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Alfred Russel Wallace: A Rediscovered Life Paperback – March 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 150 pages
  • Publisher: Discovery Institute Press; 1st Edition edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979014190
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979014192
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #689,316 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael A. Flannery is Professor and Associate Director for Historical Collections at the Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences, University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). Prof. Flannery has published extensively in medical history and bioethics, winning the prestigious Edward Kremers Award in 2001 for distinguished writing by an American from the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy and the 2006 Publications Award of the Archivists and Librarians in the History of the Health Sciences.

Customer Reviews

He was also a good writer.
Dave C
If you are looking for an unbiased work on Wallace's role in the development of the theory of evolution, this probably isn't the book you are looking for.
B. Leslie
The author is at pains to demonstrate his knowledge of Wallace but his interpretation is deeply flawed for reasons which don't seem instantly apparent.
George Hegel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Erasmus on January 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
Fascinating, short biography of the co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace. It turns out that Wallace--unlike his colleague Charles Darwin--believed in intelligent design. He started out by observing the features of human beings that didn't seem producible by unguided natural selection. But by the end of his life, he was finding detectable design throughout the universe and biological life, including in butterflies, bird's wings, the cell, and the origin of the first life. For those who are open to new ideas--and challenging long cherished assumptions--this book will be a rewarding read. No doubt die-hard Darwinists will dislike the shattering of some of their stereotypes about the history of science.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dave C on March 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
Alfred Russell Wallace: A Rediscovered Life is well worth your time on several levels. First, it is short: just 152 pages including appendices. Second, it tells an interesting story of a real life adventurer, who endured shipwreck and disease to bring thousands of specimens from two continents to the attention of science. Third, it "rediscovers" a life message that has been largely distorted by evolutionists seeking to ensure the historical primacy of Charles Darwin.

The revisionist narrative typically disparages Wallace as a lesser mind, a wayward child dabbling in pseudoscientific issues. I was pleased to find that the narrative is slanderous when Wallace's activities are seen in context. Most important, Wallace gave scholarly, well-thought-out positions against unguided natural selection, and argued forcefully for design at key points in the history of life: the origin of life, the origin of consciousness, and the origin of man. This is important coming from a lead character of the Darwinian revolution. Wallace was personally acquainted with the co-conspirators, yet remained undaunted in his independent views that, while evolutionary, are closer to today's intelligent design movement than to modern theistic evolution.

The book is enriched with potent excerpts from Wallace's own writings. While appreciative of Darwin as friend, Wallace was surprisingly anti-Darwinian in ideology. He was also a good writer. More people need to realize that for decades after Darwin's death the co-"discoverer" of natural selection gave design arguments with a mature mind, informed from much more field work than Darwin's, aware of the pressure from the Darwin party pushing science toward philosophical and methodological naturalism. Oh, the irony!
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By L. Bencze on March 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
Proponents of evolution tend to dismiss Wallace as a clever fellow who stumbled upon evolution by natural selection at about the same time as Darwin but lost his way when he entered the thickets of Spiritualism (seances and such). Proponents of Intelligent Design are more likely to regard Wallace as a founding father of the ID movement. Mr. Flannery dedicates his book to showing exactly how and why both camps are wrong.

Though there is considerable biographical information in the book, it is not really a biography per se. Rather it centers upon the philosophical underpinnings of the theory for which Darwin is given full credit in our time. (In the 19th century it was commonly referred to as "the Darwin/Wallace theory of evolution.")

This book is also a corrective to the notion that Wallace was a dabbler. No, he was a skillful and dedicated naturalist as immersed in the fauna of the Indonesian archipelago as Darwin was immersed in his study of barnacles or domesticated animals. During his eight years in the Malay Archipelago he collected and catalogued a staggering "300 specimens of mammals, 100 reptiles, 8050 birds, 7500 shells, 13100 butterflies, 83200 beetles, and 13400 other insects." (p. 52) That's certainly not the work of a diletante! (Lest he be smeared a mere "stamp collector" it is wise to recall that Darwin himself was known as an avid collector of beetles during his college years and that he also amassed the largest known 19th century collection of barnacles during his writing of Living Cirripedia, 1854.)

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andy Boerger on March 6, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is actually a book about two men, so don't be fooled by the title. One gets the impression while reading that the author is less interested in telling the story of one great scientist (Wallace) than he is about slamming another (Darwin). Reading this book, I was reminded of the long running comic for children, 'Goofus and Gallant' which contrasts the exemplary behavior of a very good boy with the naughty behavior of a very bad one. Seriously, this book often reads exactly like that. I award the book three stars because I think the author actually makes a pretty good case, most of the time.
He writes that Wallace was more egalitarian than Darwin, and had much more enlightened views about the tribal peoples of the lands he explored (the Amazon, the Malay Peninsula and present day Indonesia) than Darwin. This is obviously true. He uses passages from both writers that establish this as fact. Darwin, and any Google search can verify this, held racist views. Wallace testified that the same people that Darwin compared to 'lower animals' and referred to as 'barbarians' displayed all the higher qualities of 'civilized' man.
But the author goes too far out of his way to imprint his Goofus and Gallant strategy upon the reader. He portrays Darwin as
- dishonest; "in short, Darwin the tireless, unbiased investigator patiently following accumulating pieces of data wherever they may lead is a fiction largely perpetrated by Darwin himself",
- as cunning and vindictive; "Darwin was not one to directly engage his enemies. Rather, he sent his loyal captains to do his bidding"
And so on it goes. Often the style is lifted right out of the comic strip. One paragraph extols Wallace for being more humanistic, a more dedicated researcher, more honest, more forgiving, etc, etc.
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