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37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Irving Stone is no stranger to the art of lively historical biography. Indeed, he has made it his own particular area of expertise and developed his craft to a thoroughly respectable level. Coming to Darwin after Van Gogh, I knew I was going to be in safe hands. What I didn't know was how Darwin himself was going to affect me. Stone has us walking in his shoes. The very paths he trod, be it the lyme walks along the river near his birthplace or the lava-fields of Peru, are our paths. Such is the skill of the author. I cannot understand why this is not a popular book. It has just about everything going for it: a famous author with a competent pen; an even more famous naturalist as its centrepiece. Can it be that poor old Charles is out of fashion? I hope that these few crumbs may incite a further readership. You will not be disappointed.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I first read this one in the early 80s. I picked if off my shelf again, a few days ago, and enjoyed it all over again. Being a student of the life of Charles Darwin, I have read the majority of the major biographies over the past twenty years. While this work is a fictionalized version of Darwin's life, and is certainly overly simplistic at times, there, nevertheless, is no doubt the author did his homework on this one. For a good simple read, and an understanding of the man Darwin (not his work), I highly recommend this one. Mr. Stone is certainly a master of his craft.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on February 16, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Irving Stone gives us a beautiful depiction of the character of the real Charles Darwin, and how he came to his breakthrough scientific insights. Charles Darwin, it turns out, was an immensely likeable character, with an adventuresome spirit, immense energy, a genuine humility, and warm sense of humor. Stone's brilliant portrayal shows us how Darwin was always guided by really examining what he saw and experienced, and letting his questions guide him, through a lifetime of earnest questing for knowledge and understanding. Anyone who doubts that such a devoted scientist could also make such a fascinating literary figure, will be delighted by Irving Stone's illuminating storytelling. Now, we can esteem Darwin all the more for his humaneness, which serves to magnify his genius!
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Once again, writer Irving Stone provides his readers with a "biographical novel", like his masterpiece, "The agony and the ecstasy" (about Michelangelo). Stone is a very competent author, and takes time to do his researches, so the information you'll find in his books can be trusted to be true - he also provides a bibliography about his "subject" at the end of the story.

"The origin" is about Charles Darwin, the man who came up with the theory of the evolution of the species by natural selection. In fact, Darwin, living in a static, very religious society, was one of the first scientists to dissociate science from religion, even if at the time it was not his intention, and had many problems because of his theories. Darwin's life was very interesting, from his humble beginning as an observer aboard HMS Beagle to his late and prolific years, when he wrote about varied subjects, becoming one of the first "scientific bestsellers" in the world.

Darwin's life is very well depicted in "The origin", and the reading is not a hard one, even if it's kind of slow. But Stone only presents facts, and makes little effort to present his thoughts about the subject. This is not an insightful kind of biography, more like Darwin's diary written in a more pleasant way. Nevertheless, an excellent book, that provides very useful information about one of the greatest men of all times.

Grade 8.6/10
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2009
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Not only was this a long book, it was an intense book requiring a ton of concentration. However, it was well worth the effort. Irving Stone brilliantly detailed the life of Charles Darwin and it was completely fascinating. Darwin's The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Editionis 150 years old (give or take) and becoming immersed in the world of the 1830's - 1880's reminds you how much the world has changed.

In the 1830's these people were just learning about dinosaurs, and science wasn't even an accepted practice really and if they wanted to travel it was via long sea voyages. They didn't even have typewriters. Compared to what we know today and the technology we have today and the way we travel, you really have to admire these men like Darwin and his compatriots (one of them being Aldous Huxley's grandfather) for what they endured in the name of discovery.

It took extreme courage and conviction for Darwin to publish what he did in that time. To take on creation and thus the church.

What's most interesting (and my really long way of getting here) is that in spite of the vast differences in the world today and the world of Darwin's day, people remain polarized on the issue of creation. Very little on that has changed and when you put that in perspective, it sort of boggles the mind.

This book is out of print, but I highly recommend it. You can get it used from Amazon. Incidentally, I'm not a science person at all ... so this was a real departure for me, and I enjoyed it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 23, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A novel-biography in Stone's usual style, I found this a eminently readable and gripping account. It was particularly pleasing to see Charles Darwin's life treated "organically" - too many accounts treat his Beagle years and the following decade or two as merely preparatory for the "Origin of the Species", and events that became important only in 1859 are emphasised at the expense of others (see his Wikipedia article for a prime example - you'd think he made no geological observations in South America at all, yet geology was his main motivation at the time.) But people's lives are lived without hindsight - Darwin is no exception - and Stone recognizes this. The evolution of Charles Darwin from a mildly indolent undergraduate to wide-eyed field geologist to desk-bound author to experimental horticulturalist to world-famous naturalist is done with admirable skill. The portraits of his friends Charles Lyell and Joseph Hooker - extremely famous in their own rights - amongst others, are also very well done.

A criticism levelled on Amazon, that too many speech bubbles read like extracts from letters and writings, is warranted. But that's because they *are* quotes! Novel-biographers get pilloried for making too much dialogue up, so why not quote when they can? If it sounds stilted, just read past it - enjoy the fact that the words are at least genuine!

An excellent lightweight introduction to the life of one of science's luminaries.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 20, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book about thirty years ago. I recall reading it avidly, and as I had not really known too much about Charles Darwin, I was fascinated to learn about his relationship to the Wedgwood family, and the incredible thirst for knowledge those men of that age displayed. Irving Stone writes in a compelling style, and made Darwin and his contemporaries very real. His descriptive language and his accuracy to detail mean that while you are not churning through any dry historical account of the subject, you come away with a very real knowledge of the topic while at the same time enjoying a darned good read. I have loaned this book to many others over the years who have also commented on their pleasure in reading it. I have as a result read a number of Irving Stone's other biographical novels and have loved them too, but have to say this is a favourite. After having more recently had somewhat of a revival in my interest in Darwin through recent movies and TV series about him, I read the book again, and loved it just as much.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2014
Format: Paperback
I've purchased hundreds of books on Amazon, but I'm ashamed to say that I don't write reviews. I just don't make the time.
But I needed to write one for my all time favorite book. YES, you read that right.

I read about a dozen books a month, mostly non fiction. This one is at the top becuase it is hIstorically accurate AND such a compelling read. Stone is incredable. He gives you wonderful insight into one of the greatest scientists of all time. Darwin never meant to upset the religious view of life on this planet. In fact, he was destined to be a minister. But that all changed after he spent 5 years collecting specimens throughout the world... then, 20 years analyzing them. That's how he came up with his theory.

By the way, in science a theory is VERY DIFFERENT than the way we use the term in ordinary, everyday language. Most us use the term "theory" to mean we have an idea or thought about something. ("I have a theory about why the toast keeps getting burned"). But in science, a theory is only proposed (and eventually accepted) when there is an ENORMOUS amount of data collected and analyzed. Science proposes a theory to explain the data. That's why there is a "theory of evolution", but no credable "theory of creationism".

I gave this book 5 stars because it makes the above point so clear, in such a compelling manner. ENJOY!!!
Dave
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
"There is a tide in the affairs of men," is a quote from Shakespeare which is appropriate for the discovery of the mechanism of how living things evolve and change. It was due to be discovered at that time, however, the real story is the circumstances which brought young Charles on board the surveying ship, Beagle. His introduction to Robert FitzRoy, a rising star in the British Admiralty is significant. Otherwise the entire voyage would have been much quicker and Darwin would not have been able to spend so much time ashore. The entire story is factual and true.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on January 28, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
If anyone want a light but concise introduction to Darwin and the Origin of the Species - a book that keeps you interested and fascinated then you will enjoy this book.
I read it years ago and lost my copy during a house move but finally found this copy again and just could not wait to read it. It was as good now as it was then and I would recommend it to anyone.
The research by Irving Stone in extensive and he has brought it all together in this rare book.
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