The Lives of a Cell

The Lives of a Cell: notes of a biology watcher
by Lewis Thomas



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Many interesting ideas, thoughts, and observations are presented in this philosophical view of biology. The book is recommended for the established and widely read biologist, but since the author seems to assume an existing knowledge on the part of the reader and since a number of rather unrelated areas are discussed, the volume is not highly recommended for the general biology student. Reference notes are provided for each chapter, but there is no index.

--Choice, 11 (November 1974), p. 1339. (From Book Review Digest 1974).

How to praise Dr. Thomas most accurately? One wonders. A reviewer who concentrates upon Dr. Thomas's effortless, beautifully-toned style, even to the point of claiming that many of the 29 essays in this book are masterpieces of the "art of the essay," would direct attention away from the sheer amount of scientific information these slender essays contain. A reviewer who deals with the book as "science" would be forced, by Dr. Thomas's marvelous use of paradox, to admit that the book might not yield its wisdom at a single reading. One might as well rise to the higher speculation that [this book] anticipates the kind of writing that will appear more and more frequently as scientists take on the language of poetry in order to communicate human truths too mysterious for old-fashioned common sense.

--Reviewed by J. C. Oates in New York Times Book Review, (May 1974), p. 2. (From Book Review Digest 1974).