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1. On the origin of species by means
2. Charles and Emma: The Darwins'
3. The Variation of Animals and Plants
4. The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary
5. Charles Darwin: A Biography, Vol.
6. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
7. The Works of Charles Darwin, Volume
8. Darwin: The Life of a Tormented
9. The Expression of the Emotions
10. From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin's
11. The Darwin Myth: The Life and
12. Who Was Charles Darwin? (Who Was...?)
13. The Expression of Emotion in Man
14. On the Origin of Species: The
15. Charles Darwin's On the Origin
16. The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin
17. The Power of Movement in Plants
18. The Variation of Animals and Plants
19. Charles Darwin: A Biography, Vol.
20. Charles Darwin and the Beagle

1. On the origin of species by means of natural selection,: Or, The preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life
by Charles Darwin
Hardcover: 501 Pages (1911)
-- used & new: US$49.84
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Asin: B00087QUH2
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

1-0 out of 5 stars wrong
evolution is the only way to explain creation without a creator and therefore the most accepted.

5-0 out of 5 stars One of those things that you have to read
Charles Darwin is one of the select few that has introduced a concept that has shaped the thinking of mankind.Leaving aside the science -v- faith issues, this is one of the pieces of literary work and research that you have to read

5-0 out of 5 stars the new bible
Excellant book ,should replace bible,koran and other nonsense.It is said by some of the reviewers that his theory lacks proof, and at the time it did, some thing Darwin himself admitted within the book.Later as also predicted by Darwin his theory as been proven time and again by science not superstition.

5-0 out of 5 stars Religion does not refute science
First, This book is free which is worth five stars in it's own right. The e-book is the new revolution and will create a better society. Now, let me acknowledge that I am catholic. Then let me acknowledge that this book is a fully interesting and wonderful read. It really is marvelous to think of genetic drift and I am completly in awe of the ramifications. As far as genetic drift is concerned the theory of evolution has no equal. It is a great explanation on the change in species and the statistics only compound the fact that this is not only possible, but actual. I accept this theory whole heartedly. I am confused on the paradox of the singularity, meaning the statistics of the individual. For mutation must occur in an individual before it can be passed on, but of course that individual must mate with another that does not contain the mutation. Considering a recessive gene how could the offspring be given that advantage if they don't contain the full mutation. If they don't have an advantage then what would be the imputus for increased spreading of the gene. Similiar to the classic chicken or the egg question. But yet blue eyes are recessive and yet here I sit with blue eyes, which means the initial mutation had to occur, and then enough offspring created to allow the recessive gene to express, or maybe the recessive gene was created then propogated and then finally expressed, or maybe two people simultaneously mutated... and oh no I've gone cross-eyed. Not even to mention the ramifications of new chromosomes or broken chromosomes, how are these passed on if an individual mututates on this scale?... But I feel my reaction (cautious inspection without blind obedience) is how all scientist, nay rational beings, should take all arguments. Otherwise science is no better than a cult. So read the book, it is excellent, but look for holes and see if you could refine or refute the argument. That is how progress develops. (my oppinion is that refinement will be what happens, but then again, who am I to say that) Long Story short, a great book and interesting read. Five stars from this catholic.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Great Historical Piece
Variations exist within populations that compete for scarce resources needed for survival, and many of these variations not only affect the ability of the individual to compete, but also can be passed onto children. Those variations better suited for competition will be passed on at a higher rate than those that are less suited for competition due to higher rates of survival. In this way, nature itself non-randomly selects those variations most fit, thus diversifying populations, creating branches in the Tree of Life.

While this book is 150 years out of date, and the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection has been significantly modified since its publication (especially since the discovery of DNA and the mechanisms present in both heredity and mutation), the main principles of Darwin's argument, stated in the above paragraph, remain the core of evolutionary science. This is an important work in the history of science, one that everyone should read for historical literacy. If, however, one is seeking to learn the modern evidence for evolution, collected both through laboratory testing and through field observations, then Why Evolution is True by Jerry Coyne, or The Greatest Show On Earth by Richard Dawkins would be better choices. Indeed, while the hierarchy of shared characteristics amongst animals, and the hierarchy of interspecies variations interpreted in light of the aforementioned hierarchy of shared characteristics itself constitutes great evidence for common descent, and Darwin's argument for natural selection as the mechanism by which diversity within the animal kingdom has increased remains extremely convincing and effective, it is best to familiarize one's self with all of the modern data, and all of the independently arrived at trees of life from non-overlapping fields of study that are all *gasp* identical. ... Read more

2. Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith
by Deborah Heiligman
Hardcover: 272 Pages (2009-01-06)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$10.62
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Asin: 0805087214
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, his revolutionary tract on evolution and the fundamental ideas involved, in 1859. Nearly 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. Challenges about teaching the theory of evolution in schools occur annually all over the country. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage: his wife, Emma, was quite religious, and her faith gave Charles a lot to think about as he worked on a theory that continues to spark intense debates.
Deborah Heiligman's new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa. The end result is an engaging exploration of history, science, and religion for young readers.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars surprising life of Darwin!
This book humanizes Charles Darwin in a way no other has- at least that I have read. I love that we have so many letters he wrote in his lifetime.What I had known about Darwin, is the very popular car emblem of the letters spelling Darwin eating the Christian fish.Darwin was responsible for the theory of evolution and atheism.From the evidence of his many letters, Charles Darwin was a wonderful, warm, loving human being.That he had questions of faith in light of his scientific studies and findings was not surprising.What many believed back then, many still believe today- that the bible must be taken literally.To not do so, is blasphemous.I stand by the proclamation of the late Pope John Paul 2; there is certainly room for evolution in the world of faith and Christianity.

3-0 out of 5 stars Strong content, weak style
STRENGTHS: There are many reasons for middle school and high school students to read this book. It presents a very human picture of a famous scientist while carefully explaining his achievements. It offers a lot of insight into the pros and cons of committing to a permanent relationship, along with the hard work and ongoing willingness to compromise that it takes to sustain it. Darwin's wife Emma is strongly drawn and exemplifies the extent to which a life partner can be a tremendous support (and ongoing challenge) to someone as devoted to his work as Darwin was. There is an excellent ongoing explanation of the Christian religious beliefs of the time and their influence on scientific research and publication. And it gives a vivid picture of upper class family life in 19th century Britain. It's enriched by many direct quotes from Darwin's journals and from his wife's diaries. The book would be an excellent part of many different studies: science, history, theology, and others.
WEAKNESSES: A minor flaw is the quantity of irrelevant detail. Page 118: "Charles added a strip of land about three hundred yards long on the western boundary of the property. He bought it from his neighbor John Lubbock. There, Emma and Charles designed a path after the one they both loved at Maer."If the pointless middle sentence were removed, the remaining ones would connect more strongly. This occurs with greater and lesser lengths of text throughout the book.There is, however, a more significant weakness that led me to give the book only three stars. The writing style is stiff, awkward, and uninviting. There is no flow to the language, no beauty in the syntax . . . partly due to haphazard and inconsistent punctuation, but not entirely. Creating appropriate text for middle grade students requires some simplicity, but it doesn't need to be rigid. It would be difficult to read sections of this book aloud to a class in anything other than a flat, expressionless voice because the author's style embodies so little literary quality. From page 79: "What was at stake in nature was the survival of an entire species. Not only the survival of an entire species, but also the creation of new species. The thought make him wild with excitement." That just doesn't come through as very "wild" to me. I think she could have done better.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Lifelong Affair of Two Hearts and Two Minds
The Scopes Monkey Trial, in which Spencer Tracy squared off against Fredric March (whoops! Make that Clarence Darrow against William Jennings Bryan) was dubbed the Trial of the Century, and 85 years later, the controversy about evolution continues to smolder.My guess is that the one-half of the U.S. population (yes, one half) that still cannot comprehend and/or accept natural selection would ordinarily have little interest in the marriage of a man whose name is anathema to them.On the flip side, those who find themselves on a mission to lift high the bright torch of science in order to rout the shadows of ignorance might pass over this book as probably being too soft in texture to provide cocktail party ammunition, or essay bullet points.Deborah Heiligman's brief and wonderful book Charles and Emma extends this invitation to both of the above groups:check your religious and/or scientific urgencies at the door, come on in, settle into your most comfortable reading spot with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, and enjoy a wonderful story about enduring love between a man and a woman.

Charles and Emma, though a non-fiction book, paints the world of the Darwins with all the beauty, exquisite detail, and polish of the best historical novels.Far from a dry tome, in short order one can FEEL what it was like to live in the early to mid-1800's, and more than one reviewer has noted that flavors of Jane Austen percolate through the book.I would add bits of Charles Dickens, and even a bit of Melville while Heiligman describes the incredible voyage that Charles took on the Beagle to the Galapagos.What is completely absent is the harsh, occasionally cringe-inducing ferocity of a Richard Dawkins or a Stephen Jay Gould (both of whom I have the highest respect for).

Charles and Emma had been together for 42 years when, true to the traditional wedding vow, death did them part.Heiligman's charming and informative tracing of their courtship and marriage is all the more delightful for the distinct homage that she pays to the intellectual liveliness and capacity of the very accomplished Emma Darwin.Intrinsic to the romance was the longing of both Emma and Charles to find a life partner that could provide romantic passion AND a passion for knowledge and understanding of the world that they lived in.How did Emma, deeply convinced of the existence of a loving and personal God, deal with a husband that was just as deeply convinced otherwise?Ah.The answer to that is one of the more moving tales in the book.

My wife and I are closing in on the length of time that Charles and Emma had together. We've been fortunate in life in many ways, but none of the good fortune that we've had is more treasured than having someone to move through life with while sharing both a wealth of ideas, and a generous measure of passion. Heliegman's portrayal of the survival of a deeply loving relationship despite ill health, unending controversy and, at times,socialand religious condemnation, is both heartening and inspiring to me.

A small tale to end this review:I once interviewed a woman for a job that involved considerable responsibility."What do you do" I asked, "when you find yourself having to deal with turmoil and controversy?""I build a rock, and then I stand on it" she replied (she got the job).Heiligman builds two rocks in this book, and stands on them.The first rock is the theory that made Charles Darwin famous. The depth, beauty, and astounding brilliance of his theories are not ignored in this book.Gently but firmly, the author convincingly describes the path to the door of publishing On the Origin of Species, the opening of that door, and the stepping into a world forever changed by a radical new perspective.The second rock is this: though it may not be doable, desirable, or even wise for many, two people CAN form an intellectual and romantic bond that can last a lifetime.The scientist in me, and the romantic in me, likes that notion very, very much.

4-0 out of 5 stars Didn't quite live up to my expectations
3.5 stars

I picked up this book mostly because Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith is both the National Book Award and Printz runner-up. I don't know if it's because my expectations were too high or because this book is my first YA non-fiction, but I wasn't as wild about it as I expected to be.

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith is basically a story of Charles Darwin's marriage to his religious wife, which, keeping in mind that Darwin was a founder of the theory of natural selection, is an interesting subject to explore. The book narrates Charles' initial hesitation to even get married, the couple's ultimate decision to put their religious differences aside and trust in the ability of their marriage to work in spite of them, and Charles's and Emma's life together.

The book is written in a very engaging manner, easy to read and hardly ever gets boring. It provides curious details about Darwin's life and 19th century living in general. I especially liked the story about Charles' week-long visit to his first love, during which he partook in so much kissing, that he had to be prescribed medicine to relieve the swelling of his lips. Who would have thought this kind of vigor was allowed 150 years ago? I also enjoyed learning that taking breakfast in bed was an actual medical treatment!

The reason I couldn't give the book more than 3 stars is that ultimately Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith doesn't live up to its premise - the struggle to find a compromise between an atheist husband's and religious wife's beliefs isn't sufficiently explored. Besides Emma's initial fear that her beloved husband will go to Hell for not believing in God, the subject doesn't come up too often in the course of the story. Rather, it explores Charles's hesitation to make his beliefs public, his fear to go against popular religious views.

Nevertheless, the book will be of interest to those who want to know a little about Charles Darwin and his ideas, but who don't feel like plodding through other more massive biographies of the scientist. For me the most fascinating part of the story is that even now, 150 years after Darwin's theory was published, there are still people who find it absolutely impossible to reconcile their religious beliefs with scientific findings. As if science and faith are mutually exclusive!

5-0 out of 5 stars not a novel
I loved this book! It is very readable and clearly structured. It is important to know before buying that it is a biography, and not a novel (as I thought). But as a biography, it is one of the best I've read. ... Read more

3. The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, Vol. I.
by Charles Darwin
Paperback: 328 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
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Asin: B003YMMWUM
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The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, Vol. I. is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Charles Darwin is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Charles Darwin then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

4. The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition
by Charles Darwin
Paperback: 576 Pages (2003-09-02)
list price: US$6.95 -- used & new: US$3.01
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Asin: 0451529065
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The book that shook the world
First time from Signet Classic

This is the book that revolutionized the natural sciences and every literary, philosophical and religious thinker who followed. Darwin's theory of evolution and the descent of man remains as controversial and influential today as when it was published over a century ago. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (38)

2-0 out of 5 stars New Origins could it be -
The animals are de - evolving. Less DNA being accessed due to different threats and food sources for each animal group.Animals are changing because they are outside of the collective. Not from live that we can see with the naked eye, other animals why some are not afraid of other animals, but from microscopic organisms; bacteria and viruses (lack of exposure) on islands. Darwin was not aware of these. Survival of the sickest ( in isolation). Traits (mutations) "tells" who is healthiest in the isolate group to be the "healthiest" strongest against the next mutation insects in the environment. Life structures we can'tsee influences the design of the shape of the life we do see.

4-0 out of 5 stars This is the sixth edition of the Origin of the Species
My four-star rating is more for this particular product than for the work of Darwin itself. Clearly Darwin's book is the cornerstone of modern biology, and I won't even pretend to try to rate its importance using one to five stars.

However, I felt it was important to let people know that this is the *sixth* edition of the book. I ordered it thinking it was the first, although I admit I had no confirmed reason to believe that. The main problem with later editions is that Darwin continually responded to his critics in subsequent editions, thus changing some aspects of his theory. He also added the obnoxious concession "by the Creator" to his beautiful final sentence in order to appease the religious critics. The sixth (final) edition even has an extra chapter in response to criticisms by Catholic biologist George Mivart (which chapter is present in this edition, thus proving it is the sixth edition).

The benefit to later editions would be that they contain minor corrections to the writing, as well as these answers to objections and criticism, but at the same time I don't feel that Darwin's answers needed to be added to the book itself. "The Origin" should simply present his theory (as the first edition does) and he could easily have answered his critics in other ways and not by editing the actual theory itself.

But to reiterate my main point, I am not reviewing the actual work of Darwin. I am posting this review to inform people of which edition they are getting with this particular book, because I wish I had known in advance.

Edit: I should add that the copy I received did not have the same cover as what is displayed here. My copy shows a bird, a wildcat, and a dolphin on the cover. The cover shown on the product page at the time of writing is of a ship. However, my copy is still the 150th Anniversary Edition (Signet Classics) with an introduction by Julian Huxley.

4-0 out of 5 stars Book in great condition
The book arrived promptly and in great condition. It took a long time to receive it, though.

5-0 out of 5 stars Book report: The Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin
When it comes to subjects like biology and medicine, I am an absolute moron. I only barely avoided failing the one and only biology class I ever took, thanks to an absurd amount of extra-credit outside reading assignments and a science fair project that I still don't understand. I can never remember if DNA is made out of chromosomes or the other way around. Same with proteins and amino acids. I'm not a generally stupid person, but I do recognize my limits: biological matters are opaque to me.

It was with the hope of redeeming myself that I read "The Origin of Species". I felt that, if I could read and somewhat comprehend probably the most influential and controversial book ever written on biology, then I might once again be able to present myself in modern society without wearing a veil.

"The Origin of Species" sold out its entire first printing on the day of publication in 1859, largely because of its expected controversial contents. Darwin had written and spoken on such subjects for years, so the public anticipated some pretty scandalous stuff. The book is still considered controversial for several reasons. First, the theory that it presents appears to contradict the Biblical account of creation. (I say "appears" because it doesn't really. Anyone who genuinely believes in a strictly literal interpretation of Genesis, as opposed to a metaphorical interpretation, must necessarily also believe that Jesus actually was a door, a shepherd, a vine, a light, and a loaf of bread, which rather diminishes his or her credibility.) Second, it seems to contradict common sense ideas of inheritance: how can the offspring of a horse be anything but another horse? Third, it's kind of icky: we're essentially the same kind of things as slugs and worms: ewww. Fourth, it brings up uncomfortable ethical issues: if we're essentially the same kind of thing as the contents of a Happy Meal, how do we justify being the eaters and not the eatees? Finally, it's hard to comprehend that it's all true, in much the same way that it's hard to comprehend that we are all really blizzards of protons, neutrons, and electrons.

The book is very different from any science book I've ever read. Darwin is not lecturing from the podium of an auditorium. He's your learned friend sitting in the easy chair next to yours, probably in front of a cheerful fire after a nice dinner, telling you about some really interesting things he's seen and ideas he's had. Much of it is written in first person, which is very refreshing and personal.

It's clear that Darwin is multiple kinds of a genius. He's a lucid writer, with concise and telling expressions: he never uses two words if there's a single better one. He's also a gifted experimenter. He refers in many places to decades of clever experiments he's done with pigeons, bees, ants, grass, flowers, and other organisms, and you get the definite impression that these are only the tip of the iceberg of his accomplishments. Besides his deliberate experiments, he's also an amazing observational naturalist. He alludes to many things that he himself has witnessed, not only on his famous voyage around South America, but also on trips around England and Europe. In addition, he's an exhaustive and thorough researcher. The first part of the book is a review of everything (and I mean everything) written to that point on the subject. It's obvious that he's read everything available on the topic. Finally, he is an active correspondent with everyone doing related work or research at the time. He quotes the research and observations of numerous others, from some of the most famous scientists of his time to ordinary farmers who raise crops and animals for a living.

He begins by discussing the variations possible among members of the same species that are easily observable and are obviously deliberate, namely among domesticated animals and plants. This makes it clear that significant differences within a species are possible during only a few generations. This is what he calls "selection": deliberately choosing animals and plants for definite features, and encouraging these features.

He then expands his view to look at variation within nature, outside domestication. This allows him to bring up "natural selection": the conditions of nature favoring certain features over others. Organisms with good features are more likely to survive and reproduce. Organisms with bad features are unlikely to reproduce, and may become extinct.

Darwin packs a lot into his writing. His sentences are fireworks. Practically every one explodes off the page as a condensation of vast amounts of detailed research, or the statement of an amazing observation or theory. He consistently refers to this book as a "sketch," because he feels that he is not presenting all the detail he could on each point. But this is a sketch in the sense that Michelangelo's David is a rock. There is a vast and astonishing amount of detail in this book. Indeed, for me to say that I have "read" this book is not accurate. To truly appreciate this book, you would have to read one of his blockbuster sentences, then go off and contemplate its significance for hours, days, or weeks. In that sense, I have really only skimmed this book.

This is not dry theory, by any means. The wealth of practical examples he offers is amazing. I have to repeat one bit of reasoning about how the population of cats in an area affects how many flowers there are. Ready? The more cats there are, the fewer mice there are. Since mice gnaw on beehives and bother the bees, the fewer the mice, the more active the bees can be in the area. The more active the bees, the more pollen they can spread. And the more pollen they spread, the more flowers bloom. So, the more cats, the more flowers. Is that great?

Moron that I am in biology, I was surprised to find that there were things I know that Darwin didn't. He didn't know about Mendel's laws of inheritance, for example. Truth be told, I don't remember what these are, but I know that there are such laws, and Darwin didn't. I often found myself wishing that I could tell him about Mendel, DNA, radioactive dating of geological strata, mass extinctions, continental drift, and other topics.

One consequence of this for me, the biology moron, is that this book is pitched at just the right level to not lose me. He talks about animals and plants, things that even I can relate to. He doesn't - because he can't - delve into the biochemical stuff that always loses me. His writing is always concrete.

Having established his theory, and the usefulness of this theory in explaining the variety we observe in nature, Darwin brings up the difficulties of his own theory. This is the mark of the true scientist, as opposed to the partisan promoter. He recognizes that there are difficulties, and doesn't sweep them under the rug. Among the problems he discusses are the lack of fossils of in-between forms, how sterile insects can pass on their features, how complex organs (like eyes) come about, where complicated instinctive behaviors come from, and how similar species get distributed globally. In what I've read elsewhere, I've never seen a criticism of his theory that Darwin himself did not anticipate and address here.

Here's something interesting. I didn't notice the word "evolution" anywhere, for which I am grateful. I think that "evolution" is a terrible label for his theory of descent by natural selection. "Evolution" implies that something - some thing - is changing, which is not true. No animal changes into another animal. No dinosaur changes into a bird, no wolf changes into a Pekingese, no monkey changes into a human. The word "evolution" gives the wrong connotation entirely.

In the end, the book is absolutely convincing. The wealth of examples that Darwin presents, and the clarity and thoroughness of his discussion of his ideas, is compelling and persuasive. It's hard to imagine someone reading this book and saying, "Yeah, but." I am tempted to sum up by saying that a person either accepts the theory of natural selection or they have not read this book. And I now have that nifty cat story to tell at cocktail parties.

1-0 out of 5 stars Origins?
This little gem answers all my questions except one...
The origin of the species!: ( ... Read more

5. Charles Darwin: A Biography, Vol. 1 - Voyaging
by Janet Browne
Paperback: 622 Pages (1996-04-01)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$14.89
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Asin: 0691026068
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Few lives of great men offer so much interest--and so many mysteries--as the life of Charles Darwin, the greatest figure of nineteenth-century science, whose ideas are still inspiring discoveries and controversies more than a hundred years after his death. Yet only now, with the publication of Voyaging, the first of two volumes that will constitute the definitive biography, do we have a truly vivid and comprehensive picture of Darwin as man and as scientist. Drawing upon much new material, supported by an unmatched acquaintance with both the intellectual setting and the voluminous sources, Janet Browne has at last been able to unravel the central enigma of Darwin's career: how did this amiable young gentleman, born into a prosperous provincial English family, grow into a thinker capable of challenging the most basic principles of religion and science? The dramatic story of Voyaging takes us from agonizing personal challenges to the exhilaration of discovery; we see a young, inquisitive Darwin gradually mature, shaping, refining, and finally setting forth the ideas that would at last fall upon the world like a thunderclap in The Origin of Species. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars "The definitive Darwin biography." -- Ernst Mayr, renowned evolutionary biologist
This first part of the "definitive biography" by Janet Browne, a truly scholarly effort, covers Charles Darwin's life until 1858, before publishing "On the Origin of Species" in 1859.Not only does it cover his life, but much before his life, including enticing bits from his grandfathers, Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood, and his father, Robert.This biography is wide-ranging and encompasses much of his surrounding environment, influences, and relationships with friends and family.

The subtitle of part one, "Voyaging," alludes to the five years Darwin spent circumnavigating the southern hemisphere as a naturalist aboard the Beagle, with FitzRoy as captain.This is perhaps the most significant event that influenced his background and views, and led to the seeds of a transmutation theory over twenty years before the publication of his seminal work.

A few years ago, I read the "Voyage of the Beagle," the modern name for his "journal of researches" for the five year voyage, and I recommend reading that as a companion to this volume, but "Voyage of the Beagle" does not nearly cover everything that is covered in this biography regarding the events of that voyage.This biography includes entries from his diary, from FitzRoy's diary, from correspondence between various parties, and so on, giving a much more complete picture of the events and inner life of the protagonist and supporting characters.

As an example of the thoroughness of this approach, consider Darwin's reputed relationship with FitzRoy.Normally, all we receive on the subject is antagonism between the two, and possible references to FitzRoy being more religiously conservative than Darwin.However, when viewing the actual events of the voyage from the perspective of both, it is interesting that FitzRoy had quite similar views as Darwin with respect to Lyellian geology that saw the earth as a much older entity than portrayed by Genesis of the Bible.Also, while FitzRoy possessed an unstable temperament that caused friction between the two occasionally, for the most part, their relationship was amicable, and FitzRoy was quite indulging of Darwin's every whim.Only later in life, long after their return to Britain, did their paths and opinions radically diverge.

Another sample of a reason to read this particular biography rather than resort to popular treatments is the situation surrounding the death of Darwin's daughter, Anne Elizabeth, his "favorite."If one is to believe some of the more popular works, or even the new movie that was released, "Creation," we are to believe that this had much more effect on Darwin's views on evolution and religion than it actually did.As far as evolution, the theory was already quite developed by the time of Annie's death in 1851, as were his religious views.Perhaps, if anything, it helped to cement his conviction, already present, that there was no personal god concerned with our affairs.

Yet another excellent companion book would be Darwin's complete autobiography, edited by Nora Barlow, previous versions being bowdlerized.I prefer the one published by Norton, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin: 1809-1882.With autobiographies, however, one does not get a complete picture, for obvious reasons.

In summary, if one wishes to read a biography of Darwin that is thorough, and does not wish to be mislead by unscholarly perceptions present in so many other works of this nature, my opinion will tend to coincide with Ernst Mayr's.Janet Browne's is the definitive Darwin biography.Now, on to the reading of part two, Charles Darwin: A Biography, Vol. 2 - The Power of Place.

5-0 out of 5 stars The First Volume of an Awesome Biography of Darwin
This is the first volume (covering roughly 1809-1856) of Janet Browne's amazing biography of Charles Darwin (1809-1882). I earlier reviewed the second volume, "Charles Darwin: Power of Place," on Amazon several years ago and found it superlative--in fact, it was one of the books that sparked my interest in Darwin and Victorian science.I have found that reading Browne is just an immeasurably enjoyable experience.Currently Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, after a stint at London's impressive Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine while she worked on Darwin's correspondence, the reader immediately senses that Browne is one of the most knowledgeable scholars of Darwin and his development that one is likely to encounter.Both volumes are unhurried, thorough, and crammed with insights.You are in the best of hands when reading this biography.

