Matt Ridley welcomes Richard Dawkins’s genetic pilgrimage, The Ancestor’s Tale

“Evolution is both a process and a narrative; a science and a history. Richard Dawkins has made himself the foremost philosopher of the process, exploring with ruthless and surprising logic how bodies can be best understood as vehicles for the propagation of genes. But until now he has left the history to others such as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Fortey: the grand narrative of how (some) microbes became men over three billion years. Now, in this extraordinary book, Dawkins turns chronicler.

He does so with a clever twist that avoids the perennial problem of evolutionary history-telling: how not to make it sound like an inevitable progression towards complexity and us. After all, bacteria and worms did not ‘fail’ to evolve into mammals. You could argue the opposite: that they were so good at being what they were that our ancestors had to invent a different way of living. Dawkins’s twist is to tell the story backwards, starting with us.”

More here from Matt Ridley (picture on left) in The Guardian.