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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for everyone!
This is an account of Darwin's voyage in HMS Beagle as a guest of Captain Fitz Roy. Fitz Roy wanted a gentleman naturalist to accompany him on an admiralty survey of the coast of South America in 1831. Darwin, using superb descriptive narrative, describes the flora, fauna, native inhabitants and perhaps most interestingly the geology of the countries he visits and draws...
Published on 4 Aug 2001 by D. Provan

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Darwin voyage of the Beagle
Interesting book but very annoying no maps not even one showing the route of the Beagle
Published on 9 Mar 2009 by Dr. C. M. Steel


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62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for everyone!, 4 Aug 2001
By 
D. Provan (Oxford UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is an account of Darwin's voyage in HMS Beagle as a guest of Captain Fitz Roy. Fitz Roy wanted a gentleman naturalist to accompany him on an admiralty survey of the coast of South America in 1831. Darwin, using superb descriptive narrative, describes the flora, fauna, native inhabitants and perhaps most interestingly the geology of the countries he visits and draws far reaching conclusions later to be published in "The Origin of Species". He is completely enamoured of the incredible diversity of the natural world and conveys this in a thoroughly readable way, drawing conclusions based on sound scientific reasoning. If you never read another scientific book then read this one. If you do read this then I defy you not to read "The Origin of Species".
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible adventure and a most enjoyable read, 28 May 2008
By 
Dennis Littrell (SoCal/NorCal/Maui) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
One of the amazing things about the voyage of the Beagle is that Darwin survived it! On the voyage south along the eastern coast of South America and then later on the western coast he would frequently take to the land and meet the Beagle at its next port of call further south or north. He would travel the land hiring gauchos or other guides and horses and mules so that he could study the geology and the flora and fauna. The hardships and dangers he encountered and survived would in some ways put Indiana Jones to shame. In Patagonia amidst the constant gaucho and Indian wars, rife with wanton bloodshed and a kind of genocidal determinism, Darwin rode on horseback and slept on the ground and ate mostly animal flesh of all kinds, including mare's flesh. In Tierra del Fuego the cold and barren lands were enormously forbidding, the inhabitants savage and the dangers very real. One senses in the young Charles Darwin a determination to be the kind of naturalist who leaves no stone unturned, no ridge unclimbed and no species uncollected.

What most surprised me was how well and vibrantly he described the many people he met. Here he speaks of the governor of St. Fe: his "favourite occupation is hunting Indians: a short time since he slaughtered forty-eight, and sold the children at the rate of three or four pounds apiece" (from the entry of Oct 3 and 4, 1832). And here is his description of Queen Pomarre of Tahiti: "The queen is a large awkward woman, without any beauty, grace or dignity. She has only one royal attribute: a perfect immovability of expression under all circumstances" (entry of November 25, 1835). Darwin was quite taken with the Tahitians lauding their sobriety (thanks to the temperance movement of the missionaries) while at the same time bringing a flask of spirits on his travels there. He seemed unaware of any inconsistency.

I was also surprised by Darwin's vigor. I had thought that he was prone to being sickly, and indeed at times, he reports that he was confined to his quarters and that he suffered from seasickness and even homesickness; but when one considers all the miles he travelled on foot, on horseback, and all the mountain peaks he obtained, and the deserts he crossed, the many insects bites he endured, and the hard, cold and wet ground on which he often slept, one has to applaud his strength of body and character. Another surprise was the amount of time he devoted to geology and speculations about the how the land came to be the way he found it. When he spoke of how the land had risen and the mountains formed I had the sense of how thrilled he would have been to have had the modern understanding of plate tectonics.

