Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (Great Discoveries Series)

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (Great Discoveries Series)

by David Quammen
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"Quammen brilliantly and powerfully re-creates the 19th century naturalist's intellectual and spiritual journey."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

Twenty-one years passed between Charles Darwin's epiphany that "natural selection" formed the basis of evolution and the scientist's publication of On the Origin of Species. Why did Darwin delay, and what happened during the course of those two decades? The human drama and scientific basis of these years constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that elucidates the character of a cautious naturalist who initiated an intellectual revolution.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393329957
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 07/30/2007
Series: Great Discoveries Series
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 259,450
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 14 - 18 Years

About the Author

David Quammen is the author of The Song of the Dodo, among other books. He has been honored with the John Burroughs Medal for nature writing, an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, an award in the art of the essay from PEN, and (three times) the National Magazine Award. Quammen is also a contributing writer for National Geographic. He lives in Bozeman, Montana.

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The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (Great Discoveries Series) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
yankeesfan1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This was an assigned summer reading book for incoming freshman in the honors college at my university. It was an interesting read, but not something I would have picked up by choice. It certainly did provide me more background into Darwin. I foun the section focusing on him and Wallace's approach to publishing their theory to be quite interesting.
Sandydog1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Quammen has written one of the most personable of biographies. Through the author's extensive research, Darwin's personality is described in a well-written, easy-going style. This book was a pleasure.
eelie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
David Quammen's biography of Charles Darwin is written with an almost tender affection for the naturalist, which he portrays as a fragile, bookish sort of man. It mostly eschews discussion of Darwin's scientific works, aside from placing them in order chronologically, and instead focuses on his personal life and emotional development. He elaborates most notably on his relationships with his wife, children, and father. It is an abbreviated history of Darwin's life and does not delve too deeply into any one event, opting instead to provide a broad overview of goings on.I found it to be a quick and easy read, though Quammen's tone throughout the book made it difficult for me to feel as though I had been informed. He did not even make an effort to conceal his anti-religious bias, often, and sometimes irrationally, blaming major setbacks in Darwin's work and personal life on his association with the church. He dismisses any discussion of the extremely complex relationship Darwin had with his faith with a statement to the effect of "Darwin, at this point in his life, was still bogged down by his faith; however, signs of his liberation from the oppressive and distinctly anti-scientific motivations of the church are already beginning to show in his works..." -- and this is hardly an exaggeration. This kind of a statement is a bold one to make, especially without any discernible corroborative evidence. This kind of unapologetic bias is difficult for me to swallow, especially in something that bills itself as a non-fictionalized biography.However, that's not to say that every informative passage in the book was tinged with unreadable partiality. Quammen has an easy, humorous, and almost flippant writing style; if you can make it past his obvious bias (or if you really detest religion and enjoy bashing it self-indulgently with like-minded individuals), you may be able to glean a gem or two of actual information from it. At the very least, you won't waste too much of your time -- at a little under 300 pages and with Quammen's writing style, I had the entirety of the book read in about 4 hours.
danawl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A short account of the life of Charles after his return from voyage on the Beagle until his death. A good description of the creative process that lead to his writing of the Origin of the Species. Mr. Quammen provides a good description of Darwin's theory and of the controversies around "natural selection" and "survival of the fittest" that occured during his lifetime.
Othemts on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A readable, intimate history of Charles Darwin and his work that would change the way we view the world. This is a good short biography that gets at Darwin the man and what he hoped to achieve.¿A species wasn¿t a Platonic essence or a metaphysical type. A species was a population of differing individuals.¿ ¿ p. 108
co_coyote on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
David Quammen is a wonderful science writer. His book The Song of the Dodo is on my Top Five Science Books of All-Time list. So I would read anything he wanted to write. Even so, this little book is a gem. It picks up after Charles Darwin has returned from his famous journey on the Beagle and tells the story of what Charles Darwin's life was like when he returned. Why did he wait so long to publish his theory of Natural Selection? What was he up to? It was only when a manuscript from the self-taught Alfred Russell Wallace landed on his doorstep and "scared the bejesus out of him" that Darwin shook off the sommulent attitude and dashed off On the Origin of Species. Quammen, always the journalist, tells why that rushed volume was so much better than the book the cautious Darwin wanted to write. All in all, a good tale, well told.
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