There are a number of strong points demonstrated in this volume.Browne is very good at blending both personal and family background with Darwin's scientific endeavors--i.e., this is a truly complete biography. She is particularly effective in demonstrating Darwin's scientific methods, how he went about doing his research, keeping his notes, and developing his ideas. So this is also a prime work of intellectual history as well.For example, she helps us understand one of the big mysteries surrounding Darwin: why did he not publish his "Origin" until 1859, more than 20 years after returning from his famous voyage on the Beagle? Browne is also masterful in placing Darwin within the context of Victorian science, so that we know what is going on around him as well as with him. One of the most interesting aspects to this volume is that Browne devotes but 130 of her 543 pages to the Beagle voyage, the critical event in Darwin's development of evolutionary theory. But Browne's ability to relate discoveries made during the Beagle trip to some of Darwin's later ideas as he develops from a rather listless student into a true naturalist, allows us to understand exactly what transpired during this five year sojourn.The initial section of the book consists of some quite interesting chapters on his youth, family background, and education. The reader really begins to develop a grasp of Darwin's character, flaws and strengths after covering these two initial sections.

In my opinion, the real payoff of the book is the final section focusing upon Darwin as a "naturalist" during the period between his return from the Beagle voyage (1836) and just prior to unleashing the "Origin" in 1859. A trained biologist as well as scientific historian, Browne affords the reader invaluable insights into how Darwin's crucial ideas germinated and how he undertook to exploit the fruits of his Beagle voyage and supplement that information with additional types of research. She also covers Darwin's papers and books during this period and his interaction with other scientists (such as Lyell, Huxley, Joseph Hooker, and Richard Owen) and the Victorian scientific establishment. Her prose is clear and quite understandable to general readers without much scientific background such as myself. Her discussion of Darwin's family background during this period, and especially the strains that developed between Darwin and his highly religious wife, also helps to place his scientific development within context.

As usual, Browne's research is impeccable and exhaustive. Her extensive notes and bibliography (circa 1995), a number of illustrations, and a thorough index add substantial strength to the text.On almost every page her incomparable familiarity with Darwin's correspondence in particular and his journals and writings in geneal proves invaluable. This paperback edition from Pinceton is nicely produced, with fine paper, oversized pages and clear typography--a fine job by Quebecor Printing in Martinsburg, WVA. Any serious student of Darwin and Victorian science needs to begin with both volumes of this incredibly rich biography.

5-0 out of 5 stars Darwin
interesting biography of the life of Charles Darwin...great insights on his childhood and early experiences.

5-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and Easy to Read Darwin Bio.
I actually first checked this book out from my university's library and liked it so much that I went ahead and bought it for my personal library.Browne explores Darwin's life in the text in an extremely compelling and easily comprehendable manner.While I don't believe Charles Darwin: Voyaging is explicit and detailed enough to negate the need for true Darwin enthusiasts to discover Darwin for themselves through reading his autobiography, collected correspondence, and great scientific works (The Origins of Species, Descent of Man etc...) I do think the text accomplishes what it was meant to do--give those curious about Darwin's life and works the basic overview they need before pursuing the topic in more depth.

5-0 out of 5 stars Biogeography
Exceptional book, if in doubt, buy it.I knew it would be great after reading so many positive reviews, for some years, and was not disappointed. Unlike some overly detailed biographies, every word seems worthwhile here, from that first glorious sentence to the last.Here is the great adventure story of all time, biology-wise.All I can do is add my two cents worth to what is said elsewhere, don't miss this one. ... Read more

6. The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
by Charles Darwin
Paperback: 98 Pages (2010-09-08)
list price: US$7.95 -- used & new: US$7.95
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Asin: 145380661X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"My father's autobiographical recollections were written for his children, and written without any thought that they would ever be published. To many this may seem an impossibility; but those who knew my father will understand how it was not only possible, but natural. The autobiography bears the heading 'Recollections of the Development of my Mind and Character,' and end with the following note: "- Aug. 3, 1876. This sketch of my life was begun about May 28th at Hopedene (Mr. Hensleigh Wedgwood's house in Surrey.), and since then I have written for nearly an hour on most afternoons." It will easily be understood that, in a narrative of a personal and intimate kind written for his wife and children, passages should occur which must here be omitted; and I have not thought it necessary to indicate where such omissions are made." Francis Darwin ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Real Darwin Autobiography -- Norton edition, Nora Barlow, ISBN 0393310698
This review is for The Autobiography of Charles Darwin: 1809-1882, 224 pages, which is erroneously connected to at least two other versions that are not equivalent, namely the 62 page paperback put out by CreateSpace, and the Kindle version, which states it is edited by his son, Francis Darwin (the bowdlerized edition).

The most important thing to know about this edition of the autobiography of Charles Darwin is that it is the edition that contains the entire autobiography.Most editions of the autobiography, especially those edited by his son Francis Darwin, were bowdlerized by his family, removing sections that could be seen as far too controversial for his day, especially on the issue of religion.The version by Penguin, 128 pages, which Amazon identifies as a newer edition of this volume, may be the unedited version, but I cannot tell the exact differences, since I do not own that one.I did search it for certain passages that are normally not present in the autobiographies, and they seem to be present in the Penguin edition, but at about 100 pages shorter than the Norton edition, at least some extras are missing.

This edition, edited by his granddaughter Nora Barlow, first made available the complete autobiography in 1959, a full century after the publication of his seminal work, "On the Origin of Species."

Other items in the Norton edition:letters between Charles and other family members, namely his wife, Emma;notes jotted down by Darwin on various things, some quite humorous, such as his evaluation of the pros and cons of getting married;the controversy between Darwin and Samuel Butler on the nature of evolution.

If one wants to read the autobiography, the Norton edition is the definitive edition, with the Penguin edition being a possible alternative.If one wants instead to read an authoritative scholarly biography of his life, select the two volume edition published through Princeton University Press by the Darwin scholar and historian of science, Janet Browne of Harvard.Those may be found here:Charles Darwin: A Biography, Vol. 1 - Voyaging and Charles Darwin: A Biography, Vol. 2 - The Power of Place.All other Darwin biographies are inferior.

4-0 out of 5 stars Getting to know Charles Darwin
"The Autobiography of Charles Darwin" provides an interesting insight into the life and mind of the renowned biologist, Charles Darwin.Though I think it is commonly held in too high regard as the final authority on the life of Darwin, I still believe it is an interesting and important text when read through the correct lens.I found it a meaningful source when considering it as a text about how Darwin wanted to be remembered.Whether or not Darwin actually can precisely recall intricate details from his childhood like praying to God to help him run faster is not as important as what that means about why the man who was writing the story felt this was an important detail to aid.Through this lens I feel you can learn a lot from this book about who Charles Darwin, the man, was and not just think about him in terms of his theories and his impact on society.

I found the restored version very interesting and would have been disappointed to read an older edition, which did not include some passages related to his private life as well as others on his religious views.Read it in the form that Charles intended you to!

5-0 out of 5 stars Definitely worth the read
It is interesting to hear Darwin's perspective on his own life as he reflects in his autobiography. The story is of course a little biased, but the information it contains and the way that it is presented allows the reader to see what Darwin found important, and some of his opinions are surprising. His love of his work is evident, but so is his appreciation for his family, friends, and mentors. The way he describes his thinking is also definitely worth the effort to read. The whole book is less than 60 pages, and the small amount of time necessary to read it is well spent. If you're considering purchasing this book though, you should bear in mind that it is available online for free through the Darwin Online project. So really you have no excuse not to read Darwin's Autobiography-- go! go do it right now. You won't regret it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Finally, a more complete version of Darwin's autobiography!
When I finally found this version of Charles Darwin's autobiography, I was so pleased! Most of the versions available (Kindle and otherwise) only provide the autobiography as edited by Darwin's family after his death. The edited version does not have important passages relating to his family and private life, and these are so important to Darwin scholars and literary scholars.

The only complaint that I have is a very small, but personal, one! I found the quality of the paper used in this book (a decision by Norton, I am sure) to be disappointing. Other than that, this is a great read and a wonderful research tool.

4-0 out of 5 stars Speaks to Darwin's heart more than his theory
Charles Darwin is one of the most influential persons in the past two hundredyears.His theories have had major repercussions for science, as well as for our historical and religious understanding of ourselves.If you want to begin understand the mind of Darwin (but not his theory of natural selection - read "Origin" for that of course), read this book. It contains the unexpurgated reflective autobiography of Darwin, andit will be a good window into his ideas and thoughts, though I hope you do not stop there.Read more of Darwin.Unsure of his direction early in life, Charles Darwin became a scientific stickler for accurate details, and of course the monumental founder of the idea of natural selection.Darwin's religious notions, some of his biography, as well as the (almost comic) table of "proofs" whether to marry or not show a serious and light-hearted side to this complex man.Only regrets - I wish there were more information contained herein, and that the latter part of it was better organized (or that it had less to do with the tedious Samuel Butler dispute). ... Read more

7. The Works of Charles Darwin, Volume 16: The Origin of Species, 1876
by Charles Darwin
Paperback: 512 Pages (2010-02-15)
list price: US$29.00 -- used & new: US$26.09
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Asin: 0814720595
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882) has been widely recognized since his own time as one of the most influential writers in the history of Western thought. His books were widely read by specialists and the general public, and his influence had been extended by almost continuous public debate over the past 150 years. New York University Press's new paperback edition makes it possible to review Darwin's public literary output as a whole, plus his scientific journal articles, his private notebooks, and his correspondence.

This is complete edition contains all of Darwin's published books, featuring definitive texts recording original pagination with Darwin's indexes retained. The set also features a general introduction and index, and introductions to each volume.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential but needs updating
Since I am not a geneticist, I will not assess Darwin's view on the biological side of this thought. But since he widely pretends to transfer this knowledge of his that is fascinating to other domains like linguistics which he does not know at all, I will concentrate in that short review on that very problem.

Pages 370-71 of this edition you find a quotation that has been exclusively used by so many of the phylogenetic linguists of today that the whole thing sounds suspicious. In this quotation of eighteen lines, most of the time cut short to even only three lines and three dots, Darwin expresses the idea that the phylogeny of languages is absolutely parallel to the phylogeny of the various human families and what he calls "races" of the human species. He even seems to establish a parallel between the phylogeny of languages and the geographic migrations of the human species and its different "races".

That very idea cannot today be accepted. There might be some side-connections between human groups, their migrations, their geographical positions and their genetic characters but the most advanced opinions on the subject would say that we today do not have enough data to just evoke a hypothesis.

There is more though. He seems to be inclined to accept the idea that there could be a relation between mutations and the non-use or the use of something. In this volume it is not clearly developed but it is present behind, not between, the lines.

Yet he opposes instinct which is purely genetic, though we could question the point and think of things that are acquired, even by animals, through experience from the very first instant of life, and knowledge that can be learned thanks to language. And we are back to language that is not clearly defined in this book. It is more or less taken for granted in its nature and the articulated hierarchy that builds that language is not even hinted at.

This book is essential for the genetic vision of the evolution of life on earth, but it does not encompass clearly and seriously the development of the human species because it does not take into account the specificity of human experience and especially the powerful tool man invented when he started speaking his articulated language. But this book on that subject, I mean language, is only second and very far behind the other book by Darwin, The Descent of Man, at the end of his life.

The phylogenetic linguists that build a whole approach on the quotation pages 370-371 of this edition are just using a name that has authority but not a serious argument. Yet it is this quotation that justifies the genetic nature of the linguistic ability that Chomsky states and all the phylogenetic approaches of languages that want to do things in the reverse way when compared to Darwin, to go up towards the past, when Darwin is always speaking of going down to the future of that past. He does not reconstruct, he descends the time line towards the present.

Only Mark Stoneking from Leipzig seems to be realistic and honest enough to state that we do not have the necessary level of data in the linguistic field to just think we may eventually draw a hypothesis, not to mention a conclusion. And we should think of the total lack of endogenous phylogeny of language among the phylogenic linguists who are even at times not linguists at all but biologists. What do they know about the phylogeny of the word, the three articulations, consonantal, isolating, agglutinative, synthetic and analytical languages that are the direct consequences of these three articulations that they, none of them, mention or know. But Darwin is for them like a loincloth covering their nakedness.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID

5-0 out of 5 stars Something Old made Something New.
2009 is a year where the airwaves are saturated by documentaries about the bicentenary of Darwin's Birth. Combine this with the over-exposure of Richard Dawkins as (arguably) America's most famous intellectual, and you may see a product that has nothing new to offer and which will not enlighten you afresh.

