From Publishers Weekly
The bicentennial of Darwin's birth in 2009 and the sesquicentennial of the publication of On the Origin of Species
will be commemorated by a touring exhibition curated by author Eldredge (Life on Earth
), of the American Museum of Natural History, that will give audiences a rare opportunity to see Darwin's personal effects, notebooks and materials that contributed to Origin
. This book primarily follows Darwin's progress on his theory in the 20 years between his return from the famous voyage on the Beagle
and publication of his paradigm-shattering book. Darwin dismembered some of his notebooks, but scholars have reconstructed most of them so that readers can follow his thought processes. Eldredge shows how Darwin laid aside some ideas, like the importance of stasis (which Eldredge and the late Stephen Jay Gould developed into their concept of "punctuated equilibria"), that are now accepted in evolutionary theory. He makes the interesting observation that Darwin was one of the first scientists to abandon Baconian induction in forming hypotheses, consciously turning to the hypothetico-deductive method. Eldredge addresses advances in evolutionary theory since Darwin and takes on intelligent design. The author conveys his great admiration for his subject in a straightforward manner that will enlighten dedicated science readers. 100 illus.
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In anticipation of the bicentennial observance of Charles Darwin's birth in 1809, paleontologist and author Eldredge has organized an exhibition that coincides with the publication of this abundantly illustrated primer on Darwin's life, thought, and legacy. In effect a contemporary "Darwin's Bulldog" (the moniker of Thomas Huxley, who in the 1860s defended Darwin against creationist argument), Eldredge takes aim at so-called intelligent design in his final chapter. His approach, however, is, in the main, a positive one, demonstrating how evolution is a more convincing explanation for the exuberant variation and complexity of life than attributing the whole to a supernatural force. He is drawn particularly to two manuscripts Darwin wrote in the 1840s after his voyage on the Beagle
. Quoting them extensively, Eldredge sets forth the principles underlying evolutionary theory, discussing why it is a testable and prediction-making science, whereas creationism is not. Weaving Darwin's biography through the science, Eldredge expresses unabashed admiration for Darwin's intellect and successfully encapsulates his revolutionary ideas for the widest audience. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved