Evolution books on the march

The New York Review of Books is running a combined review of three recent evolution books:

From DNA to Diversity: Molecular Genetics and the Evolution of Animal Design, by Sean B. Carroll, Jennifer K. Grenier, and Scott D. Weatherbee
Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo and the Making of the Animal Kingdom, by Sean B. Carroll
The Plausibility of Life:Resolving Darwin's Dilemma, by Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart

The review was written by Edward Ziff and Israel Rosenfeld, and it's a good long discussion of how the books fit into recent evolutionary theory, from Darwin to Hox genes.

While Carroll argues--a claim that is at the heart of Evo Devo--that embryological development gives us the deepest clues to the mechanisms of evolution, Kirschner and Gerhart move beyond embryology to show that metabolic and physiological processes are also critical to evolutionary change. Their approach, which they call the theory of "facilitated variation," attempts to show how the regulation of genes inside the embryo, as described by Carroll, is part of a larger set of processes that allow organisms to experiment with evolution in a tightly controlled way. According to this theory, the mutations, or variations, needed to drive evolutionary change can occur with little disruption either to the basic organization of an organism or to the core processes that make its cells function.

To see how they get to that conclusion, you have to read the review!