However, if you haven't read the On the Origin of Species, then this audio CD is the perfect eye-opener. From the suggestive arguments of the start (artificial selection), through the sweeping poetry of the middle sections, to a prophetic conclusion, the whole of this audio CD conveys the argument well making you realize (in the words of the intro) 'how much he got right'.
Blend this with the harmonies of Dawkins' oratory, and you will find a work that is a classic of popular science rendered with high explanatory value by a reader who conveys the meaning of every syllable.

Especially notable sections are where Dawkins reads how '[Natural Selection is] immeasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art' and also the section at the end about 'Light being shed on the origins of man'.

My one quibble with this work is that it is not especially light reading. Although it is well written & read, listening is not the ideal medium for this book (especially when commuting...) However this can be forgiven considering the depth of understanding created by seeing Darwin in the light of one of his modern disciples.

Overall, I am very glad I bought this book and happy to recommend it to all and sundry. Although it was written 150 years ago, and the voice of Dawkins can be found across the internet, the combination of these qualities creates something new of old things. I promise you that, in using this CD, far from being bored, you will be moved anew by the power of evolution.

4-0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile, but doesn't replace the book
Good, well read. At some points I wanted more of the text from the book. There is enough here to understand the points of each chapter. I enjoyed it, serious readers/scholars should buy the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautifully read by Dawkins
I am not here reviewing the book, but rather the reading and abridging by Dawkins. I have just received this and although I have in the past read this material, it has now come to life as Richard Dawkins has done a splendid job.

Not only do I find his voice pleasing, his slight English accent (to an American) gives me the feeling that Darwin himself is speaking. Dawkins has spent a great deal of effort to emphasize words so that the intended meanings come across more clearly. It is a bit like the difference between a 2d movie and the same one in 3d.

The nearest comparison is to some of the works of the late Carl Sagan, who when reading aloud his own material was head and shoulders above anyone else who didn't really understand the material, but was simply reading it.

The only negative is that he speaks a bit too fast for me. However, I solved that by converting the files to mp3 and using my audio software to slow them down to 85% of original speed. I now am listening to these on my daily exercise walk via an mp3 player with shure sound isolating earphones. I expect to listen to some of it again and again, as it is still difficult to grasp all of it at once while busy watching where I am walking.

As to Darwin, it is refreshing to see how so much of his theory is backed up by first hand information. In this day of high tech, it seems all information is really 3rd, 4th, or Nth hand summaries of other peoples works. When Dawkins reads the part on the struggle for existence, you can actually visualize Darwin crawling around that fenced in plot of ground getting dirty as he measured the height of the plants (or trees) and counted the rings himself to determine how many years the cattle had been keeping the vegetation from growing.

And I find his prose to be almost poetic; reading it just doesn't have the same affect as hearing Dawkins speak it aloud. It's the feline population that keeps the mice down, allowing for more bees to pollinate the flowers. Not just cats eating mice. I didn't quote this exactly, but I think you get the idea.

5-0 out of 5 stars a unique edition
There are a lot of editions of "Origin of Species" in print.I like this one, for two reasons.The first is that it is the First Edition of "Origin of Species", the one originally published by Darwin that first described the theory of evolution.Many other published versions of the "Origin of Species" are of the later editions, not the first.

The other thing I really like about this version is that it includes the two essays that Darwin wrote before he published "Origin of Species".The earlier essays give a picture of how Darwin's thinking changed over time, and how the theory of evolution itself evolved.Among other things, Darwin gave much greater weight to "saltations", or large sudden changes, in his earlier writings than he did in "Origin of Species". It is also interesting to see how various paragraphs in "Origin of Species" first appear in the earlier essays, and how they were modified over time.

I found it very interesting and informative.

... Read more

8. Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist
by Adrian Desmond, James Moore
Paperback: 896 Pages (1994-06-17)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$12.45
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Asin: 0393311503
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In lively and accessible style, the authors tell how Darwin came to his world-changing conclusions and how he kept his thoughts secret for twenty years. Hailed as the definitive biography, this book explains Darwin's paradox and offers a window on Victorian science, theology, and mores. Contains a wealth of new information and 90 photographs. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (21)

3-0 out of 5 stars Was it a life? A Gentleman's Biography
While reading evolution books ranging from popular like Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life to specialized like Evolution: The First Four Billion Years and Encyclopedia of Evolution: 2 volume set I felt the need to read Darwin's biography. My first encounter with Darwin was even before a primary school when I was looking at illustrations to his voyages in a library. Later, during my school years in Soviet Union, I saw a movie about him. I vividly remember a Wilberforce and FitzRoy scene. So you might imaging that I was very keen to read 680 page book (not counting notes and bibliography). Unfortunately I found it a bit boring and written in a difficult language compared to other biographies I read in English. May be the language was chosen deliberately to emulate Victorian epoch?

Almost in the middle of reading this book I stumbled across another book: The Darwin Conspiracy: Origins of a Scientific Crime and reading the latter (it's like a thriller and you can download the free PDF from the publisher) gave me an impulse to continue reading Darwin's biography with a critical eye. Looking at the same facts your can always interpret them differently and the conspiracy book reminded me to read behind the lines more carefully and remember about politics in science and class issues in society. I'm very interested in memetic engineering Darwin used to delicately arrange and propagate his ideas. The biography mentions Wallace in passing a few times but there is no discussion about the priority and the crucial Linnean Society meeting is not in the focus and doesn't grab any attention.

One fact I didn't know before reading this biography is that Darwin was always sick. Now "tormented evolutionist" phrase acquires the new meaning to me. I also got the feeling that Darwin's hesitation to publish his ideas (if he had any to publish) was caused by sickness as well. Actually the sickness was the main focus of the book. However I really wonder how could such a sick man (as described) could write that huge amount of correspondence, do research and write many books.

One quote I found at the end of the book says that Darwin would not approve an anti-religious stance:

"Moreover though I am a strong advocate for free thought on all subjects, yet it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; & freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men's minds, which follows from the advance of science. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science. I may, however, have been unduly biassed by the pain which it would give some members of my family, if I aided in any way direct attacks on religion."

The quote got my attention probably because I recently read another book: The Selfish Genius: How Richard Dawkins Rewrote Darwin's Legacy.

Dmitry Vostokov
Literate Scientist Blog

5-0 out of 5 stars Adventurer, freethinker, and convalescent
Darwin's family background, one grandfather was a freethinking scientist and the other was a wealthy manufacturer, cemented Darwin's place in society and ensured he would have a handsome living.

Darwin grew up hunting, fishing, and collecting beetles but such idleness wasn't an option and since he couldn't become a doctor, he fainted at the sight of blood, he would be a parson. After graduating and destined for church life an opportunity arose to join the HMS Beagle on a five year round the world journey as the captain's gentleman companion. His wealth enabled him to spend time and resources on travels and on acquiring hands-on a superb collection of plants and animals.

Active as a youth and during his travels, Darwin found himself constantly sick after his return to England. He married his cousin, Emma Wedgewood, and settled down to an comfortable home life. He wrote of his travels, he wrote the definitive study of barnacles, he developed geological theories, he joined scientific societies and he thought of natural selection, taking twenty years before publishing the Origin Of Species.

Throughout all this he also raised a large family, he took care of parish matters, he managed his investments, and he spent much time in health spas.

He reached the age of 72 and died soon after suffering a heart attack that left him fatally weak.

Vincent Poirier, Tokyo

5-0 out of 5 stars Immensely enjoyable
I know very little about history, much less about the history of science, even less about evolution and Darwinism. I am just a physician and professor of epidemiology. This book was immensely thought-provoking, stimulating, entertaining... so much fun to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist
Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist. By Adrian Desmond and James Moore. New York: Warner Books, 1992. xxi + 808 pp.

Though a bit dated and perhaps outclassed by Janet Browne's more recent work, Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist remains an excellent biography of Charles Darwin's life and times. This collaboration of authors Desmond and Moore clearly shows the strength of their combined scholarship on the subject.Obviously extensively researched, this tome is acaptivating narrative of Darwin that both the historian and the layperson can read. Through them, we see Darwin placed properly in the cultural, social, religious and political context of 19th century England. They portray Darwin as the "tormented evolutionist" who is buffeted in the waves of political turmoil, economic recession, religious upheaval, and personal suffering which affect every aspect of his life, including of course his theory of evolution.
The book begins in 1801, eight years before Darwin was born. This choice of starting date indicates the intention of the authors to encompass the entire century and forebears of Darwin, not just the individual. Beginning with Erasmus senior, the authors describe in depth each and every person who touched Darwin's life. His father, siblings, wife and children, and all his colleagues and friends are brought to life in vivid detail. Though normally portrayed as an intensely private, quiet person, these authors have shown just how much these people influence Darwin and shaped his personal and professional life.
Desmond and Moore submerge us into the world of 19th century England, and place Darwin in his proper social context. Darwin, from a respectable Anglican heritage of wealth, had the best education money and influence could buy him. The authors exhaustively examine his educational influences, from the professors he interacted with to the books he read. Meanwhile, all around him, Tories and Whigs struggled for supremacy in government, but he tended to remove himself as far from the political sphere as possible. Yet he could not entirely escape it, and it affected his family and his dealings with colleagues, to whom political affliation was as important an issue as the validity of intellectual theories. The authors examine Darwin's theories as inherently political entities, which inevitably drew Darwin into politics. But it was his supporters Kingsley and Huxley who engaged on the poltical and religious battlefield for him. Darwin preferred to avoid conflict, a stance repeated in his religious views as well.
Many who read this book will no doubt be interested in the portrayal of Darwin's religious beliefs. Desmond and Moore show him clinging to the last bit of his Unitarian religion, but near the end of his life he seemed to have given up on religion entirely. His wife Emma urged him to read the Bible and take strength from it, but he could not answer her. As his illness sapped his life away, she grew ever more desperate that they would not reunite in the afterworld.
Ever since he returned from the Beagle voyage, Darwin was assailed with weakness and constant vomiting. For the whole rest of his life he endured the draining illness, which is illustrated in graphic detail by Desmond and Moore. It touched every aspect of his life, turning him from a vibrant, sociable young man to an invalid who could not travel far or receive visitors regularly. Darwin here is portrayed as a man of indomitable will who persevered in his research and work even though constantly ill. Desmond and Moore show the role of not only physical pain but mental anguish in Darwin's life. Each family member or friend that he lost is detailed, with whatever record exists of Darwin's grief. Especially poignant is the loss of Annie at age 9, a death that haunted him for the rest of his life. One grasps the idea that life in the 19th century, even for a wealthy gentleman like Darwin, was fraught with death, loss and unending, unexplainable illness. For Darwin and his family health was a fleeting, unattainable state of being that framed their entire existence.
The issue of "Darwin's Delay" is brought up by John van Wyhe in his article ""Mind the gap: Did Darwin avoid publishing his theory for many years?" in Notes & Records of the Royal Society, 61. He accuses Desmond and Moore of perpetuating the historical myth that Darwin delayed publishing the Origin for twenty years because of fear of criticism. The idea of a "delay" originated in the 1970s among historians, and even appeared in a few BBC documentaries. It does appear in The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist but I believe not as strongly as van Wyhe suggests. Darwin is in fact portrayed as being fearful of his friends' reaction should he tell them of his belief in transmutation, when no evidence supports this, according to van Whye. So, perhaps Desmond and Moore fell into the historical myth of Darwin's supposed "fear" of his colleague's reaction. However, as for the presumed delay in publication, Desmond and Moore do show that Darwin had taken up other projects as opportunities presented themselves. There was no conscious thought of dropping the Origin purposefully because of fear or uneasiness. Darwin originally intended his work on barnacles to supplement his theory of natural selection. That it took him longer than he anticipated was no surprise: all his projects did, due to his illness.
This begs the question: How much in this biography is the conjecture on the part of the authors, and how much of it is Darwin? There is no doubt that the authors played a part in its extreme readability and engaging narrative by using their judgment to piece together parts of letters, manuscripts and other sources. Yet it is easy to get caught up in the story and accept everything the authors say as historical fact, when perhaps it is not. As with any book, I encourage the reader to engage the text critically.
This book is an informative, enjoyable read and I highly recommend it to all Darwin enthusiasts and those who wish to know more about Darwin the man and the circumstances which gave birth to evolution.

5-0 out of 5 stars Darwin in Context
Penned by a team of accomplished historians, this massive biography of sweeping scope and rich detail serves as a corrective to much previous Darwin scholarship. The authors adhere to a modern standard of historiographic analysis committed to incorporating the multiple frames of reference in which events unfold. Such narratives reflect how communicating the meaning of "personal" events critically depends upon sensitivity to social and political milieu. A loose analogy: couched in terms of evolutionary theory, no life is an isolated phenomenon but a dynamic interaction of organism and environment (for social animals, an environs where interaction with others plays a dominant role).

