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The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time

The Beak of the Finch: A Story of Evolution in Our Time 



  • Jonathan Weiner


  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 30, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067973337X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679733379
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.52 ounces


Book Description 

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

On a desert island in the heart of the Galapagos archipelago, where Darwin received his first inklings of the theory of evolution, two scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have spent twenty years proving that Darwin did not know the strength of his own theory.  For among the finches of Daphne Major, natural selection is neither rare nor slow: it is taking place by the hour, and we can watch.

In this dramatic story of groundbreaking scientific research, Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin’s finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself.  The Beak of the Finch is an elegantly written and compelling masterpiece of theory and explication in the tradition of Stephen Jay Gould.  

From the Back Cover

"The Beak of the Finch is brilliant . . . one of those rare books that permanently alter one’s view of nature and even of life and death." — Richard Preston, author of The Hot Zone

"Evocative writing, exhaustive research, and Weiner’s memorable portrait of the engaging Grants assure The Beak of the Finch membership in the select pantheon of science books that spark not just the intellect, but the imagination."
–Washington Post Book World

About the Author(s)

Jonathan Weiner, formerly a writer and editor for The Sciences, is the author of Planet Earth and The Next One Hundred Years.  He lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his wife and their two sons.  


Darwin’s fascinating finches., February 14, 2004

Although Creationists have long argued that evolution is "only a theory" which cannot be scientifically proven (see, for instance, THE HANDY-DANDY EVOLUTION REFUTER, Wheaton, Illinois), and that whatever processes the Creator used to create, those processes "are not now operating anywhere in the natural universe" (Duane Gish, EVOLUTION? THE FOSSILS SAY NO!), current evolutionary studies are now demonstrating what even Charles Darwin thought was impossible.

Darwin first introduced us to the finches that inhabit the Galapagos Islands in his ORIGIN OF THE SPECIES. Through their research since 1973, evolutionary scientists, Peter and Rosemary Grant, have discovered that Darwin’s finches are even more interesting than Darwin ever dreamed, and reveal that Darwin may not have known the strengths of his own theory. Jonathan Weiner’s Pulitzer-Prize winning book provides a fine introduction to evolutionary science, while also delivering conclusive proof that evolution is happening "in jittery motion," daily and hourly all around us (pp. 8-9). "The beak of the finch," Weiner writes, "is an icon of evolution the way the Bohr atom is an icon of modern physics, and the study of either one shows us more primal energy and eternal change than our minds are built to take in. Yet like the vista of the atoms, the vista of evolution in action, of evolution in the flesh, has enormous implications for our sense of reality, of what life is, and for our sense of power, of what we can do with life" (p. 112). For this reason, Weiner’s brilliant book should be considered required reading.

G. Merritt