An Urchin in the Storm

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An Urchin in the Storm
An Urchin in the Storm.jpg
AuthorStephen Jay Gould
IllustratorDavid Levine
CountryUnited States
History of science
PublisherW.W. Norton
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardcover and Paperback)
Pages255 pp.
574 19
LC ClassQH311 .G68 1987
Preceded byTime's Arrow, Time's Cycle 
Followed byWonderful Life 

An Urchin in the Storm is a 1987 essay collection from paleontologist and science writer Stephen Jay Gould.


All but one of the essays had originally appeared in The New York Review of Books. Grouped by theme, the sections of the book deal respectively with the irreducibility of history (and the pleasures and challenges of contingency) in its two principal domains of life and the earth, nature's complexity, the theory and consequences of biological determinism, and rationalism in explanation. Thus it is philosophically the most important of Gould's works - as befits a book dedicated to Peter Medawar and especially Isaiah Berlin, since the latter shares with Gould a commitment against determinism, even though Gould had a Marxist background while Berlin is quintessentially anti-Marxist.

It was reviewed in The New York Times by Michiko Kakutani, who noted that although the pieces were technically book reviews, Gould "tends to use the subject at hand as a jumping-off point for more general discussions". Gould argued against Creationism and biological determinism, criticizing sociobiology and Arthur Jensen's theories about race and intelligence. Other subjects discussed included the nature of geological time and change, the 19th century Devonian controversy, which involved the identification of a major period of earth history, and the work of biologists Barbara McClintock, E. E. Just, G. E. Hutchinson, and Lewis Thomas.[1]


  1. ^ "New York Times Review". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2012.