I barely know where to start with this book. It was a challenging read. This was due in part to the large number of biological terms that are used regularly. The book does have a glossary, but it is far from complete. Ditto the index.
I have read several books about the origins of life over the years, but this is the best. It goes right down to the physics and chemistry of life, emphasizing the economics. By economics, I mean energy. The book analyzes the base forms of life (prokaryotes (bacteria), eukaryotes (us) and archezoa (some where in between).
I will curious to see what my bio-buddy's think of the book. It paints a picture of life that is almost Frankenstein-esque. Huge moving parts, mechanical do-dads, electric fields that rival lighting strikes, and the power of the slow burn. The slow burn is how we live… by very slowly burning our fuel, one electron at a time. A great deal is discussed about ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the coin of the energy realm inside your cells, and how it works. And, of course, evolution is present throughout. Discussions of how evolution did what it did are always fascinating.
I would love to summarize the book more, but it is so dense that to do so would require another book. I started highlighting it, but gave up. There is just too much new stuff there. I think I shall have to read it again some day. If your high school chemistry is OK, and your grasp of the basics of physics (you need energy to do stuff), then you should be able to follow the arguments.
It is absolutely amazing how much we have learned about the physics and chemistry of life during my lifetime. It is also very interesting how much we have yet to learn. One thing I am certain of, computing will play a central role. Biology will suck every cycle we can provide to aid in understanding us, and more.
I am not good with biology. Messy stuff. A Rube Goldberg invention of evolution. But it is us.
BTW: no mention of a god.
Lee Moller is a life-long skeptic and atheist and the author of The God Con.