Book Review: Consider the Platypus - Maggie Ryan Sandford

Book cover featuring a Platypus.This is a fluffy and breezy wander through some of the oddities thrown up be evolution. It's also well illustrated and, luckily, most of the picture suit eInk very well.

Of great interest to me were the tantalising asides - for example, a formerly enslaved man taught Darwin the art of taxidermy although very little is known about him. The book is full of delightfully distracting details like that. Along with extensive quoting from Darwin, it really helps to contextualise the history of our knowledge of evolution.

Because it is a rather epic work, parts of it are frustratingly short. And, with no footnotes or references, it feels like it has a number of unnecessary dead-ends.

By its nature, the book becomes a little repetitive - it is essentially a collection of essay-length Top-Trump cards, reciting various facts about each animal. Great for dipping in to, but a bit of a slog if read in one sitting.

It is a casual ramble through evolution. Unlike, say, Mary Roach, the author doesn't insert herself into the story. She knows that the facts are interesting enough to stand on their own. The language is pretty accessible - although I daresay the slang will date quickly.

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