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Gee, Henry 1962-

GEE, Henry 1962-

PERSONAL: Born 1962, in London, England. Education: University of Leeds, B.S., 1984; University of Cambridge, Ph.D., 1991.

ADDRESSES: Office—Nature, Porters South, 4 Crinan St., London N1 9XW, England. Agent—Jill Grinberg, Anderson Grinberg Literary Management Inc., 266 W. 23rd St., Ste. 3, New York, NY 10011.

CAREER: Writer, editor, and zoologist.

MEMBER: Association of British Science Writers.

WRITINGS:

Before the Backbone: Views on the Origin of the Vertebrates, Chapman and Hall (New York, NY), 1996.

In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life, Free Press (New York, NY), 1999.

Shaking the Tree: Readings from Nature in the History of Life, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2000.

(Editor) Rise of the Dragon, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2001.

A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Handbook for Travelers in the Mesozoic, Barrons Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 2003.

Jacob's Ladder: The History of the Human Genome, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 2004.

The Science of Middle-Earth, Cold Spring Press (Cold Spring Harbor, NY), 2004.

Between Apes and Angels: The New Book of Human Evolution, Barrons Educational Series (Hauppauge, NY), 2005.

Author of Nature's science-fiction column "Futures." Also is a contributor to numerous periodicals, including Scientific American, London Review of Books, Focus, New Zealand Herald, Bangkok Post, Japan Times, Scientific American, and the Daily Express.

SIDELIGHTS: Writer, editor, and zoologist Henry Gee is no stranger to complexities. Tackling such topics as developmental and molecular biology, Gee is skillful at considering all theories when developing his own opinions. He addresses these and many other topics as a contributor to a number of scientific and news publications, including the New Zealand Herald, Bangkok Post, Japan Times, Scientific American, and the London Review of Books. Paleontology is also a special interest of Gee's, and he has written about the subject in a number of his books. Gee has also served as a contributor to BBC's science radio programming, and is a member of the Association of British Science Writers.

Gee's first published book, Before the Backbone: Views on the Origin of the Vertebrates, is one example of the author's enthusiasm for the investigation of the origin of vertebrates. Written with undergraduate students in mind, the book serves as an overview of the classical theories of the origins of chordates; Gee's inclusions seek to update readers on recent contributions from cladistics and molecular biology. B. K. Hall in Choice commended Gee for "explicitly resist[ing] erecting his own scheme" in the midst of doing a "masterly job of evaluating everyone else's" theories. R. Glenn Northcutt, a reviewer in Science, agreed that Gee's "treatment of all theories of vertebrate origins is admirable." Northcutt stated that "In an … eloquent conclusions section Gee reiterates his intent to stimulate discussion rather than present a new theory in this period of rapid discovery unparalleled since the turn of the [twentieth] century." Reviewers had much to praise for Gee's efforts in Before the Backbone. "It is informed, lively and well written," concluded T. J. Horder in a review for the Quarterly Review of Biology.

Gee concentrated on the field of cladistics—looking at the world in terms of evolutionary patterns—in his next book, In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life. With this work Gee discusses the different techniques used to measure deep and ordinary time, and how that influences evolutionary biology and paleontology. A Publishers Weekly reviewer asserted that Gee does "a superb job of explaining the basics of cladistics and of revealing its use in the controversies swirling around the origins of birds and of humans." Gilbert Taylor in Booklist commented that Gee "energetically campaigns for the use of the fundamental tool of science, hypothetical thinking, within his own field."

In 2003, Gee published the in-depth dinosaur book A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Handbook for Travelers in the Mesozoic. Geared toward students, the book serves as an introduction to dinosaurs from the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods. While some of the dinosaurs featured are well known, Gee includes many lesser-known kinds as well. Gee also asserts in his introduction that while some information in the book is fact, other information is theory or extrapolation. Designed in a similar format as a field guide to birds, the book contains detailed and plentiful illustrations. Critics had many positive reviews to share regarding A Field Guide to Dinosaurs. Many found its combination of format, text, and drawings to be an attractive combination. "Handsome and engrossing, this book should have a large and appreciative audience," wrote Patricia Manning in a review for the School Library Journal. On a similar note, Booklist contributor Ed Sullivan observed, "The fascinating, attractively designed, and beautifully illustrated book is sure to pique imaginations."

Gee's next book release was 2004's Jacob's Ladder: The History of the Human Genome. The work chronicles the history of genetics, and how our knowledge of genetics has changed from ancient times to the present. Gee's work is "well written and illuminating," wrote a Kirkus Reviews contributor. Indeed, many reviewers found Gee's presentation of this sometimes complicated topic to be accessible and easy to understand. "This is a layman's guide to the history of evolutionary or developmental biology," commented a Contemporary Review contributor.

Having set up the Nature Science Update web zine, Gee has served as an editor and author for the international science journal since 1987; he also is the author of a science-fiction column in Nature's titled "Futures."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

American Scientist, March, 2000, Peter J. Bowler, review of In Search of Deep Time: Beyond the Fossil Record to a New History of Life, p. 169.

Audubon, May, 2000, Christopher Camuto, review of In Search of Deep Time, p. 104.

Booklist, December 1, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of In Search of Deep Time, p. 672; August, 2003, Ed Sullivan, review of A Field Guide to Dinosaurs: The Essential Handbook for Travelers in the Mesozoic, p. 1970.

Choice, February, 1997, B. K. Hall, review of Before the Backbone: Views on the Origin of the Vertebrates, p. 990.

Contemporary Review, September, 2004, review of Jacob's Ladder: The History of the Human Genome, p. 191.

Isis, March, 2001, Joseph Slowinski, review of In Search of Deep Time, p. 133.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2004, review of Jacob's Ladder, p. 482.

Library Journal, July, 2004, Rita Hoots, review of Jacob's Ladder, p. 113.

Publishers Weekly, November 15, 1999, review of In Search of Deep Time, p. 49; April 17, 2000, review of Shaking the Tree: Readings From Nature in the History of Life, p. 61; February 24, 2003, review of A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, p. 69.

Quarterly Review of Biology, June, 1998, T. J. Horder, review of Before the Backbone, p. 175; December, 2000, Olivier Rieppel, review of In Search of Deep Time, p. 446; March, 2001, Michael T. Ghiselin, review of Shaking the Tree, p. 71; June, 2003, Lawrence J. Flynn, review of Rise of the Dragon: Readings from Nature on the Chinese Fossil Record, p. 216.

School Library Journal, September, 2003, Patricia Manning, review of A Field Guide to Dinosaurs, p. 210.

Science, December 6, 1996, R. Glenn Northcutt, review of Before the Backbone, p. 1629.

Science News, July 24, 2004, review of Jacob's Ladder, p. 63.

ONLINE

Henry Gee Home Page, http://www.henrygee.org.uk (August 18, 2005).

Popular Science Online, http://www.popularscience.co.uk/ (August 18, 2005), review of The Science of Middle-Earth.

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