Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Qty:1
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Temporarily out of stock.
Order now and we'll deliver when available.
Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item.
Details
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Darwin: Portrait of a Gen... has been added to your Cart
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 3 images

Darwin: Portrait of a Genius Hardcover – October 11, 2012

3.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

See all 7 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$25.95
$1.89 $0.01
Audio CD, Audiobook
"Please retry"
$45.00

Hitler's Forgotten Children: A True Story of the Lebensborn Program and One Woman's Search for Her Real Identity by Ingrid von Oelhafen
"Hitler's Forgotten Children" by Ingrid von Oelhafen
The Lebensborn program abducted as many as half a million children from across Europe. Through a process called Germanization, they were to become the next generation of the Aryan master race in the second phase of the Final Solution. Hitler's Forgotten Children is both a harrowing personal memoir and a devastating investigation into the awful crimes and monstrous scope of the Lebensborn program. Learn more | See related books
$25.95 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Temporarily out of stock. Order now and we'll deliver when available. We'll e-mail you with an estimated delivery date as soon as we have more information. Your account will only be charged when we ship the item. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • Darwin: Portrait of a Genius
  • +
  • Mozart: A Life
Total price: $47.92
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Always provocative, historian Johnson critiques Charles Darwin, whose insight into evolution by natural selection he acknowledges but whose intellectual weaknesses he scores as hindrances to Darwin’s achieving more in science. Johnson writes that Darwin was a procrastinator, poor at math, and ignorant of foreign languages. The charges asserted, Johnson raises them at particular points in his narrative of Darwin’s life. Darwin’s habit of delaying publishing to conduct overly meticulous research, for example, nearly defeated his claim to fame. On the Origin of Species was panicked into print by Darwin’s fear of preemption by Alfred Russel Wallace. By Darwin’s subsequent publications Johnson is but mildly impressed, partly because some do not hold up well (The Descent of Man) and partly because Darwin pursued tangents at the expense of theorizing a mechanism of heredity, as Gregor Mendel did. This was Darwin’s missed opportunity, which delayed the genetics revolution and opened conceptual space for the pernicious doctrines of social Darwinism––so runs Johnson’s argument. Characteristically pithy and incisive, the ever-popular Johnson offers a Darwin who will be much in demand. --Gilbert Taylor

Review

“Riveting . . . The `genius’ of Paul Johnson’s biography of Charles Darwin is manifestly, impressively apparent [in his discussion of] 'On the Origin of Species.’”
—Wall Street Journal

 

“Excellent and courageous.”
Michael Flannery, author of Alfred Russel Wallace


 

“This little sketch reminds us why Darwin’s theory of natural selection endures and continues to provoke controversy.”
Publishers Weekly

 

“This is a first-rate biography, one that brings Darwin and his ideas into brilliant focus.”                         
History Book Club
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; 1st edition (October 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025712
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025718
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #680,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Beginning with Modern Times (1985), Paul Johnson's books are acknowledged masterpieces of historical analysis. He is a regular columnist for Forbes and The Spectator, and his work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and many other publications.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have not read any of Paul Johnson's other books and I was a bit puzzled when I noticed that this author of a book on Darwin had also written one called "Jesus: A Biography From a Believer". By the time I finished this book, it was obvious that Mr. Johnson has reached some conclusions regarding Darwin's relevance which are quite different from my own. However, although the author's slant seems to have drawn a great deal of negative criticism from other reviewers, it did not interfere with my enjoyment of his book. I found his 'portrait' to be a concise and interesting biographical introduction, and one which will inspire me to seek out more information. I can draw my own conclusions from the facts that were presented, thank you.
Comment 12 of 13 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
I only knew Paul Johnson from his insightful commentaries in Forbes where the 85 year old historian shows us that today's leaders don't always meet the standards of their predecessors. I did not know what to expect in a biography but the elder statesman gets it absolutely right here with Darwin. No dry recitation of facts and dates but insightful analysis of Darwin's times, the full impact of his work in both social and scientific circles, and some glaring oversights and omissions by the great man. I think this is the most riveting account of a 19th century scientist that one could find.

