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.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (Great Discoveries) Hardcover – July 31, 2006
|New from||Used from|
All Books, All the Time
Read author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more at the Amazon Book Review. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Charles Darwin took 20 years to write his theory of natural selection: he produced On the Origin of Species only on learning that he was about to be scooped. Was he a chronic procrastinator? Or was he afraid of the reaction of his peers, who had scorned earlier books on the "transmutation" of species? A bit of both came into play, but as acclaimed science journalist Quammen (Song of the Dodo) shows, during those two decades, Darwin was busy conducting scientific research that would bolster his observations of the finches and mockingbirds of the Galápagos Islands. He raised pigeons and theorized that domestic varieties could be traced back to a species of wild dove. He floated asparagus seeds in saltwater to explain how plants moved from one continent to another. Quammen commences his portrait with Darwin's homecoming from his five-year trip on the Beagle and then focuses on how he gained enough confidence and evidence to publish a book that would displace humankind from its privileged position as a special creation. This often slyly witty book stands out among the flood of books being published for Darwin's bicentenary. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From Bookmarks Magazine
David Quammen takes up Darwin's story after the Beagle landed on English shores, a decision that allows the author to tighten his focus on the conundrum that presented itself to the famed scientist: when to let his discovery out of the bag? Though critics point out that the price of such concision is a lack of context, they agree that Quammen does an admirable job of giving information where it is needed and galloping over gaps for the story's sake. Those hoping for a more comprehensive tome on natural selection should look elsewhere (perhaps to Quammen's The Song of the Dodo or The Flight of the Iguana), but this entry in Norton's Great Discoveries series delivers an entertaining, enlightening glance at one of the world's most influential thinkers.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.
Top customer reviews
In Victorian England, these were not ideas to discuss in polite company, despite the fairly recent period of the Enlightenment - hence a 20-year procrastination before he published his terrible thoughts. Quammen rhetorically asks why Darwin had to be threatened with being scooped before he finally published. Was he afraid of offending his wife, afraid of estranging himself from pious former teachers and friends, afraid he would be thrown in jail...did he want more evidence so as to make his theory more airtight, was he too busy with other chores, and several other suggestions - and to all the suggested questions, Quammen opines, "The answers to each of these questions, I think, is yes."
All the pertinent data about the making of "Origin of the Species" is here:
1. Timeline of formation and development of the theory.
2. Marriage to his beloved Emma and how she supported his work, despite her theological opposition.
3. Portrait of his meticulous methods of observation, experimentation, thinking, and recording.
4. The Alfred Wallace bombshell and how Darwin's friends worked out a shared credit solution.
5. The writing and publishing of "Origin of the Species," the five revisions, and a brilliant chapter by chapter synopsis by Quammen.
6. The shakey reception of his book - for 50 years - and eventual vindication.
There are some books on Darwin more scholarly and longer, but you won't find one more likely to hold the attention of the general interest reader - complete with an outstanding explanation of his theory of evolution by natural selection. Hopefully high school science teachers will discover this book and add it to their student reading lists. The scientific literacy of our children (and our general population) could stand a little enhancement.
How did we get here? It's a question each thinker asks at some (or several) points along our path of growing up in the universe. Knowing how Charles Darwin answered that question makes all the difference.