New Tangled Bank Review: "The Best"

zimmercover220.jpgThe Tangled Bank just got a great review in CBE-Life Sciences Education, a journal from the American Society for Cell Biology about teaching science. Scientific journals roll out their reviews a lot more slowly than newspapers and magazines, but in this case, it was worth the wait. Randy Moore, a University of Minnesota biologist who has done great work in defense of the teaching of evolution, leaves me trying to decide which line I want to drop, blurb-like, onto my web site…

“The best textbook I’ve seen for a nonmajors introductory biology course about evolution.”

…or maybe–

The Tangled Bank is well-produced, up-to-date, readable, and exceptionally well illustrated. At no point does it falter.”

or maybe the last line of the review…

“Read The Tangled Bank. You won’t be disappointed.”

Thanks for the embarrassment of [blurb] riches.

0 thoughts on “New Tangled Bank Review: "The Best"

  1. John–The Kindle can’t handle the color illustrations in textbooks like the Tangled Bank. But there’s more technology for reading coming down the pike, so stay tuned…

  2. Carl:
    I downloaded your gratis first chapter and will use it in my intro bio class for majors. It covers biodiversity, a difficult multifaceted topic, extremely well at an introductory level. No other material (Nature editorials, IUCN pdfs, Millenium Ecosystem Assessment, etc) comes even close to the clarity or content of your concept based approach. My material is ecology and environment. With your chapter I can talk about species richness, latitudinal gradients in diversity, the fundamentals of why some places have more species than others (heat, moisture, and lack of inimical season=primary productivity, which means low latitudes) The phylogenetic context sets up contemporary conceptual thinking as an introduction to our third quarter that deals with common descent.

  3. Carl: I have a few more thoughts. I believe that Tangled Bank is majors material. Most majors do not understand the context or rationale for the approaches taken by the more detailed text book. Tangled Bank sets up the reasons and the intellectual orientation that a major needs to proceed into the detail into which most professors dive on day one.
    regards, Don

  4. That’s a good review. I liked how you handled human evolution too.

    Dr. Strong (Don), it’s a pretty good book to get. I used to teach first-year biology and 2nd-year ecology at university, and this book would have been a great reference. No doubt you’ll find parts of it very familiar, but having the familiar material in one book helps organize it into a teaching outline. Some of the colour illustrations are just excellent too….

    ….which leads me to suggest to Carl that maybe future editions could have a website access where teachers could download some of the graphics for powerpoint presentations, or have a DVD available for profs and teachers??? (plus I like Randy Moore’s suggestion about incorporating end of chapter questions/assignments).

    Back to Dr. Strong, if you can, you should buy it, or get your library to buy a copy. If you liked the first chapter, you should see some of the material in the other chapters. As I read it I was making mental lecture notes and wishing I’d had this when I did teach.

    [CZ: Daniel–You can go here to request powerpoint versions of the textbook: (Scroll down a bit to find the instructions)]

  5. “John–The Kindle can’t handle the color illustrations in textbooks like the Tangled Bank. But there’s more technology for reading coming down the pike, so stay tuned…”

    I hope you aren’t talking about the iPad (but you surely are.)

    I, for one, would far rather see illustrations in greyscale on a reflective, electronic paper screen (on a device with a battery life measured in weeks) than on in color on a transmissive LCD with a battery life measured in hours.

    If you are betting on the iPad, you are betting on a flashy toy made for playing games and watching videos, not a serious reading device for serious readers.

  6. Alright Carl! I request and you provide…even before I’ve requested. 🙂

    I’ll send this information to the prof who has taken over my biology/ecology courses.

  7. “Thanks for the embarrassment of riches.”,


    Either way, well Done!

    [CZ: Hah! Trust me, I’m speaking strictly metaphorically about my many choices for a blurb.]

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