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  • Some Assembly Required

  • Decoding Four Billion Years of Life, from Ancient Fossils to DNA
  • By: Neil Shubin
  • Narrated by: Marc Cashman
  • Length: 7 hrs and 28 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: Science & Engineering, Science
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (8 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The author of the best-selling Your Inner Fish gives us a lively and accessible account of the great transformations in the history of life on Earth - a new view of the evolution of human and animal life that explains how the incredible diversity of life on our planet came to be.

Over billions of years, ancient fish evolved to walk on land, reptiles transformed into birds that fly, and apelike primates evolved into humans that walk on two legs, talk, and write. For more than a century, paleontologists have traveled the globe to find fossils that show how such changes have happened.

We have now arrived at a remarkable moment - prehistoric fossils coupled with new DNA technology have given us the tools to answer some of the basic questions of our existence: How do big changes in evolution happen? Is our presence on Earth the product of mere chance? This new science reveals a multibillion-year evolutionary history filled with twists and turns, trial and error, accident and invention.

In Some Assembly Required, Neil Shubin takes listeners on a journey of discovery spanning centuries, as explorers and scientists seek to understand the origins of life's immense diversity.

©2020 Neil Shubin (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"An engaging, must-read for anyone with an interest in evolution." (Library Journal starred review)

"A rollicking ride.... It’s light of touch, anecdote-rich and funny...satisfyingly informative.... Fossils, DNA, scientists with a penchant for suits of armour - what’s not to love?" (BBC Wildlife Magazine)

"Another winner from Dr. Shubin, who skillfully and thoughtfully steers us through the incredibly fascinating world of DNA and fossils. Dr. Shubin’s clear and engaging writing rewards us with a deeper understanding of how all life on our planet is interconnected. Steeped in the paradigm of evolutionary theory, he inspires us to think more deeply about our connectedness with the natural world. Charles Darwin would applaud Dr. Shubin’s clear explanations and insightful rendering of the incontrovertible evidence for the evolution of all life on planet Earth." (Donald Johanson, director, Institute of Human Origins; discoverer of "Lucy")

What listeners say about Some Assembly Required

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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

Easy to follow, informative, interesting examples, just so easy to listen to. Scientific, but not over complicated.

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  • MSB
  • 10-04-2020

Interesting but thin. ANNOYING narration

The book itself is kind of fun. I don't usually expect to LOL at non-fiction, but I did at this one. Very high-level, but a good explication of context and historical development of the science, not just evolutionary history.

However, the narration is really distracting. Maybe it's just me, but when someone. Stops every. Couple of words. In the middle of. A sentence. It drives me bonkers. Marc Cashman does that. Other Audible narrators that I've listened to have had a much more flowing style, in which you can actually tell what the sentence structure is, among other things.

The narration is annoying enough that I'm seriously considering trading this in on something else, despite not having finished it and finding the story interesting.

Perhaps it won't bother others. I can't listen to Michael Barbaro's "The Daily," either. Barbaro has the same kind of stop-and-go cadence to his delivery, only even more extreme, and it drives me nuts. And yet that show is well-regarded.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Peter
  • 17-04-2020

All around great

Neil Shubin's work is a fascinating! He walks the reader through some of the most amazing aspects of the workings of life. His style is easy to understand and it makes use of great examples. Well narrated, too.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-01-2021

A beautiful story of evolution and genetics

Does an amazing job at simplifying difficult concepts while preserving the scientific theories behind them. I actually liked this better than Your Inner Fish. If you’ve ever wondered how lungs, feathers, or even memories evolved listen to this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Leslie RP
  • 21-09-2020

Great

Really like Neil Shubin books. I’ve ready read ‘Inner Fish’ and it’s even better through audio book. Narrator Marc Cashman is terrific for this type of content as it feels like the author is reading it. Great content he really knows how to communicate a difficult subject for a laywoman to understand. Highly recommend if you like science.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 30-05-2020

Good book,

Clearly written for the non scientist. Narration is easy to listen to. I recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jd
  • 22-03-2020

the great DNA programming language

This book provides an up to date view of where evolution and DNA science is at the moment. It describes the history of the scientists, and the theories and science that got us here. Neil Shubin gives us all the details, and doesn’t shy away from the technical terms, which is a good thing. I’ll probably have to re-listen to it, and do supplemental research, just to understand it all.

The book describes DNA and the genes as these intricate building blocks that have randomly (with the help of environment and survival of the fittest) changed over millions and billions of years to eventually create us humans. He describes how fish evolved into amphibians, which evolved into reptiles, which evolved into birds and mammals.

Current scientists are just at the beginning of understanding how all our genes work, and how that affects our brains. As our scientists continue to understand how DNA and genes work, we may eventually find out how to fully utilize the DNA programming language to create amazing biological enhancements.

The book doesn’t talk much about how DNA came into being. But that is where the debate begins between intelligent design and random series of events. The book does talk about what if the dinosaurs hadn’t had a mass extinction, and uses the analogy of “It’s a Wonderful Life” movie, where God via his angel, Clarence, shows George Bailey what life would be like if George hadn’t existed.

For me, this book explains very well what DNA is, and how genes can change to form new life. We will need more genetic research scientists to keep improving our knowledge in this area. No matter if this DNA programming language was created from a stew of chemicals and elements, or an intelligent designer created it, this DNA language is what we have now, and need to continue to do the deep fundamental research. This will help humanity the most!! (ie. Finding out how to stop cancer and viruses before they kill us, ect).

1 person found this helpful

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  • James
  • 19-03-2020

Outstanding like his first book

If your a southern Baptist. It my be beyond your grasp. It’s a very well organized history up to where we are now. It also covers in depth where we at now. A small amount of 100 level biology will help you move along well with the author. Enjoy I certainly did.

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  • TK
  • 23-07-2021

A Must Read

One of the best I've read. Great research. Momentous discovery. The implications are staggering. Nobel Prize?

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  • Jacob Potvin
  • 01-04-2021

mollusk dna ftw

shrimp have sonic hedgehog too woowoowoo. listened about 90 minutes at a time to be prove how tough i am.

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  • Henry
  • 25-03-2021

A good listen

Liked the tone of the narration and easy story to follow. Learned a few things along the way.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 27-05-2020

Great and fascinating story

A Fascinating story with many twists and turns pointing to the molecular nature of the complexity of life.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-07-2020

Evolutionary biology transformed

An excellent explanation by a professional palaeontologists of how the field has been transformed by insights from molecular biology, genetics embryology and using new technology including gene sequencers and crispr. A really good story well told

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