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The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles Darwin's Journal of Researches (Penguin Classics) Abridged Edition

136 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140432688
ISBN-10: 014043268X
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About the Author

Charles Darwin, a Victorian scientist and naturalist, has become one of the most famous figures of science to date. Born in 1809 to an upper-middle-class medical family, he was destined for a career in either medicine or the Anglican Church. However, he never completed his medical education and his future changed entirely in 1831 when he joined HMS Beagle as a self-financing, independent naturalist. On returning to England in 1836 he began to write up his theories and observations which culminated in a series of books, most famously On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection in 1859, where he challenged and contradicted contemporary biological and religious beliefs with two decades worth of scientific investigation and theory. Darwin's theory of natural selection is now the most widely accepted scientific model of how species evolve. He died in 1882 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Damien Hirst is an internationally renowned English artist, who has dominated the art scene in England since the 1990s. Known in particular for his series of works on death, Hirst here provides a contemporary, visual take on Darwin's theory of evolution - the struggle between life and death in nature.

William Bynum is Professor Emeritus of the History of Medicine at University College, London, and was for many years Head of the Academic Unit of the Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. He edited the scholarly journal Medical History from 1980 to 2001, and his previous publications include Science and the Practice of Medicine in the Nineteenth Century; The Companion Encyclopedia of the History of Medicine (co-edited with Roy Porter); The Oxford Dictionary of Scientific Quotations (with Roy Porter), The Dictionary of Medical Biography (with Helen Bynum), and History of Medicine: A Very Short Introduction. He lives in Suffolk.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

GALAPAGOS ARCHIPELAGO

The natural history of this archipelago is very remarkable: it seems to be a little world within itself; the greater number of its inhabitants, both vegetable and animal, being found nowhere else. As I shall refer to this subject again, I will only here remark, as forming a striking character on first landing, that the birds are strangers to man. So tame and unsuspecting were they, that they did not even understand what was meant by stones being thrown at them; and quite regardless of us, they approached so close that any number of them might have been killed with a stick.

The Beagle sailed round Chatham Island, and anchored in several bays. One night I slept on shore, on a part of the island where some black cones – the former chimneys of the subterranean heated fluids – were extraordinarily numerous. From one small eminence, I counted sixty of these truncated hillocks, which were all surmounted by a more or less perfect crater. The greater number consisted merely of a ring of red scoriae, or slags, cemented together: and their height above the plain of lave, was not more than from 50 to 100 feet. From their regular form, they gave the country a workshop appearance, which strongly reminded me of those parts of Stratfordshire where the great iron foundries are most numerous.

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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Abridged edition (November 7, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014043268X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432688
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (136 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

176 of 184 people found the following review helpful By Joseph W. Trigg on December 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I bought this version when I could not find my old copy. On trying to find a favorite passage (Darwin's revulsion at a parasitic wasp in Brazil and the inconsistency of such cruelty with any providential design of nature by a good God), I noticed that it was not there. I do not know what else is missing. I find it infuriating that this was not adequately noted on the cover of the book. I always prefer books as the author wrote them, especially when the author is Darwin. This is a lively, beautiful and haunting work that I first read when I was thirteen and have read twice since. Readers deserve the whole thing.
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77 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on September 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
We all know Charles Darwin as a scholarly bearded old English gentleman, and like Leonardo da Vinci, Darwin has this image defining him for all future generations. Even though most everyone knows Darwin spent five years traveling the oceans on the HMS Beagle, the image of a young dynamic Darwin never takes over. Reading this book will change this.

Darwin sailed on the Beagle, a small three-mast sailing ship, and circumnavigated the globe. Over five years, he visited numerous islands in the Atlantic and Pacific and extensively surveyed the east and west coasts of South America. He hiked up and down mountains, traveled on horseback across the arid Argentinean plains, crossed the lonely Peruvian desert, and trekked the grandiose Chilean Cordilleras. He thought nothing of packing a train of mules for a two-month overland journey across the Andes going from Chile to Argentina and back again. On all his land expeditions he hired local guides, from Gauchos in Argentina to South Pacific islanders in Tahiti. Darwin's accounts of his expeditions are not only interesting adventures, they are also good portraits of the people he met. These include Latin American governors and generals, Argentinean ranchers, very primitive natives on Tierra del Fuego, and so on.