A common form of historical distortion Desmond and Moore transcend is biography in which a Great Man is valorized in his solitary struggle to prevail. In contrast, their writing reflects the myriad ways Darwin's life and thought intertwined with influential others: family, friends, mentors, scientific institutions, and networks of supportive scholars and political sympathizers. Dozens of others play significant roles across the panorama of Darwin's life. What emerges is a story both nuanced and complex, with frequent, surprising turns. For instance, though Darwin is committed to a radical philosophical perspective, his politics are irrevocably conservative. And though Darwin himself is not anti-clerical (his formal education was strongest in theology), the political will of his most provocative proponent (Thomas Huxley) made public contests with church authorities a foregone conclusion- an agenda less about the merits of Darwinian theory (which escaped Huxley) than a determination to diminish the influence of the clergy.

Where other biographies attempt reconstruction of Darwin's intellectual life, this book takes a broad view of intellectual currents in 19th-century British culture. Several variants of evolutionary theory predate Darwin, for example. Most are in accord with the concept of common descent (one species gives rise to another in succession) though none adhere to Darwin's logic of new species branching off. Natural selection, his original contribution to the mechanism of evolutionary change, is strongly resisted and finds few adherents in his day. There is much more to the prehistory of Darwin's evolutionary theory (regarding geologic and fossil records, for instance), yet one must look elsewhere for those details. Likewise, Desmond and Moore do not explain the ramifications of Darwin's theories in subsequent generations. Their narrative ends with his interment in Westminster Abbey.

Political thought in Darwin's day included strong currents of dissent against both the aristocratic monarchy, and the ecclesiastics of the Anglican Church. If this seems far removed from the science of things Darwinian, consider this passage from the book's preface: "'Social Darwinism' is often taken to be something extraneous, an ugly concretion added to the pure Darwinian corpus after the event, tarnishing Darwin's image. But his notebooks make plain that competition, free trade, imperialism, racial extermination, and sexual inequality were written into the equation from the start- 'Darwinism' was always intended to explain human society." Desmond and Moore assert the political roots of Darwin's vision can be traced in his writings about pressing social issues of his day. Their narrative reveals how Darwin's family and social circle justified adhering to a Malthusian ethic- blind to cooperative impulses - that normalized competition, struggle, and scarcity.

The authors' strategy shapes an appropriate lens through which to view the events of Darwin's life on their own terms- that is, as they developed from of the dynamics of Victorian society. Our common tendency is to distort historical accounts through a point of view adopted- quite naturally- from our vantage in the present, and to assume an inevitability of outcomes (i.e., things were meant to turn out this way- otherwise known as the Naturalistic Fallacy). It is just this sort of presumptive distortion which Darwin sought to counter in his scientific vision of evolutionary development.

Too, this approach enriches the book's sensitive depiction of Darwin's personal relationships. One of his early mentors, and source for his early political education, was Cambridge professor Rev. J. S. Henslow. Darwin's "burning zeal" for scientific pursuits ignited under the influence of Rev. W. Paley's Natural Theology. Other influences include: Robert Grant, his closest mentor at Edinburgh University, and an uncompromising evolutionistist; Lyell, whose Principles of Geology shaped Darwin's early career, and whose personal collaboration helped motivate his first efforts to collate his data and clarify his theories; Joseph Hooker, a close friend, whose judgment and opinion were ever precious to Darwin; his selfless first cousin and faithful wife Emma, who bore him ten children and ran their household.

Just as Darwin himself understood evolution as multi-causal, we are invited to appreciate Darwin in light of a constellation of influences. The emergent message of his novel theorizing reflects the similarities he observed between unadorned wilderness and the cultural landscapes of men: in his vision, "survival of the fittest" (a turn of phrase coined by Herbert Spencer) applies equally as the driver of incremental evolutionary change, and the "engine of social progress" (p. 653). That vision became the pivotal principle of Darwin's grand synthesis, and the consensus of England's rising tide of liberal voices as well- insistent that the old political order must give way. Darwin concluded that natural selection determines who prevails in the marketplace in the same way relentless competition drives diversity in nature.

This book is engaging, lucid in style, and a pleasant read. Punctuated with quotations from Darwin's recently published notebooks and voluminous correspondence, it also includes many illustrations of key figures, locations, and more. It is an epic book, unreservedly recommended to anyone interested in the foundations of evolutionary science, or committed to broadening their cultural competency. Desmond and Moore admirably detail the relevant 19th-century science. Yet further, they illuminate how that science came to embrace a materialist ethic to guard against teleological assumptions seen confounding our grasp of nature's processes. Though some less hefty volumes may adequately explore the simple facts of Charles Darwin's life and thought, it is this title- above all others to date- that portrays Darwin in context.
... Read more

9. The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (Penguin Classics)
by Charles Darwin
Paperback: 400 Pages (2009-07-28)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$10.32
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Asin: 0141439440
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The most popular of Darwin's books during his lifetime, in a beautifully illustrated new edition

Featuring dozens of color photographs from Darwin's original publication, this edition-issued to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birth-makes this classic study newly accessible to modern readers. Published in 1872, The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals was a book at the very heart of Darwin's research interests. Darwin's main goal was to demonstrate the power of his theories for explaining the origin of our most cherished human qualities, morality and intellect. The work engages some of the hardest questions in the evolution debate, and it shows the ever-cautious Darwin at his boldest. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars A bit old-fashioned for me
I found this book not particularly useful for what I was interested in -- the perception and expression of emotions. Darwin spent most of the book describing the physical mechanisms of expression, muscles and all. He seemed to be concerned to prove the connection of human emotional expression to those of the other animals, something that I pretty much accept already. There were pictures of people's faces, but many of them I found confusing, not clear as to what emotion they were supposed to be showing. Lots of 19th century people, strange to a modern, if that is what I am!

This book was written by Charles Darwin and published in 1872, and deals with how both humans and animals express emotions. It contains material that he gathered while writing his book on human evolution, The Descent of Man: The Concise Edition.

He states early on in the book, "No doubt as long as man and all other animals are viewed as independent creations, an effectual stop is put to our natural desire to investigate as far as possible the causes of Expression ... He who admits on general grounds that the structure and habits of all animals have been gradually evolved, will look at the subject of Expression in a new and interesting light."

He articulates three general principles which "throw light on the theory of the subject," namely, "The principle of serviceable associated Habits," "The principle of Antithesis," and "The principle of actions due to the constitution of the Nervous System."

Many of Darwin's observations are interesting, such as:

"(T)he essence of savagery seems to consist in the retention of a primordial condition, and this occasionally holds good even with bodily pecularities."

"The expression here considered, whether that of a playful sneer or ferocious snarl, is one of the most curious which occurs in man.It reveals his animal descent..."

"Blushing is the most peculiar and the most human of all expressions."

This book will interest students of Darwin, and of the development of evolutionary theory. ... Read more

10. From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin's Four Great Books (Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals)
by Charles Darwin
Hardcover: 1706 Pages (2005-11-07)
list price: US$39.95 -- used & new: US$26.21
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Asin: 0393061345
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Hailed as "superior" by Nature, this landmark volume is  available in a collectible, boxed edition.Never before have the four great works of Charles Darwin—Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle (1845), The Origin of Species (1859), The Descent of Man (1871), and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)—been collected under one cover. Undertaking this challenging endeavor 123 years after Darwin's death, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson has written an introductory essay for the occasion, while providing new, insightful introductions to each of the four volumes and an afterword that examines the fate of evolutionary theory in an era of religious resistance. In addition, Wilson has crafted a creative new index to accompany these four texts, which links the nineteenth-century, Darwinian evolutionary concepts to contemporary biological thought. Beautifully slipcased, and including restored versions of the original illustrations, From So Simple a Beginning turns our attention to the astounding power of the natural creative process and the magnificence of its products. 101 illustrations ... Read more

Customer Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars A Work of Immense Significance
Darwin's theory of evolution has become widely celebrated and supported, since his first publication of The Origin of Species in 1859.Few other books or scientific ideas have had such an impact in recent times.Wilson has collected Darwin's four major books, which document Darwin's support for the theory of evolution, under one volume.Critics will note that E.O. Wilson has for a long time rejected the capacity of religion and scientific views to coexist.I part ways with Wilson, thinking that some reconciliation of religious and scientific views is plausible, but that any religious view of modern times must be based not in superstition, but in hope and in reason.Suffice it to say, liberal (or rather non-literal) views of religion are compatible with Darwin's theory, while literal (fundamentalist) views generally are not.I heartily recommend reading this book, no matter what your background is.E.O. Wilson does not insert his opinions or views in the matter in the body of Darwin's text, save for a brief afterword at the end.Readers should get a fair and objective view of Darwin, having read these four books.Darwin's theory should be read, and understood, simply for its tremendous intrinsic reward and the immense impact it has had.For this - the obvious impact of the theory - I give Darwin's works 5 stars.Nonetheless, I must confess as a non-specialist in evolution, there are large tracts of the book that read like a tedious anatomical manual, and may seem to be of 2 stars interest.In spite of that drawback, I have to give Darwin's theory the credit I believe it has deserved for laying the foundations to modern biology and modern views of man's place in the world.Five stars.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Cumbersome Masterpiece
This single volume edition of Darwin's four most noted books masterfully brings together his pioneering analysis and conclusions. However, in a practical sense, the 4-lb volume is difficult to read. I would prefer four volumes, preferably paperbacks.

5-0 out of 5 stars Darwin was a GENIUS

It all started after a friend told me about "Darwin and the Beagle" by Alan Moorehead. I purchased it and read it all through, found it very interesting, but I wanted to know more about it. So I purchased the four books by C. Darwin because I was very curious to know what he personally reported. I am still reading the first of the three books. It is most interesting and I frankly believe that Darwin was a genius and a wonderful person.

5-0 out of 5 stars So Simple a Beginning, So Profound a Journey
I have had two worn-out paperback copies of Origin of Species and The Voyage of the Beagle for many years and enjoyed them greatly.But, my eyes are not quite as good as they used to be at reading small print, and besides I wanted nicer copies after all this time. I had never gotten around to The Descent of Man and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, which I wanted to read in order to expand my understanding of Darwin and evolution.This edition itself is very nicely finished.The original illustrations have been beautifully restored.The essays by E.O. Wilson are informative and insightful.As others have said, tho', I wish that Dr. Wilson had expanded his essays.Good as they were, I wanted more.Darwin himself was a very good writer with a skill at clear explanation and an obvious love for nature and its subjects.Darwin is still one of the best at explaining the theory which he and Wallace originated.As a basic source of the most essential writings by Charles Darwin, this edition could not be much better.This is one to keep on your bookshelf for years to come.You have in your hands one of the greatest insights in all of human history and science, equal to the visions of Galileo, Newton, and Einstein.For me, evolution and the theory of natural selection surpass in importance any other other discovery in science, dealing as it does with the history of life and our place in nature.It should be lastly noted that "theory" should be taken in its scientific sense when talking about evolution.A theory is a description of how something works -- not something unproven.Evolution is proven and real.Intelligent Design, on the other hand, is an unproven and illogical proposition which explains nothing.

1-0 out of 5 stars so simple a b

11. The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin
by Benjamin Wiker
Hardcover: 256 Pages (2009-06-02)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$8.45
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Asin: 1596980974
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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In "The Darwin Myth", author Benjamin Wiker offers a critical analysis of Darwin's theories as well as the social, scientific, and religious implications of his work, leading us to the inevitable truth about Darwin's powerful - yet ultimately poisonous - legacy. Scientists often challenge conventional wisdom and spark debates that last for generations. But no scientist has fuelled more debate than Charles Darwin. To some he is the revolutionary 'father' of evolution. To others he is the perverse 'originator' of modern eugenics. And in "The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin", author Benjamin Wiker brings these conflicting identities to light. He offers a critical examination of Darwin's theories as well as the scientific, social, and religious implications of his life and work. In "The Darwin Myth", Wiker reveals: How Darwin's theories were originally met by scepticism and criticism - much of which he couldn't refute and are still valid today; why Darwin didn't 'discover' evolution; and how science itself suggests God created the universe.Laying out the evidence and sound scientific arguments, Wiker illuminates the inevitable truth about Darwin's powerful - yet ultimately poisonous - legacy. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (19)

1-0 out of 5 stars What a disappointment
Having read, and learned from, "10 Books That Screwed Up the World, (hate that title, though), I was looking forward to this book.However, I was disappointed.Wiker gives an interesting overview of Darwin's life which is, overall, very sympathetic.Wiker is most concerned with Darwin's lies that he was a Christian until the death of his daughter.Clearly, Darwin was never a Christian, despite his father's plans for him to become a member of the clergy.Darwin also lied in saying that the theory of evolution originated with him.Evolution goes back to Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus, but historically it really goes back, in one form or another, hundreds or thousands of years.So evolution was not new with Darwin.

Wiker's main criticism of Darwin and Darwinism is that Darwin clearly used his theory to eliminate the need for God.If all that is around us can come about by blind chance, then God is not necessary and man is not answerable to anyone greater than him.Wiker wants to maintain evolution but add God into the mix.

