in a section, Part one:

-The Scale of Extinction

The rest of the book follows Gould's usual thematic stories about evolutionary theory and histories of life.

-Odd Bits of Vertebrate Anatomy
-Vox Populi
-Human Nature
-Grand Patterns of E
Tomomi Landsman
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
Ever since I read The Panda's Thumb some years ago, I've considered Stephen Jay Gould as one of my personal heroes. Every time I go to a second-hand bookstore, I look in the Science section for some of his books. I picked this one up at Second Story Books near Dupont Circle along with The Lying Stones of Marrakech, which is next on my list to read.

One of the aspects of Gould's writing that I absolutely love is how he uncovers "the other side" of stories that most people don't contemplate. Of cou
May 16, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: anybody interested in evolutionary theory.
This collection of essays is Gould's last as an author but my first as a reader of him. They are somewhat eclectic, though grouped according to theme and overall evolution and scientific method crop up the most often. Technically, the approach is less diverse, with an opening starting with some personal or topical (at the time of writing) anecdote leading into a more general discussion of a Big Idea. This is somewhat irritating to me, because it reminds me of Radio 4's Thought for the Day, in wh ...more
Mar 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish he were still alive and could come teach debaters logic.
Book 1 of my 2021 pledge to Finish the Unfinished Books on My Shelves.
I started this ~2015 reading aloud to my then boyfriend. We got caught up in wedding planning and the reading aloud ceased.
A very readable collection of essays regarding history of science, scientific thought and evolution. Gould was always a wondering approachable proponent of evolution and science.
Jente Ottenburghs
Nov 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful collection of essays by Stephen Jay Gould. I really enjoyed the ones about the history of evolutionary ideas.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I think I enjoyed some of his other collections a little more than this one. The earlier collections seemed more like science for the layman and a few of these essays bog down in some more mundane technical aspects and touch on what is an all too familiar ground Gould had covered before, the evolution drama of all the players who blindly rejected or blindly embraced it.
Lisa Chapman
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not an easy read for me since I have little knowledge of things palentological, but the insights into evolution are worth wading through. The man was a supreme essayist.
Sep 07, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
All I can say is that I really liked this book. A lot. Gd is in the details... yeah.
William Carlson
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the essays here. I've always enjoyed the ideas of evolution. The basics are easy to grasp and the ideas reach everywhere. I like Gould's writing, and his essays are very accessible. However, I don't like anatomy, so I was begging for a change when four or five essays were dedicated to it. Besides my personal interests, this is an all-around good read for those with an interest in evolution or biology. All Gould's essays are great for beginners as well! ...more
Jason Adams
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another great entry from Stephen Jay Gould. Really enjoyed his technique of feinting from one popular topic into a deeper scientific insight.
Nov 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ho letto varie raccolte di saggi di Gould, ma sempre abbastanza vecchie. E' la prima volta che leggo una raccolta fra la più recenti, e mi ha colpito sotto vari aspetti, qualcuno anche negativo.
Innanzi tutto si vede chiaramente che Gould è più maturo. Il suo stile leggendario acquista ancora più profondità, compaiono temi più attuali e "impegnati" (fra cui il rapporto uomo ambiente nella nostra società), e aumentano le incursioni in ambiti inaspettati (bellissimo il saggio sui meccanismi del ric
May 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, fiction-non
Mr. Gould was a Harvard professor and since the early 70's has been writing essays
on natural history, evolution, paleontology (study of prehistoric life). His essays were bundled
and published into books. Dinosaur in a haystack was probably his most notable.

I've liked his works as he's very accessible despite the technically scientific jargon and concepts he introduces. He doesn't dumb it down, but gives the reader enough to understand the importance of a particular essay. TO do this he sprinkles
A collection of essays from the evolutionist. Strong writing, as always, with that fire of deep passion for natural history. Unfortunately, its one I dont share (yes, in fact, there are actually subjects Im not interested in, or at least not passionate about). Also, it took me all of Hens Teeth and Horse's Toes and most of this book to realize just what's going on with these essays. It's a strange feeling when you agree wholeheartedly with somebody, as I do in this case, but find their style of ...more
Great book! It elucidated many aspects of the history of biology and the theory of evolution that I was unaware of, or about which I only had a sketchy idea. What I liked the most were the chapters where S. J. Gould presented a particular problem in biology, and explained the history of its related research, from the very first studies and hypotheses to answers uncovered by modern research and remaining sub-questions, going through winding paths of questions, hypotheses, research, and debates, a ...more
Otro libro de ensayos de Gould, otro libro de cinco estrellas. Ensayos sobre extinciones, sobre el origen de las partes del cuerpo de algunos animales, sobre cómo algunos naturalistas tenían ideas erróneas pero sus razonamientos no lo eran, sobre la memoria, sobre la decadencia del grupo de los simios frente a los monos (pese a que el ser humano esté en el grupo de los simios), sobre algunas criaturas de la explosión del cámbrico... Una delicia como siempre.
Daniel Golden
If you absolutely love evolution and you like it when authors use big words, you might like this book. Overall, I found half the essays interesting enough to read, and half boring enough to skip. Occasionally, Gould brings in an interesting annecdote to bring his points home, but there's a whole lot of sleep-inducing talk about skull shapes and such as well. I don't think I'll read another Stephen Jay Gould book for a while. ...more
Ernest Barker
Apr 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This book is the collected essays of Stephen Jay Gould. In delves into such things as geological time, climate change and frogs. I liked the book. It is easy to reads and held my attention well. If you are interested in Nature History and look books based on essays, this is a must read. Allow a few days to read it.
Jan 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another well written essay collection by Gould. Memorable ideas include:
- Finer points of the scientific method (Halley's argument for a maximum bound on the age of earth, not min)
- Tree vs. linear understanding of evolution
- Replacement, not refinement of scientific theories
Chuck Weiss
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in pop-paleontology
Typical Stephen Jay Gould reflections on evolution, the odd development of mammalian vertebrae, Darwinism and human nature. The book is a collection of some of his most famous essays, so I read each chapter just before bed.

Mar 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome overview of evolution, and really interesting examples of how life develops, why we have 5 fingers, etc. Great read.
Brett Berger
Dec 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More SGJ awesomeness.
Stephie Williams
Not his best.
Ken Bishop
Jul 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
See my comments on Ever Since Darwin. Gould tackles fun topics such as memory and ecology in this book of essays on natural history.
Antonio De Cunzo
Everyone should read SJG!
Nov 10, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
a very difficult read. much less enjoyable and understandable than other books by Gould
Isabelle Delisle
rated it really liked it
Jan 24, 2015
Alexis Raney
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Oct 05, 2012
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Stephen Jay Gould was a prominent American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation. Gould spent most of his career teaching at Harvard University and working at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Most of Gould's empirical research was on land snails. Gould

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