I Have Landed The End of a Beginning in Natural History

I Have Landed The End of a Beginning in Natural History Here is bestselling scientist Stephen Jay Gould's tenth and final collection based on his remarkable series for Natural History magazine exactly 300 consecutive essays with never a month missed published from 1974 to 2001 Both an intellectually thrilling journey into the nature of scientific discovery and the most personal book he has ever published I Have Landed marks the end of a significant chapter in the career of one of the most acclaimed and widely read scientists of our time Gould writes about the themes that have defined his career which his readers have come to expect and celebrate casting new light upon them and conveying the ideas that science professionals exchange among themselves minus the technical jargon Here of course is Charles Darwin from his centrality to any sound scientific education to little known facts about his life Gould touches on subjects as far reaching and disparate as feathered dinosaurs the scourge of syphilis and the frustration of the man who identified it and Freud's evolutionary fantasy He writes brilliantly of Nabokov's delicately crafted drawings of butterflies and the true meaning of biological diversity And in the poignant title essay he details his grandfather's journey from Hungary to America where he arrived on September 11 1901 It is from his grandfather's journal entry of that day stating simply I have landed that the book's title was drawn This landing occurred 100 years to the day before our greatest recent tragedy also explored but with optimism in the concluding section of the book Presented in eight parts I Have Landed begins with a remembrance of a moment of wonder from childhood In Part II Gould explains that humanistic disciplines are not antithetical to theoretical or applied sciences Rather they often share a commonality of method and motivation with great potential to enhance the achievements of each other an assertion perfectly supported by essays on such notables as Nabokov and Frederic Church Part III contains what no Gould collection would be complete without his always compelling mini intellectual biographies which render each subject and his work deserving of reevaluation and renewed significance In this collection of figures compelling and strange Gould exercises one of his greatest strengths the ability to reveal a significant scientific concept through a finely crafted and sympathetic portrait of the person behind the science Turning his pen to three key figures Sigmund Freud Isabelle Duncan and E Ray Lankester the latter an unlikely attendee of the funeral of Karl Marx he highlights the effect of the Darwinian revolution and its resonance on their lives and work Part IV encourages the reader through what Gould calls intellectual paleontology to consider scientific theories of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in a new light and to recognize the limitations our own place in history may impose on our understanding of those ideas Part V explores the op ed genre and includes two essays with differing linguistic formats which address the continual tug of war between the study of evolution and creationism In subseuent essays in true Gould fashion we are treated to moments of good humor especially when he leads us to topics that bring him obvious delight such as Dorothy Sayers novels and his enduring love of baseball and all its dramas There is an ardent admiration of the topsy turvy world of Gilbert and Sullivan wonderfully demonstrated in the jacket illustration who are not above inclusion in all things evolutionary This is truly Gould's most personal work to date How fitting that this final collection should be his most revealing and in content the one that reflects most clearly the complexity breadth of knowledge and optimism that characterize Gould himself I Have Landed succeeds in reinforcing Gould's underlying and constant theme from the series' commencement thirty years ago the study of our own scientific intellectual and emotional evolution bringing reader and author alike to what can only be described as a brilliantly written and very natural conclusion From the Hardcover edition

10 thoughts on “I Have Landed The End of a Beginning in Natural History

  1. says:

    Why Not in Wonderland?Once again I have taken up a book of Stephen Jay Gould's essays There is no doubt that he was one of the best essayists of our times writing with humor intelligence and feeling But there is one theme that comes up far too often in his later essays to be ignored This theme is best summarized in his own words these two great tools of human understanding science and religion operate in a complementary not contrary fashion in their totally separa

  2. says:

    Gould overcomitted himself to a number of big ideas over the course of his career including but not limited to punctuated euilibrium spandrels and his ideological objection to evolutionary psychology as well as introducing such stultifying notions as NOMA but his powers of explanation have nevertheless been so highly praised by otherwise intellectually capable people that I had to check him out for myself Overall his arguments lack the force and clarity of other titan

  3. says:

    Stephen Jay Gould's collections of essays on natural history found me at the right moment in my twenties when I had plenty of time to read and a mind that was primed for his wisdom Now that I'm entering my sixth decade it's a comfort to me to be able to still reach for him and while I think the professor has a lot less to teach me now I like to think it's because many of those lessons actually got through to meWhat makes the essays remarkable is not that they offer layper

  4. says:

    This is the tenth and final collection of essays from Stephen Jay Gould with most of these essays coming from his regular monthly essay in Natural History magazine And I am uite sorry that I have read all of the collections for that means an era has ended in my reading life But these essays in this current volume most having to do with some aspect of natural history and or evolution are very good and in some cases very personal; and I recommend this book without reservationT

  5. says:

    Gould is one of the all time great essayists and this final volume of his work in the form is well worth picking upSome of the essays are as good as anything he ever wrote I'd point at the title essay The First Day of the Rest of Our Life and The Great Physiologist of Heidelberg in particular Others especially the shorter ones not written for Natural History magazine are a bit thin Still the good definitely outweighs the less goodThe final section a uartet of essays written in re

  6. says:

    I enjoy reading Gould and respect his efforts to avoid dumbing down and oversimplifying discussions in his essays but I do believe his description of himself as a street kid is fairly silly and he does insist on it so in this collection This was one of those books which I could not resist arguing with the author in pencil in the margins

  7. says:

    The usual mixture of essays Most of them connected in one way or another to Darwin He mentions that Origin was published in 1859 probably around 50 times Some personal stuff like the title about his grandfather arriving in America on 911 in 1901 And about the other event 100 years laterOne about Nabokov arguing that he would have been or was a scientist that surpasses his fame as a novelist I liked the essay about the only guy present at Marx’ funeral who was not a socialist but a firm

  8. says:

    The tenth and final collectionI was a little bit disconcerted when I saw the title of this Stephen Jay Gould's last collection of essays I thought has he anticipated his own sadly premature death with the metaphoric I Have Landed or is this a kind of melancholy coincidence or perhaps I am reading into the title something different from what it warrants?As it turns out I Have Landed is not a reference to the Lethe shore of the poet but a reference to his grandfather's arrival at Ellis Island

  9. says:

    I feel guilty for not liking this book Stephen Jay Gould is brilliant and well read and well spoken and highly respected in both his field and as a popular essayist But I hate this book There's hardly an essay therein that I was able to read in its entirety Gould is much too long winded; couple that with a fascination for minutia and obscure historical subjects and your eyes glaze over and you find yourself skipping to every third word then every other paragraph then conclusion And frankly Gould

  10. says:

    Like many people I am an admirer of Stephen Jay Gould This collection of essays like many of his works is full of wonder passion and consideration He explores many topics researches into the history of things to show how ideas change and like the slow movement of geological time so with the generations do our ideas change too Gould muses on them reflects on them and often presents how he thinks we can do betterThere isn't much overarching philosophy here Gould is pretty focused on topic with each es

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About the Author: Stephen Jay Gould

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 YorkMost of Gould's empirical research was on land snails Gould