Search fro the Universal Ancestors: The Origins of Life. H. Hartman, J.G. Lawless and R Momson, eds. Blackwell Scientific Publications, Boston, 1987. 142 pp. $14.95 PB.

The purpose of this excellent book, originally prepared as a NASA report, is twofold. First, it is to summarize the major converging lines of experimental inquiry into the earliest phases of the evolution of life on Earth. Second, it is to look ahead, with recommendations for future research.

With 27 contributors, including several in the prima donna class, it is a wonder that the editors managed to maintain such a consistent tone of voice, avoiding on the one hand a circus of hobby horses and, on the other, a bland affirmation of received doctrine. Instead, it is a model of balance, with difficulties carefully pointed out.

I hope that the readers of this book will include textbook writers, television producers and others who...

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