Wiker states as fact that evolution is the mechanism by which all living things came into being.He states as fact that the earth is billions of years old.He backs up neither of these assumptions.He points out several problems with Darwinism and its supposed mechanisms, but never shows any alternatives that would support the theory of evolution.Wiker simply wants to add God on top of the mix.He fails to explain that evolution requires God to use death to "create."This is totally in opposition to the God of the Bible who tells us in Romans 5 that death came into the world because of sin, not as a creative force.Without man's sin, there would have been no death.

Darwin recognized that a large problem with the theory of evolution is the lack of transition fossils.If we got here by multiple "small" changes, where are the bodies of the transitions?They should be present in the millions.Instead, we have a few easily disproved examples.

If molecules to man evolution is true, where did the information come from?DNA is a meaningless molecule unless there is a previously existing "dictionary" of meaning for the codons.Where did that come from?Where did the incredible complexity and interdependence of our world and universe come from?This marvelous design screams for a supernatural Designer.There is no way that all this came about by chance, random processes.

Wiker briefly touches on social Darwinism and eugenics, pointing out that it is the logical extension of Darwinism.He states that Darwin was not a racist (which is very debatable) and was against slavery.However, racism and slavery are the logical outcomes of Darwin's theory.So Darwin was not able to live in a way that was consistent with his theory.

All in all, I think Wiker wants the worldly respectability of holding on to the theory of evolution while being a Christian.One can only do that if one ignores and disbelieves the Bible.Then one has the problem of deciding which parts to believe and which parts to leave behind.How can one know?Trust the Bible; trust God.Darwinism and evolution are lies.We are here because God created us to give Him glory.The creation around us confirms this.

3-0 out of 5 stars Missing Core Christianity
The book is a nice read, but would be a great read if it reflected Christianity.

Today's "Christianity" attempts to appeal to the unbeliever by apologizing for Jesus. So here we read in this book that Darwin was a "good man." Yet Jesus was all too clear that only God was good (Luke 18:19). The author would have us believe that Darwin would have easily been a "saint" because he was naturally good. These statements underscore deeply that the author has no concept of the humility in Jesus. It is little wonder then that the author was taken in by Darwin's false humility, (Colossians 2:18)

The author prides, yes prides himself on not following into the normal trap Christians do concerning Darwin. This attempt to be friends with the world, (see book of James) causes an unnatural portrayal of Darwin's "good" qualities. Finally, but not least, the author also prides himself on not committing the sin of "sloth" by reading the words of Darwin. Poor be the soul that actually minds his business and preaches the foolishness of the cross. Paul would certainly have been interested to know that it is sloth to mind one's own business, for he wrote, Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you,(1 Thessalonians 4:11)

Again, the book is a good read if one can get past the wide road Christianity that is presented. Where intellectual study of opposing concepts are exalted rather than being a fool for Jesus.

Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a "fool" so that he may become wise.(1 Corinthians 3:18)

1-0 out of 5 stars A sad book by a sad man
Well, Where to start.

First, why is it that everyone seems to think that writing history (I am classifying biographyas a form of history) requires na actual scientific skills in the field of history? History is a subject in and of itself. Why would anyone want to read a book about the inner workings of heart valves by a historian with no training in medicine? Ah but if a non-historian writes history we do not seem to mind.

Second, if the author were truely aspiring to any sense of objectivity or even interested in stocking to the facts, why is this book riddled with things that are either untrue or more than sufficiently rebutted?

It is sad to see cratiosnists and religious people refusing to look at facts. The simply repeat their views and ignore any answers you might have and this nook is a good example of it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Better Than Expected...
Readable, charitable and cogent.The Darwin Myth is not overblown propoganda but rather sober and grace filled in its treatment of Darwin.It presents him as a benificent affiable man and yet who seemed hamstrung by adopting a materialistic philosophy of life that boxed him in a corner concerning how to explain why a person should "be moral".I almost wish the title was different so that those who hold to Darwinistic philosophy might be more inclined to read it since it truly was a work that could benefit all.

1-0 out of 5 stars Exciting story, but unfortunately not of the Real Charles Darwin
Wiker mostly is interested in discrediting evolutionary biology, and in this pursuit this book offers nothing new. Wiker's claim to fame is that he attributes Darwin's discoveries to his rampant atheism.

I have read several biographies of Charles Darwin, but this is the least compelling, written clearly to discredit the man and the evolutionary biology that he initiated.The motive of Darwin, in The Origin of the Species and other works, according to Wiker, was to give support for Darwin's strongly-held atheistic beliefs, and to apply a deadly thrust to theistic beliefs. Of course, only an individual of limited mental capacity could reason that if Darwin had ulterior motives in his research, the results should be rejected. Evolutionary theory has been validated literally thousands of times and never has been contradicted. It is now the basis for all of biological theory. Moreover, Darwinian evolution in no way undermines a belief in God, although it is incompatible with some religious cosmologies, including the fact that the Universe is many billions of years old and humans and chimpanzees have a common ancestor.

The fact is that Darwin was a believer for most of his life, and his faith was shattered only when his beloved daughter Annie was taken from the world a the age of ten. Darwin later likened this event with what appeared to be the egregious horrors in the battle for survival exhibited by many natural species. Certainly Darwin was never hostile to religion. His wife was deeply religious and Darwin himself was involved in religious practices to the end of his days.

Darwin was ill and wracked with pain most of his life, but he was a rather upstanding, highly moral, scientist, father, and husband. Darwin regretted his agnosticism, and always considered himself as a believer in a higher being, his agnosticism being only a scientist's reaction to the lack of proof of the exisence of this higher being. Nor was Darwin himself ever a supporter of what came to be known as "Sccial Darwinism," a highly popular but pernicious political doctrine.

I have not read Darwin's autobiography, but the Rev. Paul Fayter reports on his web site the following facts, which confirm my analysis:

Near the end of his life, Darwin thought it impossible to conceive that "this immense and wonderful universe" was "the result of blind chance or necessity." No, it still seemed that the world had been willed into being. "I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man," he wrote in his autobiography, "and I deserve to be called a Theist." At the same time, Darwin believed that "the mystery of the beginning of all things" was simply unsolvable; and so he also declared, "I for one must be content to remain an agnostic."

I do not believe in ad hominem argument, and I am willing to believe that those who detract from Darwin's image as a decent person are motivated purely by their love of God, and do not suffer from the bigotry and limited intelligence that they appear to reveal. However, this does not absolve them from responsibility for their errors. The love of God is not an excuse for egregious and blatant error.

... Read more

12. Who Was Charles Darwin? (Who Was...?)
by Deborah Hopkinson
Paperback: 112 Pages (2005-05-19)
list price: US$4.99 -- used & new: US$1.40
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0448437643
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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As a young boy, Charles Darwin hated school and was often scolded for conducting "useless" experiments. Yet his passion for the natural world was so strong that he suffered through terrible seasickness during his five-year voyage aboard The Beagle. Darwin collected new creatures from the coasts of Africa, South America, and the Galapagos Islands,and expanded his groundbreaking ideas that would change people’s understanding of the natural world. About 100 illustrations and a clear, exciting text will make Darwin and his theory of evolution an exciting discovery for every young reader. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great for elementary school and adults!
I LOVE this book!Last year when everyone was having Lincoln's 200th birthday celebrations, I decided to go into my 2nd graders classroom to let them know that another great man - Charles Darwin - was born on the exact same day!It was his 200th birthday too and I thought he deserved some credit.This was a great quick read on Darwin's life with some pictures in it too.I of course brought in "Species" and some other Darwin books, but I bought two extra copies of this book to donate to the classroom and the library.It's a perfect chapter book biography for the elementary kids, but like I said, it was a nice short read for me too!I look forward to reading and sharing with my kids the other "Who Was" books in the series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Book!!
My 8-year-old son Ben wrote this review:

I love this book!
I learned who Charles Darwin was. He created the theory of evolution with his discoveries. He was a very seasick passenger who sailed around the world.He loved animals. Read this great book about this great man to learn more about him. This is the best "Who Was" book ever. He is the best scientist of his time. Please buy this book. It is one of the best. You will never stop reading till the end of this book then you read it again. It also has great pictures too! I loved it. You will love it too! Now I love science and I learned about the changing of animals and humans. I learned a lot! He found a lot of stuff. He was friends with Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker, Thomas Henry Huxley, and Sir Charles Lyell. I also love other "Who Was" books. It makes me feel like I'm there. Darwin wrote two books.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great introductory book
My 9 year old daughter read this book to me in about 4 days, at her own pace and enjoyed it much. It contains a consice but very informative review about Charles Darwin as a person while considering the influence of his time and environment on how he got to develop his theory. It contains just enough information about his theory of evolution to be meaningful and engaging for a 9 to 13 year old child without becoming boring or too complex. I highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars fynn pinn
My son enjoys the whole serie, he says: "It describes things really well , it makes me think I were really there." ... Read more

13. The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals
by Charles Darwin
 Hardcover: 252 Pages (2006-08-14)
list price: US$64.99 -- used & new: US$64.99
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Asin: 1428023135
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The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals is a book by the British naturalist Charles Darwin published in 1872, on how humans and non-human animals express their emotions.

Darwin noted the universal nature of facial expressions in the book: "...the young and the old of widely different races, both with man and animals, express the same state of mind by the same movements."

He became diverted into making extensive revisions to the Origin of Species, then in the spring of 1872 Darwin pressed on with The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, pointing to shared evolution in contrast to Charles Bell's Anatomy and Physiology of Expression which claimed divinely created muscles to express man's exquisite feelings. Darwin drew on world wide responses to his questionnaires, hundreds of photographs of actors, babies and "imbeciles" in an asylum, as well as his own observations, with particular empathy for the grief following a family death. ... Read more

14. On the Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition
by Charles Darwin
Hardcover: 560 Pages (2008-10-07)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$18.69
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Asin: 1402756399
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation
of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life
. In his landmark study, Darwin theorized that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. These ideas flew in the face of long-held beliefs, and the book immediately became one of the most controversial scientific works in history—and it still remains so today. Now, for the first time, Darwin’s classic is fully and handsomely illustrated with more than 350 illustrations and photos, many of them in brilliant color. Reproductions from Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle, his journal of the travels that led to his remarkable breakthrough, appear throughout, inviting readers to experience Darwin’s journey and to understand how he developed his theory of evolution. In addition, brief excerpts from his
letters, diaries, and correspondence bring both Darwin the man and his
revolutionary discovery to life.
A Main Selection of Scientific America.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (17)

5-0 out of 5 stars Perfect to share in the classroom!
This is a short and simple review as other reviewers have aptly described in detail all this book has to offer. When I received it, I rediscovered the joy you had when you were a child of opening up a book that you just knew you were going to treasure - the Origin itself, the illustrations (both drawings & pictures), the excerpts from Darwin's other writings and from the captain of the Beagle - all add to the experience. I thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in it this morning when it arrived as my delight grew as I turned it page by page. I bought it for me, but also with the intent to take it into the classroom to share with my students. This will arouse much more interest among them than a copy of just the Origin itself. Perusing the many illustrations can't help but draw you into reading the captions then some of Darwin's nearby words. Oh, I have no pretensions that the students will read it in it's entirely, but some of them will read some of it and seeing its gorgeous, rich treatment cannot but help them to respect the importance of Darwin's work. It is an expense but well worth Amazon's discounted price!

For those students who might be put off from a large, heavy book, I purchased Daniel Loxton's Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be which condenses the up-to-date scientific knowledge on evolution into one to two page bits by topic again heavy with illustrations but in very simple text.

As to how I intend to get it into my students' hands? I intend to build one of my evolution labs such that the students will need to move station by station and will put these books (and maybe a couple of questions to make sure they open them) at one station. The rest of the time I will keep it on display at the front of the room available for checkout during down time and free reading periods.I will try to remember to let you know how it goes.

2-0 out of 5 stars Text and illustrations in conflict
The concept for this book is obviously to provide a lavishly illustrated version of what must be admitted is a dry, academic 19th century text.Unfortunately the illustrations do little to help explain or augment the text; rather, they are often distracting.The illustrations are mostly related to Darwin's personal life and his voyage on the Beagle...a whole separate book.Often the text has no relationship to the accompanying illustrations.The result is both a failure as a coffee table book and as a scholarly book.

2-0 out of 5 stars Dirty Book on delivery
This book is a collectors item. The contents do not disappoint! I really enjoy the drawings to go along with the written pages. It's perfect for anyone who wants to own a single copy of "On the Origin of Species"! My problem is with Amazon! The cover on this book is so filthy, it looks like it had been sitting around a book store for a couple of years before shipping it to me. I really would like Amazon to send me a "Clean Copy", and take this one back. I should have paid the extra money at Barnes & Noble.
Mal Grogan

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful edition of a beautiful book
What a lovely book! I got it for my daughter and she's absolutely thrilled with it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!
This book is absolutely beautiful. Even if you disregard the actual text itself - which one would be a fool to do - the quality of this book is awesome. Strong binding, pleasant typeface, two-column layout, plenty of margin space, text-book quality pages, and of course the abundance of images. This is a book worth keeping on your shelf. The only caveat is that it is large and heavy, making it not very versatile in where and how you read it. If you like to read curled up on a couch holding the book in the air in front of you, this edition is probably not for you. ... Read more

15. Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species: A Graphic Adaptation
by Michael Keller
Hardcover: 192 Pages (2009-10-27)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$9.50
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Asin: 160529697X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A stunning graphic adaptation of one of the most famous, contested, and important books of all time.