The journal begins with an account of Cape de Verd islands, then most of the book is spent on Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, and we have to wait until Chapter 17 before we get to what all Darwin fans really want to read, namely the account of his visit to the Galapagos. Though short, the account does not disappoint. We read of Darwin's finches, of two allied species of lizards, and of the giant turtles. Darwin also presents his great insight: that geographical isolation contributes to speciation.
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39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Vincent Poirier on September 27, 2004
Format: Paperback
We all know Charles Darwin as a scholarly bearded old English gentleman, and like Leonardo da Vinci, Darwin has this image defining him for all future generations. Even though most everyone knows Darwin spent five years traveling the oceans on the HMS Beagle, the image of a young dynamic Darwin never takes over. Reading this book will change this.

Darwin sailed on the Beagle, a small three-mast sailing ship, and circumnavigated the globe. Over five years, he visited numerous islands in the Atlantic and Pacific and extensively surveyed the east and west coasts of South America. He hiked up and down mountains, traveled on horseback across the arid Argentinean plains, crossed the lonely Peruvian desert, and trekked the grandiose Chilean Cordilleras. He thought nothing of packing a train of mules for a two-month overland journey across the Andes going from Chile to Argentina and back again. On all his land expeditions he hired local guides, from Gauchos in Argentina to South Pacific islanders in Tahiti. Darwin's accounts of his expeditions are not only interesting adventures, they are also good portraits of the people he met. These include Latin American governors and generals, Argentinean ranchers, very primitive natives on Tierra del Fuego, and so on.

The journal begins with an account of Cape de Verd islands, then most of the book is spent on Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, and we have to wait until Chapter 17 before we get to what all Darwin fans really want to read, namely the account of his visit to the Galapagos. Though short, the account does not disappoint. We read of Darwin's finches, of two allied species of lizards, and of the giant turtles. Darwin also presents his great insight: that geographical isolation contributes to speciation.
Read more ›
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71 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Timothy J. Cliffe on December 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
The 1 star is for Penguin, because the cover does not warn you that the content has been sharply abridged. Darwin's thinking and writing are wonderful -- but grossly and unfairly cut to ribbons.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely interesting book; well worth reading. However I would not recommend getting the edition published by Wordsworth (ISBN 185364768). It was not proof-read very carefully, and contains a lot of typographical errors.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 12, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This free Kindle edition stinks-- no pictures. Darwin refers to the illustrations in the text, but they are not there. Get the Kindle Version With Images from Gutenberg.org instead, which otherwise is the same text, right down to the page numbers which are included just as text on their own line (and that's where footnotes are included too.)
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Greg B. Shoom on August 23, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
From 1831 to 1836 Charles Darwin, then a young man in his twenties, was the official naturalist on the Royal Navy ship HMS Beagle. The Beagle spent five years completing a survey of the coasts of South America and making a series of longitude measurements around the world. This proved to be one of the most important scientific voyages of the 19th century, for it was on this voyage that Darwin made the observations that lead, twenty years later, to his formulating the theory of evolution by means of natural selection. This book is Darwin's account of his observations on this voyage. Darwin was a master of detailed observation, and he describes the things he observed -- the plants, animals, geology, and people -- in loving detail. His accounts are always lively and full of interest. Darwin was also a master of inductive reasoning, and there are several superb examples of this in this book. Perhaps the finest is Darwin's induction of the cause of the formation of the coral atolls that dot the South Pacific and the Indian Ocean (his theory was proved correct in the 20th century). Indeed, much of the value of this book for the modern reader lies in the many examples it contains of scientific, inductive thought; a powerful method of reasoning that is as neglected today as it was in Darwin's time.
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