The Making of the Fittest

  • Winner, Phi Beta Kappa 2007 Science Book Award
  • Top Science Books of the Year (2006), USA Today
  • Top Science Books of the Year (2006), SEED
  • Best Sci-Tech Books of the year (2006), Library Journal

DNA is the genetic blueprint of all creatures — it contains the operating instructions for everyday life and for making the next generation. Very recently, an important new dimension of DNA has been revealed -- it contains a vast and detailed record of how species adapt and change. That is, DNA is a living chronicle of Evolution. We can now pinpoint the precise changes in DNA that have enabled the marvelous creatures that inhabit our planet to adapt to its many shifting and sometimes extreme environments, from the freezing waters of the Antarctic to the lush canopy of the rain forest. We finally understand not just how the fittest survive, but how they are made.

In the pages of this book, leading biologist and writer Sean Carroll takes readers on an exhilarating tour of this exquisite new record.  

Read an excerpt from the preface of The Making of the Fittest »


“Crime-scene investigators love DNA evidence. It can close a case that couldn’t be solved any other way. This fascinating book presents the DNA evidence for evolution, and anyone who reads it should agree that it’s an open-and-shut case. I hope The Making of the Fittest will make a difference in the one and only place where Darwin’s case is still seriously debated--the court of public opinion.”

Jonathan Weiner
Pulitzer-prize- winning author of The Beak of the Finch

“Sean Carroll is our plain-spoken emissary from the next great revolution in biology. His earlier book, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, provides a fine introduction to the amazing field called Evo Devo. Now in The Making of the Fittest he offers something even more fundamental--glimpses of what molecular genetics is revealing about the process and course of evolution. This book is fascinating, lucid, surprising, and (in the truest sense) essential.”

David Quammen
Author of The Reluctant Mr. Darwin and The Song of the Dodo

“Sean Carroll's gift as a writer is the way in which he invites his readers to see science from the inside and the ease with which he explains the scientific wonders of cutting-edge research in biology. Always captivating, always accessible, The Making of the Fittest is a book for all readers, and one that fulfills Darwin's promise that the science of evolution would ultimately illuminate every aspect of the study of life itself. In Carroll's hands, it surely does.”

Kenneth R. Miller
Author of Finding Darwin’s God

“Those of us who gasp in amazement at the ignorance of a certain percentage of the population must learn to accept that some people simply don't want to learn. Perhaps it hurts their pointed little heads.

“If a rational person were to read Sean B. Carroll's most recent pair of books, first Endless Forms Most Beautiful (2005) and then the just-published The Making of the Fittest, he or she would have no choice but to accept that the theory of evolution is fact. Not "fact" in quotation marks, to be picked apart by deluded doubters, but hard and simple truth. You and I are descended from a line of life so long that it stretches all the way back to bacteria.

“In The Making of the Fittest, Carroll titles his preface "Beyond Any Reasonable Doubt." That's because remarkable advances in DNA research now leave no doubt whatsoever that the genes and genomes (the genetic "map" of an organism) of every living thing on Earth are not only linked in fundamental patterns but change and adapt in ways so definable that we can see clearly such subtleties as the point in history at which our tricolour vision developed.

“We learned in Endless Forms that Evo Devo — the evolution of development — has debunked those who doubt evolution's ability to create complex organs. Yes, eyes can develop along logical lines of evolution.

“The Making of the Fittest hammers the last nail into the coffin of the pseudo-science of "intelligent design" by examining our good genes, junk genes and, most intriguing of all, the fossil genes within us that echo through eons of development.

“Carroll is not as rude and impatient as I am with those Luddites of the life sciences who, at the first hint of disagreement with their beliefs, stick their fingers in their ears and sing, "La la la." His book is friendly and charming and, by its conclusion, quietly devastating in its condemnation of stupidity. Read it and shout, "Hallelujah!"“

Peter Birnie
Vancouver Sun

“…so many things in this book that I haven't read before… I recommend it to everybody who wants to understand more because it is written in such simple yet detailed language, quite a pleasure to read. “

Ira Flatow
NPR “Science Friday”

“The rare scientist with an easygoing writing style”

Dan Vergano
USA Today, Best Science Books of 2006

“Carroll is an adept and wide-ranging writer… Reading The Making of the Fittest is like spending a few hours with an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic dinner companion”

Steve Olson
The Washington Post

“Conveying the excitement of current research while also providing a firm foundation of why we know what we know is a rare gift. In The Making of the Fittest, Carroll offers a graceful and insightful view of the explanatory power of evolution.”

Douglas Erwin
American Scientist

“excellent… Carrolls book will certainly help the public to understand evolution more clearly...”

Brian Charlesworth

“Best refutation of intelligent design”

SEED Magazine

“With fervor and clarity, Carroll amasses a glut of facts to refute the twisted logic of the anti-Darwinist camp”

Josie Glausiusz

“Students and teachers of biology will particularly benefit from his readable treatment of the evolutionary process. An essential addition to every school, public, and academic library.”

Library Journal

“a fast-paced look at how DNA demonstrates the evolutionary process... Carroll offers some provocative and convincing evidence.”

Publishers Weekly