1995 | 576 Pages | ISBN: 0961580828 | PDF | 2 MB
This is a remarkable book, despite some flaws. In a fast paced, informal, conversational voice, von Hippel presents an incredible amount of information, most of it very interesting. The emphasis is on physiology, not anatomy, and it is grounded in evolutionary concepts. Thus, while things work remarkably well, designs are certainly not what you would get starting from scratch – although Hippel sometimes shows that there are so many conflicting constraints that many apparently simpler designs would not work. Hippel, a doctor, is interested in clinical problems and treatments, as well as evolution and how things work in other life forms. He is also the type of scientist who draws scientific lessons from the most mundane phenomenon of everyday life. I personally enjoyed his sense of humor and crusty manner, although you might not if you are a lawyer or politician. The problem with the book is that while Hippel explains things clearly enough, there is a limit to how well you can convey material without the graphical aids found in good textbooks, nor is Hippel that clear in his own mind about just what kind of background he expects his readers to have. I tended to enjoy most of the sections I was not fully following: I would read quickly and pick up interesting nuggets. Still, readers without any background in molecular biology are likely to miss a lot and may have difficulty with the first few chapters.