Darwin may have been the world's first full-time scientist. Born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln, Darwin knew only wealth and comfort from his good fortune with family lines into lucrative pottery and medicine. He was well-educated, well-travelled, and well-married. As a young man, he was deemed the best choice for a vast scientific adventure, due as much to his family and up-bringing as scientific knowledge. He did make the most of the experience, hoarding away millions of samples and learning the sharp-elbowed approach to beating scientific rivals to the lecture circuit.

We hear from Johnson on Darwin's many weaknesses. Perhaps the most egregious one was his ineptitude and lack of interest in mathematics which kept him from moving his nascent theory forward. This was left to others, especially Mendel who it appears never crossed paths with Darwin although they were contemporaries. We also learn about Darwin's lack of confidence, limited work hours, unwillingness to spend his available funds on supplemental research, and difficult relationships with some peers and competitors.

Where this book really shines is when Johnson puts the Darwin story into the bigger picture.
Read more ›
Comment 7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
This biography is a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the book so much that I gave my copy to my eldest brother, who loves Darwin, and sent a copy to a friend. Thereafter I happened to read some of the reviews on Amazon, and was surprised to see a few critical ones, so much so that I wondered whether we had read the same book. So I bought another copy and have now re-read it. Paul Johnson brings Darwin and his ideas to life, and is profuse in his praise for Darwin and most of what he wrote. However, he includes how Darwin overstated some things and made some mistakes, and how some, including Hitler, have misused his ideas. It is apparently this latter quality to the book, which has the virtues of being (1) true, (2) interesting, and (3) quite within the bounds of legitimate biography, which has caused some to object, lest their man be subject to criticism. I say let the chips fall where they may. All scientific endeavors should be subject to the constant and never-ending pursuit of truth. This book is a gem and anyone wanting a superb introduction to Darwin, his life, and his ideas should be well pleased with it, as I was.

Johnson notes that Darwin was a "machine for accumulating countless facts." For a 20th century parallel, interested readers might enjoy "A Congenial Fellowship: A Botanical Correspondence Between Charles C. Deam and Floyd A. Swink 1946-1951." It is the incredibly detailed and technical correspondence of two botanists in search of botanical truth. I should note that I knew Mr. Swink.
Comment 6 of 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Paul Johnson's crie du coeur agaist the nearly blind adulation of Charles cultus rankles them, even those who admit they have not read the brief addition to the Johnson extensive corpus. Yes, Darwin was brilliant, but not infallible, weak in many branches of what is now just called 'science.' Good counter-balance to the worshipers of their guru, he was the first to admit that he was an unoriginal amateur in mathematics and an unacknowleding their of the more profound work of his contemporaries and predecessors.

Unfortunately, Johnson does use a lot of 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' logic, that Darwin had caused all the atheist excesses of evil of the past 2 centuries, yet only the blind do not admit at least a remote connection. Darwin was more of an agnostic because of personal losses rather than a reasonable rejection of Christian doctrine.

well worth a few hours of your reading time.
1 Comment 27 of 35 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Starts by explaining the effect of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin. Erasmus held and published many of the ideas Charles later used. Relates how the attempted attack on Joseph Priestley, a family friend, for his beliefs intimidated Darwin for the remainder of his life. The mob cried out, 'No philosophers - church and king forever!'

Johnson explains that Charles Lyell the geologist had just published a book showing that the earth must be millions of years old. For persons who believed incorrectly that the Bible teaches the earth is only six thousand years old, this evidence destroyed the faith of many. Johnson notes on page 31 this information was more significant in producing disbelief than anything Darwin wrote.

After returning from the Beagle, he read Malthus. This 'had a huge emotional impact'. Malthus law that population always outstrips food,(arithmetical vs geometrical), struck Darwin as the truth, (we now know Malthus was wrong). This erroneous idea was fundamental to Darwin's future writing.

On page 72 Johnson says that Tennyson in his poem, In Memoriam of 1851, 'glorified and almost sanctified evolution'. This is before Darwin's book. The idea of evolution was already accepted by many.

Page 83 "Origin, then, was a cleverly written, superbly presented, and even a cunningly judged book, and quite apart from its veracity deserved to have an enormous impact and sell widely. But it was, and is, open to one objection. This springs from the original excitement and emotion in which Darwin conceived his theory of natural selection. . . His emotions convinced him that the horror scenario was the way nature operated, and he imparted this feeling to his book. The result, in the long term was to have malign even catastrophic consequences.
Read more ›
2 Comments 4 of 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews