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Darwin's Origin of Species: Books That Changed the World Paperback – February 18, 2008
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Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Lamarck and Erasmus Darwin's ideas, as well as Robert Chambers' Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation were mentioned briefly, but their differences with Charles Darwin's theory of Natural Selection wasn't fleshed out. Neither was Darwin's development of his central arguments tackled in any appreciable degree. Browne mentioned Darwin's reliance on Malthus, but again, it was only discussed in brief.
I cannot recommend Browne's book except to those who are just beginning their study of Darwin. Instead, I recommend Nildes Eldredge's Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life. It also tackles the development of Darwin's book, but with more detail.
This is one out of a series of short books entitled "Books That Changed the World." It is yet another example of the recent trend toward concise volumes (this one runs 174 pages including index) that, despite their brevity, cram in a tremendous amount of useful information. After a brief introduction, the first two chapters are mini-biographies of Darwin prior to publication of the "Origin." As always, Browne is interested on the books and ideas (Lyell, Malthus, etc.) that shaped Darwin's own perspective. Since Browne knows more about Darwin than anyone else, these brief chapters are rich indeed in insight and perception--small gems. Next, Browne moves on to the actual publication of the "Origin" and the Victorian intellectual framework into which it was released. The controversy the book unleashed is covered in the next chapter, perhaps the longest and surely the most concentrated in the book. If anything, too much information is included here, especially for readers new to Darwin and Victorian science, and it is covered rather quickly.Read more ›
By Janet Browne
As the foremost historian on scientist and evolutionary thinker Charles Darwin, Janet Browne successfully writes an accessible and vivid "biography", or account of the past and continued development of the man's most influential work On the Origin of Species, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, first published in 1859. Her book adequately fits the niche of a "popular science" type novel, great for an introduction to the topic or overview of general ideas,.
In this straight-forward, elegantly written historical biography, Browne documents not only the history of Origin, but of Darwin as well. Structurally, the book is divided into five sections, beginning with Darwin's childhood, then a discussion of the influential ideas, then the publication, then the controversy surrounding the publication, and most uniquely, a section on the legacy of the scientific treatise. Throughout these sections, Browne does a fine job balancing the narrative of Darwin, such as the anecdote involving chemistry labs and his brother, Erasmus, with an explanation of the scientific ideas, such as the explanation of Lyell, and then Darwin's gradualism.
What is most noticeable and influential in the environment that Janet Browne paints Darwin growing up is the Victorian society, in which "apes or angels, Darwin or the Bible" and revolution were the questions of the day, and other great thinkers (the work of his contemporaries and predecessors significantly influence his thinking, often making it difficult to understand why Darwin was unique and not just an extension of previous thoughts), such as Lyell and Marx.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
"Origin of Species" met my expectations by explaining Darwin's theories and by providing an overview of his life in a brief format.Published 15 days ago by Keith Mino
This is one of the most famous books ever written. Every educated person should have some familiarity with it. I'm glad to be able to add it to my library. Read morePublished 26 days ago by Amazon Customer
It's funny to read the comments of those who were disappointed in this book. Some (clearly those with more books on Darwin and science under their belts that I) found it too... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Allen Smith
In five chapters Janet Browne has given us an intellectual biography of Charles Darwin. We are not subjected to his carousing-although it is mentioned, nor are we inundated by his... Read morePublished 5 months ago by oldavai
I had to read it for school. The information is good if you need to know the historical/social context of Darwin's publication of the Origin of Species. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Shawna Rodgers
Interesting view of Darwin's life and times as well as some of his interactions with colleagures,and reaction to Origin of Species and Descent of Man is presented in a logical and... Read morePublished on December 8, 2013 by Ashland VA Reader
The below is a review of the unabridged CD audiobook
This book is a blend of biography, history of the times in relationship to evolutionary theory and its competing... Read more
Very high-level overview of Darwin's life, with The Book as the centerpiece. I've read the "Origin," and I've read my Stephen Jay Gould, so there wasn't anything here I didn't know... Read morePublished on April 21, 2011 by Caleb Hanson
In the second sentence of the first page, the author writes that Darwin was born in April, 1809. In fact, he was born two months earlier, on February 12. Read morePublished on March 12, 2011 by S. Clemens