Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist

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9780393311501: Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist
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"Unquestionably the finest [biography] ever written about Darwin. . . . Darwin has now become, and properly, the quintessentially socially embedded scientist. Desmond and Moore are brilliant in their pursuit of this truly unifying theme."―Stephen Jay Gould

Hailed as the definitive biography, this monumental work explains the character and paradoxes of Charles Darwin and opens up the full panorama of Victorian science, theology, and mores. The authors bring to life Darwin's reckless student days in Cambridge, his epic five-year voyage on the Beagle, and his grueling struggle to develop his theory of evolution.

Adrian Desmond and James Moore's gripping narrative reveals the great personal cost to Darwin of pursuing inflammatory truths―telling the whole story of how he came to his epoch-making conclusions.

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About the Author:

Adrian Desmond is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Biology Department at University College London. He has written numerous books on evolution and Victorian science.

James Moore is a reader in history of science and technology at the Open University.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A sweeping biography in which Desmond (The Ape's Reflexion, 1979, etc.) and Moore (The Post-Darwinian Controversies--not reviewed) illustrate not only the familiar Darwinian thesis that life evolves--that it depends on an interplay of nature and culture and of inherited and acquired traits--but also the contemporary thesis that all science is in some way autobiographical. On a personal level, the authors say, Darwin developed from a pleasure-loving descendant of doctors and industrialists into an adventurer who undertook a five-year voyage around the world, and then into a recluse, a mad scientist racked by a mysterious illness, possibly psychogenic in origin, ruefully observing in his ten children the weaknesses he believed they had inherited by his marrying his first cousin. Professionally, Darwin was an observer and collector, interested in geology and zoology, famous in his own day for his tireless study of barnacles, worm castings, and pigeons, reluctant to theorize or to affirm the principles of evolution that had been evident to his grandfather Erasmus and were confirmed by most of the scientific community. Placing Darwin in context, Desmond and Moore demonstrate how social and political forces (the role of Malthus, the political radicals associated with the Westminster Review) contributed to his reading of nature. They also show Darwin participating in the professionalization of science, which developed from a collection of pious, wealthy gentlemen amateurs into various specialized and secularized disciplines with their own hierarchies and competition. Longer and more wide-ranging than John Bowlby's Charles Darwin (1991), this neglects Darwin's major strength: his own powerful, vivid, and imaginative prose. While valuable for the insights it offers on the age, it is not a substitute for Darwin's own autobiography and journals. (Fifty-six pages of photographs and drawings--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780446515894: Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist

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ISBN 10: 0446515892 ISBN 13: 9780446515894
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9780140131925: Darwin

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