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We Were There with Charles Darwin on H.M.S.…
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We Were There with Charles Darwin on H.M.S. Beagle

Sèrie: We Were There (30)

MembresRessenyesPopularitatValoració mitjanaConverses
571375,215 (3.5)Cap
Membre:sophiestreitwieser
Títol:We Were There with Charles Darwin on H.M.S. Beagle
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Informació:Publisher Unknown
Col·leccions:Per llegir
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Etiquetes:biography, science

Informació de l'obra

We Were There with Charles Darwin on HMS Beagle de Philip Eisenberg

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The "We Were There" series of books puts fictional adolescents in the midst of actual historical events, as a way of making history real to younger readers. This entertaining work follows the young Charles Darwin in his historic voyage around the world in the 1830s, as seen through the eyes of a (fictional) cabin boy, Dick Covington, who serves as his assistant.

This book offers an entertaining account of a singularly important historical event, one readily accessible to younger readers of both sexes. The reader is presented with the actual puzzles that intrigued Darwin and which figures importantly in his geological and biological conclusions -- including the natural forces that have produced mountains, coral reefs, and life's diversity.

Dick first meets the unusual Mr Darwin aboard ship, where the naturalist introduces the cabin boy to the gear with which he hopes to collect organisms and fossils to send back to England for study. First stop on the voyage is the Cape Verde Islands, where Dick and Mr Darwin explore such marine creatures as corals and cephalopods. A trip across the South Atlantic takes them to the jungles of Brazil, where they encounter myriad and diverse animals and plants, and then it's off to the fossil beds of Punta Alta, where they discover skeletal remains of the extinct giant ground sloth. At the tip of the South American continent, they travel through the treacherous Tierra del Fuego where they experience a tense encounter with the indigenous Fuegians. Then it's up the west coast of South America through Argentina and on to Chile, where they experience a major earthquake that (to Darwin's great surprise) raises new islands up from beneath the ocean. Together, they take a land trip across the Andes, where the two inexplicably discover marine fossils at high altitudes, far from the ocean. And then its across the ocean to the mysterious Galapagos Islands, where Dick sees diverse birds that are unafraid of humans, and gets to ride on the back of a giant tortoise. There, Darwin begins to express his ideas about the natural evolutionary forces that could have yielded such distinctive life forms in that distant and hostile envionment. As the Beagle makes its way around the world, the story is next picked up at the Keeling Islands. Finally, the ship is homeward bound to England, nearly five years after its departure.

Given its entertainment value and pedagogical worth, it may seem pedantic to quarrel with any aspects of this semi-fictional account. Nevertheless, contrary to Eisenberg's story, we now know that Darwin did not begin to formulate the outlines of his evolutionary ideas until two years after his return to England; nor (as recent scholarship has shown) did he recognize that different finches came from different islands in the Galapagos chain (in fact, he came to regret not having labelled his speciments as to collecting locales). Two other minor factual errors: the giant Galapagos turtles do not have the ability to shut their shells like a box turtle (although it makes for an exciting episode in this book); and Darwin's voyage was not actually the last voyage of the HMS Beagle. Such minor points will be of little concern to the vast majority of potential readers.

Eisenberg does a fine job popularizing and humanizing this historic voyage, and presenting Charles Darwin as the engaging, enthusiastic naturalist of his younger years; thus this work carries on the tradition of the We Were There series in excellent form. ( )
4 vota danielx | Oct 16, 2010 |
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