Few books have been as controversial or as historically significant as Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Since the moment it was released on November 24, 1859, Darwin’s masterwork has been heralded for changing the course of science and condemned for its implied challenges to religion.

In Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, author Michael Keller and illustator Nicolle Rager Fuller introduce a new generation of readers to the original text. Including sections about his pioneering research, the book’s initial public reception, his correspondence with other leading scientists, as well as the most recent breakthroughs in evolutionary theory, this riveting, beautifully rendered adaptation breathes new life into Darwin’s seminal and still polarizing work.

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Customer Reviews (18)

3-0 out of 5 stars About the art...
I can't really speak to the quality of the text part of the adaptation, not having read the original, but it seems an intelligent representation of the principles introduced by Darwin's theory. It is easy to follow, engaging, and informative.

As to the quality of the illustrations, however, I have to say the cover does not provide an accurate representation of the art inside. The drawings are beautifully colored and laid out well, but the physical forms of the humans and animals (humans especially) are often lifeless and awkward, as well as looking rushed--and definitely not in a stylized manner, although other aspects of her art do show a distinct style. In all, the drawings seem more amateurish than I would expect for such an adaptation. Fuller does many things right, but the talent really isn't there.

Whether the quality bothers you or not is your call, however. The illustrations weren't egregious enough for me to put the book down; a serious artist might get more irritated. I'd recommend this book as a good introduction to evolution for kids, or an entertaining and educational alternative to reading the original text.

5-0 out of 5 stars Recommended
Very enjoyable graphic novel. Well written summary of Origin, with the added impact of well drawn 19th century period style images. This book is also a great companion piece to the DVD "Creation",adramatization of Darwin's thought process as he was contemplating Origin.

5-0 out of 5 stars A picture is worth a thousand words?
Not always necessarily so, of course, but these excellent illustrations plus the cogent explanations of Darwin's principles, laws and theories -- are an effective short-cut method for gaining at least a rudimentary understanding of evolution.

5-0 out of 5 stars Graphic Darwin
This book gives a graphically detailed chapter-by-chapter summary of Darwin's Origin book.It uses the same chapter format and some of the basic quotes from Darwin's book.Helpful if you don't want to immerse yourself into Darwin's original work, but accurate and beautifully illustrated.

4-0 out of 5 stars Very hip and fun.
There are lots of more sophisticated and comprehensive ways of getting a good grounding in evolutionary thought (see, for example, Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body (Vintage), Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul, and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution).But few books match the child-like fun of this book, with its brisk, breezy words and so-crude-it's-sophisticated artwork.Some here have criticized the drawings as being unskilled and even juvenile, and except for some especially handsome nature sketches within the book (and a sumptuous cover), that description comes close to the mark.But that is precisely what gives "Origin: Graphic" its charm.It's like a zine, or an underground comic...not some slick, sciencey tome.It dares to make the Notorious Chuckie D seem hip and subversive.But not by skimping on the science in deference to politics.No, BECAUSE the science in this case is so powerful and confrontational.This book is very much not for everyone, but if you know a teen who enjoys off-label comics and graphic novels and the like, this book might well appeal to her.And for a more sophisticated treatment of individual evolutionary biology topics, I recommend the works of Jay Hossler, including especially Clan Apis. ... Read more

16. The Tree of Life: Charles Darwin (New York Times Best Illustrated Books (Awards))
by Peter Sis
Hardcover: 44 Pages (2003-10-01)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$7.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374456283
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In this brilliant presentation of a revolutionary thinker's life, the picture book becomes an art form

As far as I can judge, I am not apt to follow blindly the lead of other men . . .

Charles Darwin was, above all else, an independent thinker who continues even now to influence the way we look at the natural world. His endless curiosity and passion for detail resulted in a wealth of notebooks, diaries, correspondence, and published writings that Peter Sís transforms into a visual treasure trove. A multilayered journey through Darwin’s world, The Tree of Life begins with his childhood and traces the arc of his life through university and career, following him around the globe on the voyage of the Beagle, and home to a quiet but momentous life devoted to science and family. Sís uses his own singular vision to create a gloriously detailed panorama of a genius’s trajectory through investigating and understanding the mysteries of nature. In pictures executed in fine pen and ink and lush watercolors – cameo portraits, illustrated pages of diary, cutaway views of the Beagle, as well as charts, maps, and a gatefold spread – Peter Sís has shaped a wondrous introduction to Charles Darwin.
Amazon.com Review
Here is a fascinating, detailed look at the life of Charles Darwin: naturalist, geologist, and independent thinker. In his author's note, Caldecott Honor illustrator Peter Sis (Starry Messenger, Tibet: Through the Red Box) writes that Darwin always regretted not learning how to draw. However, he could and did take "dense and vivid" written notes, from which Sis drew his inspiration. Readers will spend hours poring over the gorgeous, intricately crafted pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations depicting layer upon layer of Darwin’s life as he developed his theories about the origins of life and natural selection. Tidbits from Darwin’s extensive and legendary voyage on the Beagle, notes on Galapagos tortoises, bloodsucking benchuca bugs, and Toxodon skeletons, and particulars from his family life intermingle with each other--just as in real life. Crammed with a veritable muddle of diary entries, cameo portraits, diagrams, natural illustrations, maps, timelines, a gatefold spread, and narrative divided into "Public Life," "Private Life," and "Secret Life" blocks of text, The Tree of Life will certainly be overwhelming to some readers; for other, less linear thinkers, it will be sheer, chaotic delight. (Ages 9 and older) --Emilie Coulter ... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

5-0 out of 5 stars Is this only for children?
I got a series of Peter Sis books as a reference for a children's picture book for a school assignment. This book is not only for children. It's for everyone. Each day I look at it you discover something new. The visual style and artwork helps to get into the book, both for its sheer amount of detail, surreal imagery, and deep thought involved into it.

I must say, this should be a definitive buy. It's timeless, down to earth, and more importantly INSPIRING!

Long live Charles Darwin!

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful Illustrations
Purchased this book for my four year old granddaughter.When we started to read it she announced that she thought it was too old for her.Then we got to the pages of drawings and she was completely fascinated.

This is a children's book that adults can also enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Tree of Knowledge
This was a delightful read.The illustrations are simple, but evocative and enjoyable.They are exactly what is needed for the text.More than any other book I've read, this introduces the young adult reader to who Darwin was as a person.While it is perfect for the inquisitive child of ages 10-13, there's a lot here for the inquisitive child of all ages.Sis shows us the progression of Darwin's thoughts and understanding through Darwin's own words. I had no idea how seriously Darwin took the subjugation of 2/3rds World peoples by Europeans, and how deeply he felt that pain.While I am following along with Darwin's growing understanding of the evolution of fauna and the imperialism of Britain, I completely missed until the end that Darwin was also observing the human animals, and looking at the spread of various cultures as another nail in the edifice of his developing theory on the origin of species.

This is a great book to introduce younger audiences to the father of modern biology, the man who had perhaps the greatest scientific breakthrough in history, and who changed our understanding of all of life.Tree of Life lets us into the inner sanctum, to understand the development from observation to hypothesis to theory, as Darwin himself saw it.

5-0 out of 5 stars beautiful in text and illustrations
Peter Sis is my favorite children's author and illustrator. He also did Starry Eyed Messenger. The books are about Darwin and Galileo, two brave people who changed the way humans see themselves.
His artwork is completely original and breathtaking.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply Excellent
This was my second book in series of 5 books I picked in local library to get myself educated about Darwin. Its awesome. The book is interspread with lots of artist's own impression of Darwin, since Darwin never consider himself to be an artist, the author used his imagination to prepare this book. This is a remarkable book and Author spent a considerable time doing these wonderful illustrations. After having read all 5 books I reread this book many times overs. It takes a few minutes to finish it, but you could be spending hrs marvelling Darwin by looking at these pictures. A wonderful book which packs a lot of information in few pages. ... Read more

17. The Power of Movement in Plants
by Sir Francis Darwin, Charles Darwin
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-10-04)
list price: US$1.99
Asin: B002RKT1KQ
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This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

18. The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication, Volume 2 (Foundations of Natural History)
by Charles Darwin
Paperback: 518 Pages (1998-03-24)
list price: US$20.95 -- used & new: US$17.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0801858674
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Editorial Review

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The publication of Darwin's On the Origin of Species in 1859 ignited a public storm he neither wanted nor enjoyed. Having offered his book as a contribution to science, Darwin discovered to his dismay that it was received as an affront by many scientists and as a sacrilege by clergy and Christian citizens. To answer the criticism that his theory was a theory only, and a wild one at that, he published two volumes in 1868 to demonstrate that evolution was obvious to anyone who cared to look at a bull in a pasture or a dog on a hearth.

In response to those who insisted that species were distinct since creation, Darwin pointed to breeders of pigs and pigeons. In reply to those who protested that human intervention is one thing and natural selection another, he argued, "If organic beings had not possessed an inherent tendency to vary, man could have done nothing." To counter those who scorned his descriptions of species in exotic places, he submitted local evidence of cabbages and cauliflower.

Based on a wide array of sources, from ancient pictographs to Polish roosters, from skins and from skeletons, from scientific journals and breeding manuals, Darwin assembled a mass of proof--and a hypothesis about species reversion that risked his reputation anew. The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication is a two-volume compilation of his thorough and intensive research and the revolutionary conclusions that resulted. The first portion of his work is dedicated to a meticulous analysis of various aspects of plant and animal life, including an inventory of varieties and their physical and behavioral characteristics, investigation of the impact of a species' surrounding environment and the role that both natural and forced changes in this environment have had. Darwin then turns to a richly detailed discussion of the roles of inheritance and crossing in the development of species. A wealth of illustrations further support and enhance his findings. This fascinating, invaluable, and courageous undertaking eventually formed the foundation for our current understanding of evolution.

"In science as in politics the victors tend to write the history books. As a result, the record of the past is edited, intentionally or unintentionally, so that it focuses mainly on the precursors of contemporary orthodoxy. Such a focus may accurately represent the genealogy of modern ideas, but it almost inevitably misrepresents the historical experience of their progenitors... Even the powerful, persuasive, and ultimately triumphant theory of evolution by natural selection required not only defense, but repeated buttressing and revision. Variation showed Darwin hard at work on this rearguard action, using the materials he had at hand... His information was gleaned from the observations of fanciers, breeders, and amateur naturalists, as well as from the treatises of those on the cutting edge of zoology and botany. As hindsight narrows the historical spotlight, it imposes its own sense of hierarchy on the preoccupations of the past. But Darwin was interested in all of these topics, valued all of these sources, and belonged, to a greater or lesser extent, to all of these communities."--from the Introduction.

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19. Charles Darwin: A Biography, Vol. 2 - The Power of Place
by Janet Browne
Paperback: 600 Pages (2003-09-15)
list price: US$26.95 -- used & new: US$16.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0691114390
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In 1858, Charles Darwin was forty-nine years old, a gentleman scientist living quietly at Down House in the Kent countryside. He was not yet a focus of debate; his "big book on species" still lay on his desk as a manuscript. For more than twenty years he had been accumulating material for it, puzzling over the questions that it raised, trying to bring it to a satisfactory conclusion, and wanting to be certain that his startling theory of evolution was correct.

It is at this point that the concluding volume of Janet Browne's magisterial biography opens. Beginning with the extraordinary events that finally forced the Origin of Species into print, we come to the years of fame and controversy. Here, Browne does dramatic justice to all aspects of the Darwinian revolution, from a fascinating examination of the Victorian publishing scene to a survey of the debates between scientists and churchmen over evolutionary theory. At the same time, she presents a wonderfully sympathetic and authoritative picture of Darwin himself. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (16)

5-0 out of 5 stars "My mind seems to have become a kind of machine for grind­ing gen­eral laws out of large col­lec­tions of facts..." -- Darwin
It is a pleasure to have completed the second volume of Janet Browne's magnificent ~1200 page biography of Darwin, perhaps the only biography needed to review the life of a much greater man.Part one, can be found here:Charles Darwin: A Biography, Vol. 1 - Voyaging.Volume two begins with preparations and publication of "On the Origin of Species," and continues until his death 23 years later.His autobiography, edited by Nora Barlow, The Autobiography of Charles Darwin: 1809-1882, is a wonderful addition, mainly to get his own thoughts on a few things, but autobiographies are inadequate to fully examine someone's life.

Allow me to explain a little why Browne's biography is a stellar piece of work.Perhaps you are interested in reading a much shorter treatment of Darwin's life, and there is no shortage of works by competent authors, even writers that can make it all so much more exciting.You may notice a certain spin or a thesis around which all of these authors build their stories of the subject's life.

