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The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution

de David Quammen

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6852532,958 (4.06)33
In September 1838, a young Englishman named Charles Darwin hit upon the idea that "natural selection" among competing individuals would lead to wondrous adaptations and species diversity. Twenty-one years passed between that epiphany and publication of On the Origin of Species. The human drama and scientific basis of that time constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that illuminates this cautious naturalist who sparked an intellectual revolution. Drawing from Darwin's secret notebooks and personal letters, David Quammen has sketched a vivid life portrait of the man whose work remains controversial today.… (més)
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» Mira també 33 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 25 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Such a subtle and nuanced look into the mind of this hugely influential man ( )
  drdolma | Feb 3, 2024 |
The story of Charles Darwin and his wondrous, scary idea -the idea of "natural selection" as the main mechanism of evolution- is one of the most exciting in the history o science. Yet twenty-one years passed between Darwin's conception of this idea and his publication of The Origin of Species. In The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, David Quammen draws on Darwin's secret "transmutation" notebooks and private letter to create a meticulous, humane portrait of the man, and a lucid explication of his work, that captures both the personal foibles and the scientific substance.
  Daniel464 | Sep 19, 2021 |
On a topic that sounds like it will be dry as dust, author David Quammen delivers an engrossing tale of an all-too human Darwin and the circumstances--both personal and professional--that stretched over the many years between his initial inklings of his great theory and its eventual publication in The Origin of Species. In addition to this main story, we get the history of philosophies and scientific thought on what would eventually be labeled "evolution" and "natural selection." I was particularly fascinated by this history and its relationship to ideas being promulgated today as "Intelligent Design" and "creationism". ( )
  WildMaggie | Jul 5, 2019 |
Muscular and amusing prose surround thorough, subtle research. Worth it for the chapter-by-chapter Origin. ( )
  Eoin | Jun 3, 2019 |
"[...]nobody's perfect. Charles Darwin certainly wasn't. He had an appendix, he had nipples, none of which served any useful purpose, and he occasionally made mistakes, even in The Origin of Species."

It is really hard for me to find nonfiction books that I end up liking. They are always either too dry or too lacking in substance and pandering to a current popular interest. However, this book is pretty great. It brings Darwin out in the open as a full human being and reveals the decades of work, dedication to precision, and objectiveness that went into the germ of evolutionary theory.

Darwin didn't set out on the Beagle to start a revolution in science that led to its complete divergence from religion. He was just a lad from a wealthy family on a natural history expedition. But the carcasses and their locations couldn't lie. With some of the eventual evidence collected, he formed a hypothesis and worked on perfecting it for decades before publishing. Only the danger of having his idea owned by someone else first led him to stop hoarding and digesting evidence and get down to the writing. During all of the gestation time he sired a family, coped with a mysterious illness by bizarre water treatments, and lost his faith in God.

This book made me want to read other books by Quammen because he writes with clarity and literary backbone missing from some other nonfiction writers. ( )
  leonardbast | Jul 8, 2013 |
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In September 1838, a young Englishman named Charles Darwin hit upon the idea that "natural selection" among competing individuals would lead to wondrous adaptations and species diversity. Twenty-one years passed between that epiphany and publication of On the Origin of Species. The human drama and scientific basis of that time constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that illuminates this cautious naturalist who sparked an intellectual revolution. Drawing from Darwin's secret notebooks and personal letters, David Quammen has sketched a vivid life portrait of the man whose work remains controversial today.

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