Book review in The Virginia Quarterly Review; Charlottesville; 78(4):139-140, Autumn 2002; Anonymous.  See also
 Webbed Reprint Collection
This 'tree' is really a pyramidal neuron of cerebral cortex.  The axon exiting at bottom goes long distances, eventually splitting up into 10,000 small branchlets to make synapses with other brain cells.
William H. Calvin

University of Washington
Seattle WA 98195-1800 USA

The Virginia Quarterly Review
Copyright University of Virginia Autumn 2002

A Brain for All Seasons: Human Evolution and Abrupt Climate Change, by William H. Calvin.

There is something dizzying about William Calvin's books. Enormous erudition is displayed, with an effortless artistry that blends idiosyncracy and digression with wit, insight, and dramatic impact. He mixes very difficult and momentous topics with simple momentary observations, placing his enormous subjects into a personal, humanistic, and conversational perspective. A lot of rough edges and uncertainties are neglected in his presentation of controversial topics. This permits speculation to achieve a maximal impact. Generally, Calvin's instincts for the truth appear to be very acute and his understanding of the available data on a wide variety of subjects is remarkable. There is little doubt that exciting interest in the enormous social and evolutionary impact of weather is just the right thing to be doing at this point in the history of the world. In the process he awakens interest in so many subjects-ethnographic, paleontological, neurological, genetic, sociological, and so on. So long as one appreciates that this is a speculative synthesis, it is possible very safely to enjoy the brilliance and scope of the exposition, which is amusing, alarming, reassuring, and awe inspiring by turns. It is as if the reader is partaking of a conversation with a brilliant and well informed friend who is so full of ideas that no one else can get a word in edgewise. Chicago $25 || Home Page || Calvin publication list || The Bookshelf ||