Of all the sciences, biology doubtless touches our lives in the most direct way. With new developments in recombinant DNA, cloning, new reproductive technologies, and environmental concerns, biology has taken on a significance perhaps greater than at any point in history.
Over the past one hundred fifty years or so, science has become increasingly subdivided. Correspondingly, the myth has appeared that it has become increasingly arcane and impenetrable to all but a handful of specialists. True, there have been a number of popular and accessible books on, for example, physics. The complexities of physics are, however, easily matched by the myriad subtleties and complexities of biology. Further, the history of biology is so immense that it is well-nigh impossible to cover all within the space limits set by the publisher. For these reasons, difficult decisions had to be made. I have spent more time on molecular biology, for example, than a classical biologist perhaps might like. I have all but passed over the Orient, since the history of eastern biology is a complete story in itself.