The fact that studying means reading books does not always seem to be a matter of course in the age of the internet. The colorful and partly animated world is so tempting that the textbook seems to have been forgotten. All the better that there is now a textbook for the first biology semester in Purves' "Biology" that "gives weight in every respect" to studies in the classic sense.
In addition to the 3-kilo tome by Campbell and Reeves, which after several editions at Elsevier is now back from the parent company Pearson and available as an updated edition, the Elsevier publishing house, which has lost an introductory work, has tried to find an alternative which is also published by the Mainz zoologist Jürgen Markl: With Purves et al."Biology" has succeeded in this perfectly. A rogue who thinks ill of the book cover - a bright green red-eyed frog adorned "old Cambell", now two specimens of the same species invite you to study in "Purves".
As befits an introductory textbook, the book, divided into eight parts, spans a wide arc from cell biology to genetics and physiology to ecology and biogeography and is quite modern at the same time. Contrary to the fear that such a mammoth project could only be about the lowest common denominator in terms of content, current knowledge is presented in an appealing manner in many places.
The four authors attach great importance to communicating research methods that have contributed to the clarification of important biological questions. They also try to find an interesting introduction to the individual chapters in a didactically appealing way using small stories. There is something to be learned about Stephen Hawkings and his illness or about arthrosis, or the well-known film Jurassic Parc is used as an introduction to the topic of genetic engineering. In this way, obviously academic content is linked to everyday life, regardless of whether it is "Science" or "Science Fiction".
Despite its large size, "Purves" is easy to read. This is also due to the fluent translation and pleasant layout. The multicolored pages throughout arouse curiosity – as is generally the case with American textbooks – and make learning a real pleasure.
In view of the increasing debate about creationism and "intelligent design", an introduction to the evolutionary framework of biology is particularly worth mentioning - the book feels committed to this concept on all 1577 pages. A series of essays by well-known German scientists on current topics such as bioethics, stem cell research or the careful use of resources are a useful addition to the textbook.
In other words: the introductory semesters in biology studies have never been easier to master - although it should not be forgotten that there are "individual textbooks" that are suitable for the individual parts, which advanced students should then use in any case!
If you would like to invest something in addition to the quite proud purchase price - but justified compared to usual market prices - we recommend the CD with all illustrations, which are not only available as individual files but also in Powerpoint format. Because it is difficult to scan images from a thick rind with an ordinary scanner.
And if you can't do without clicking, cut and paste or "activities" in the form of flash animations, there is a "companion website" where you can also view the content of the latest American edition can.