Top positive review
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A must read for Darwin enthusiasts
on January 1, 2003
Don't be put off by the rather grim portrait of Darwin that adorns this edition -and be aware that there are SEVERAL editions of the AUTOBIOGRAPHY, including a somewhat "censored" one in which Darwin's wife took out bits that she didn't like -perhaps the most interesting editions are the ones that put these bits back in but italicize or bold them so that you can get a sense of what wasn't "proper" in Emma's mind. This is by no means a definitive Life of Darwin (for that I strongly encourage you to read Janet Brown's excellent 2 part series)but it does give us a gentle portrait of Darwin as he saw himself in late middle age, and it has provided lots of grist for the historians & psychohistorians in their speculations about what Darwin felt about religion, his parents, etc. For my part it only reinforces my impression of a truly wonderful man who was constantly puzzled in a pleasant way with the diversity of life & living, and while he may have had personal demons to grapple with (don't we all?) he was still able to enjoy both his science and his friends and his family. It is primarily this enjoyment that I walk away with after reading this book. Oh yes, the grim portrait on the cover. I doubt that Darwin thought of himself like that, he was FUN, and I think he mostly HAD fun, apart from the periodic bouts with illness. My favorite "portrait" of Darwin is the fantasy picture of young Chas "hanging out" in high top sneakers that adorns Phil Darlington's too-long-out-of-print EVOLUTION FOR NATURALISTS.