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October 7, 1950

A History of Biology: A General Introduction to the Study of Living Things

JAMA. 1950;144(6):507. doi:10.1001/jama.1950.02920060069039

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This book, which first appeared in 1931, has been out of print for some years. The author attempts to give in simple language a critical survey of the historical development of biologic problems. He finds mechanistic interpretations of life unsatisfying, but recognizes that the mechanistic outlook has been responsible for far-reaching biologic investigations. He is, moreover, conscious of the danger of confounding physical with metaphysical issues. The book has three parts: (1) "The Older Biology," (2) "The Historical Foundations of Modern Biology" and (3) "Emergence of Main Themes of Contemporary Biology." There are some controversial statements. The chapter on evolution is interesting, particularly the discussion of Darwin's theory. The battle of evolution, the author says, "is now a stricken field; on the other hand, as to the mechanism of the directive forces of evolution, we are still in utter doubt." Among the numerous illustrations is a photograph of a skeleton

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