To an extent, perhaps even Browne does that, but after reading the whole, I cannot easily come away from her work believing she did it all for some political or ideological reason.What I am trying to convey is that she has presented an extremely thorough, wide-ranging, utterly exhaustive treatment which has been done in fairness, showing the great and minor events, even the virtues and vices of Charles Darwin and surrounding significant characters in his life.One can truly walk away from this reading feeling like one has known the great scientist.

So many other articles, books, or even forms of video seem to have gotten so much wrong.One major message I have received from this more authoritative source is that Charles and Emma did not seem to have had much problem because of the differences in regard to faith and belief in Christianity.Emma apparently did not have enormous issues with the things Charles wrote, and was even quite involved with helping him with editing and anything else he needed, as were his sons and daughters, especially Henrietta.

Another revelation (to me) is how late in life it was when he lost faith."I never gave up Christianity until I was forty years of age." -- pg 484.That was part of an interview with some freethinkers that were asking about that particular subject.Earlier in this volume, on pg 391, it is recorded "he felt decisive -- these were the most godless years of his life."This is speaking of the last decade of his life, after the publication of "Descent of Man" and "The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals."

One last example of a treasure mined from this book is a quote from writings of his son, Francis.Only part of this quote is in the book, as Browne was discussing the primitive methods used by Darwin when so many technologies were springing up to modernize his type of experimentation.I went to the source to widen the context a little:

"I have always felt it to be a curious fact, that he who had altered the face of Biological Science, and is in this respect the chief of the moderns, should have written and worked in so essentially a non-modern spirit and manner. In reading his books one is reminded of the older naturalists rather than of the modern school of writers. He was a Naturalist in the old sense of the word, that is, a man who works at many branches of the science, not merely a specialist in one."

The odd thing is that even though he shunned much of the technology available to him that may have standardized and increased the accuracy of his work, he still was more accurate in his assessments and predictions than the vast majority of other scientists working at the time in state of the art facilities, while Darwin was working in his home and the surrounding grounds.

There is indeed beauty and genius in simplicity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Uniformly Excellent Biography of Darwin
This is the second volume of Janet Browne's superb biography of Charles Darwin (1809-1882).Browne, who is now Professor of the History of Science at Harvard, wrote both volumes while at the vital WellCome Trust Center at University College London (also the locale of the late Roy Porter). The book is just excellent all the way through.It picks up just at the point when the march of events is forcing Darwin to publish his finding in the epic "On the Origin of Species," when he is 49.Browne develops some interesting insights; such as the importance of the excellent British postal service to Darwin's work, since he communicated and exchanged information with individuals all around the world.In addition, she focuses upon the importance of that most unique institution, Mudie Library, which did so much to circulate Darwin's books throughout Britain, thereby altering CD's intention that his book would be targeted for a small elite audience. The author also has something to say about one of the most interesting Victorian figures, published John Murray, who benefitted from the surge of publishing and literacy in the mid-Victorian period. The profusion of journals and periodicals, such as the Edinburgh Review and the Westminister Quarterly Review, also did much so disseminate Darwin's ideas, as did events such as the Huxley v. the Bishop of Wilberforce debate ("I'd rather be a monkey than a bishop").

Equally interesting and important is Browne's discussion of how Darwin conducted his research and wrote a number of books.His research of heredity, facial expressions, worms, reefs and other topics are all covered.Browne does a good job in discussing all of the debates that erupted after the publication of the "Origin," and this tells us much about the development of Victorian science and intellectual history. Also of note is her discussion of how Darwin's ideas spread, the effects of celebrity on CD and his work, and his views of Christianity. The book is so well written that it is a pleasure to read, as Browne discusses some difficult concepts with such clarity and skill and every reader, no matter how extensive a scientific background, benefits from her treatment.
The book is supported by 63 pages of excellent notes, some helpful illustrations,and a 36 page bibliography. Browne is generally acknowledged as one of the world's leading scholars on the life and work of Darwin.Her involvement as Associate Editor of the 14 volume "Correspondence of Charles Darwin" has finely honed her understanding of Darwin and his thought.We should all be thankful that she is now at Harvard where more Americans can benefit from her superb expertise and insights.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sick and tired, but he carried on
This one is also great, get both of these wonderful books on Charles Darwin. The first one is slightly better than this one, as one expects from biographies.CD is settled down, mostly writing and promoting his beliefs.He is sick a lot, but carries on. There just got to be too much detail toward the end of this, for me.Otherwise the level of detail and tone was pitchperfect throughout.What an astounding, amazing effort these two books represent.A real gem.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but flawed

This the second volume of Browne's Darwin biography has evoked high praise from a number of Amazon reviewers.It's praise well deserved.Her theme, the importance of Darwin's social position and his dedicated use of it to promote the uptake of his theories, makes a nice counterpoint to the path-breaking Desmond and Moore biography, whose theme was the `tormented evolutionist'.Not that Browne downplays the ghastly burden of Darwin's invalidity on his person and family: torment it assuredly was.Yet he persisted in his labors, which included extensive involvement with many helpers, and somehow managed to bring it all to fruition.What were the emotional springs of that endurance?Dedication to the glory of the Nation, or to Science, or to Mankind?No, the poetry of ideals is missing.Exaltation in his ever-increasing celebrity?Again No.While Darwin kept a detailed record of every review of the Origin and other publications, and took measures to promote them, fame was not his defining horizon.If it were, he probably would not have anguished, as he did, about the expected heat entropy termination of life on Earth some millions of years hence.Consistent with that gloom, his final publication was on worms, whose habitat, he well understood, he would soon join.Browne writes: `He was in the grip of a vision of time as powerful and as bleak as anything in Victorian culture'.The source of his endurance seems to have been his immersion in the routine of Downe House.The routine included his dependency on wife Emma and the kids, especially Henrietta and Francis.He kept a detailed account of household expenses and, in pinchpenny manner, insisted on avoidance of extravagance despite his wealth, which he more than doubled thanks to astute investments.Although he could have easily created a state-of-the-art research station at Downe, he persisted (against Francis' appeals) in the use of crude and meager equipment, much to the amazement of scientists who visited him.Yet greatness somehow arose from just this obsessive immersion in routine that stretched over four decades.Browne notes that his devoted friend Joseph Hooker exclaimed on receiving a photographic portrait that he `looked like Moses'. Sons William and Francis agreed.So have millions who've seen the expression of deep thoughtfulness in the numerous portraits of the frail, aging Darwin.

What was his illness?His death certificate specified angina pectoris syncope as the cause.Today an autopsy would probably confirm cardiac arrest.He had experienced heart pains periodically for years, although several physicians found no symptoms of heart disease.I was surprised that in her illuminating discussion of his illnesses Browne doesn't notice that Darwin's fatigue, which greatly reduced his mobility for about two decades, is consistent with heart failure.When we add the information that Darwin was a long-time smoker, confidence in that diagnosis increases.And the retching and flatulence?Browne mentions the proposal that these symptoms could be effects of Chagas disease, caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which he might have contracted in Chile.Retching, skin rashes, and heart disease are symptoms of the disease in its chronic phase.This is an attractive diagnosis, since it achieves concordance of clinical signs from two causal pathways.Browne puts it aside because, it seems, she suspects an interaction between Darwin's stressed emotional life, his peculiar withdrawal into the Downe House refuge, and physical symptoms (pp. 235ff).Alas, she seems unacquainted with contemporary psychiatry, which would easily read her symptom list as indicative of the Avoidant Personality Disorder (`Grief and guilt surely played their part in his psyche.Fear, too, especially in the way his body would most often fail when he intended make a public appearance, suggesting some deep-seated dread of exposure.His customary reticence may have reflected a wish to avoid getting involved with other people's emotions-reticence and modesty could have been the polite face of dissociation, the spurning of closeness' p. 237).APD would link Darwin's strong avoidance pattern with his equally strong striving for approval, and pain on the occasion of disapproval of friends and strangers.It also incorporates his many self-deprecations and his anticipations, even from friends, that they might respond to a thought of his with extreme disapproval, eg, `crucifixion'.

I turn briefly to Browne's rendition of the Huxley-Wilberforce debate at the June 1860 BAAS meeting in Oxford.The debate is a paramount icon in the Darwin legend and a `defining moment in Victorian history' (p 115).The confrontation occurred on the last day of a conference that had been dominated by public and academic excitement about the Origin of Species.A large audience turned out expecting to hear Bishop Wilberforce `smash' Darwin's theory.They were not disappointed, for the Bishop, who was Bishop of Oxford and hence on home ground, did indeed criticize the theory on a number of points.The presiding officer, Darwin's former teacher Rev Henslow, called on Huxley to speak.He defended the logic and evidence of Darwin's theory, and finished with the damning declaration that if he had to choose between accepting an ape as his grandfather and a high dignitary who obfuscated science to defend prejudice, then he would prefer the ape grandfather.The Darwin legend interprets Huxley's retort as a one-line `proof' of the superiority of science to theology which also shifted the mixed feelings of the audience into emphatic support for Huxley and science.But did it happen?Did Wilberforce taunt Huxley about his ancestry and did Huxley respond as claimed?Did the audience convulse in laughter at the Bishop and treat Huxley as a hero, as he boasted?Doubts arise because the first report of this incident was an aside in a 1898 article, `A Grandmother's Tale', in Macmillan's Magazine-38 years after the event!The critical literature on this event has pretty well reduced it to wishful thinking of Darwin partisans, beginning with Huxley's imaginary self-congratulatory victory.Even if the facts were as claimed in The Grandmother's Tale, they would have no bearing on the substance of Wilberforce's criticisms, which he detailed in a lengthy review of Origin.As for Huxley, he had publicly expressed doubts about the compatibility of Darwin's theory with the long periods of stasis in the fossil record; and he never accepted natural selection as the main mechanism of evolution.Browne's narrative of this iconically central issue is unsatisfactory.She does not advise readers that serious criticism of the story has been made and her narrative incorporates Huxley's tale as fact.Yet she knows that the celebrated triumph is imaginary.Solution?`The gossip running through the crowd afterwards quickly crafted an epic narrative, a collective fiction with an inbuilt meaning much more tangible and important than reality.All felt they were witnessing history in the making' (pp. 124f).There you have creative history: gossip frankly declared to be better than reality.Smacks of postmodernism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truth Prevails
Darwin's tightly held theories on natural selection are let loose to a resistant public but a public that was also proud of their intellectuals.Darwin's network of scientific friends and associates provide strength to a highly disruptive theory and in so advance their own scientific careers. ... Read more

20. Charles Darwin and the Beagle Adventure
by A.J. Wood, Clint Twist
Hardcover: 30 Pages (2009-08-25)
list price: US$19.99 -- used & new: US$8.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0763645389
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Discover the plants, animals, and people Darwin encountered on his groundbreaking voyage aboard the BEAGLE. Packed with novelties, including extracts from Darwin’s diary and later works, CHARLES DARWIN AND THE BEAGLE ADVENTURE takes readers on an eyeopening exploration of our globe and uncovers the path that led to the cornerstone of natural history: the theory of evolution. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars This book will enthrall you and as you wend your way through its pages you'll have the trip of a lifetime!
The HMS Beagle pulled up anchor and prepared to set sail for Brazil, but Charles Darwin's last minute invitation was almost refused because his father objected by saying, "If you can find any man of common sense who advises you to go, I will give my consent."A clergyman heading off to parts unknown to collect specimens was just a lot of rot.Fortunately, Charles's uncle gave his blessing and funded his passage.He was officially the ship's naturalist.On October 25, 1831, he was off to collect thousands of specimens that, in time, would change the way the world thought about the creation-evolutionary debate.In the meantime, Charles, the avid bug collector, would have to suffer though long periods of "severe sea sickness" on his way to change the world.

The first stop was Brazil.He invented a plankton net to capture many creatures in the ocean.He found dozens of unusual creatures on land and sea."The young naturalist encountered hundreds of different species."Along the lengthy coast of South America his survey became more systematic and Charles "began to feel like a true explorer."He gathered and recorded his finds, he went off with "wild gauchos," he became frightened of the Fuegians (including four of Fitzroy's adopted Fuegian children), he tried to catch a glimpse of the elusive rainforest predators, he was caught in serious storms, he felt the "tremors of a violent earthquake" and had many, many more amazing experiences.You'll have an adventure simply by wending your way through this book!

I was enthralled by this book.Thoughtful touches like the swirl-patterned, marbled paper end pages gave it a period antiquarian look any bibliophile will appreciate.This book is an adventure unto itself with vignettes from Darwin's diaries, a pullout map, foldouts, flaps, booklets, envelopes filled with letters and faux photographs.It is profusely illustrated and the text was very well written and fascinating.The reader will almost feel the excitement of the voyage and discovery and will anticipate, but will never know exactly what there will be with the next turn of a page.Darwin's life is briefly touched upon, but this book is primarily concerned with his voyage on the HMS Beagle and his extraordinary discoveries.Are you ready for an adventure?If so, just step right up on the forecastle and join Darwin for the trip of a lifetime! ... Read more

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