At a couple of points in the narrative, Darwin speaks of how the most luxurious vegetation does not support the greatest number of animals, or the largest. He compares the plains of Africa and Patagonia with the Brazilian rainforest and speculates on why this should be. At no point does he use the term "grasslands," and so I think we can conclude that he didn't have the knowledge we have today about how fertile grasslands can be, nor did he realize that most of the nutrients in the rain forest are contained within the living plants and organisms above ground leaving the soil relatively poor compared to grassland soil. In the entry for September 15, 1832, he writes: "In grassy plains unoccupied by the larger ruminating quadrupeds, it seems necessary to remove the superfluous vegetation by fire, so as to render the new year's growth serviceable."

Another bit of modern knowledge that would have pleased him to know is that the marine iguanas of the Galapagos Islands cannot just jump into the very cold water that exists there but must warm themselves first, and even then can only stand the water for a limited period of time (an hour or two, I believe). Darwin kept tossing one of the lizards into the water only to watch it return inexplicably again and again to the land.

I was looking for hints that Darwin was already thinking about natural selection, but the text contains nothing that I could find that is directly specific although at one point he refers to the origin of species as that "mystery of mysteries."

The book was written (and obviously rewritten and polished many times over) after Darwin returned to England after comparing notes with other naturalists. The advantage of this approach is the scientific rigor with which he is able to describe and evaluate his experiences. As a professional scientist, Darwin wanted to get all the scientific names right and avoid errors. One would expect through this approach that some immediacy would be lost, but if anything I suspect his journal gained in vividness and was made all the more intriguing for the precision of expression. It is, after all these years, still a most engaging and readable account of a most remarkable adventure--one of the best I've ever read, and I am surprised that it took me so many years to get to it!

The Voyage of the Beagle is also a book that will stay in print for many decades if not centuries to come, partly because it is so well written, and partly because Darwin is Darwin, but also because he was so precise in his descriptions of the animals and the people and the lands that he visited. By reading this we and future generations can learn of the changes that have taken place.

In short I was thoroughly dazzled at Darwin's enormously wide range of knowledge. But I shouldn't have been. In just reading this journal, one can easily see that young Mr. Darwin was already a superb naturalist and a brilliant thinker and observer.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a book of a trip, a journal of people and places (and anumals and plants), 24 Feb 2007
a book of a trip, a journal of people and places (and animals and plants)

This book is great.

I bought this book because I remembered the old TV series of the eighties. I expected a book with the aventures of the journey, but it is much more. It is more than the obervations of zoology and geology, it is mainly about the people, about the cultures that Darwin finds in South America and how he, as a modern European perceived the new independent South-American and native indians, their culture, their customs. With great objectivity, more than what would have today an ordinary tourist, Darwin depicts the way people live, the political and social issues, their superstitions, their food, their missery. And little by little Darwin gives his personal thoughts on everything from social to science issues.

Darwin's writing is clear and modern, full of wisdom and very personal. This edition of the ModernLibrary is very nice, the text has a decent size, the paper is fine and the cover too. Enjoy.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Darwin voyage of the Beagle, 9 Mar 2009
By 
Dr. C. M. Steel "Judith" (St. Andrews UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Interesting book but very annoying no maps not even one showing the route of the Beagle
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't tell me he wasn't having fun, 27 Nov 2003
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Remember this says "Journal" and that is what it is. It is his first parson adventures on and off the Beagle. He even includes stories about the people on the ship, the ship's life, and maintenance. He is always going ashore and venturing beyond the ship charter to go where no Englishman has gone before. He makes friends with tyrants and the down trodden. Once, to get an animal to come to him, he lay on his back and waved his arms and legs in the air. Whatever you do, do not turn your back on him. He is always knocking something on the head and taking it back for study. It is fun trying to match the old names for places with the new.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Darwin and the Beagle Journey!, 1 Aug 2007
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Charles Darwin's travels around the world as a 'gentleman' naturalist on HMS Beagle between 1831 and 1836 impressed upon him a sense of the natural world's beauty which he captures in a superlative descriptive narrative. He takes you on a journey along the coasts and interiors of South America and through the Pacific to the South Sea Islands. It displays Darwin's highly intuitive mind at work as he conceptualises the complex relations between our earth's life forms and its environment that leads him to his hypothesis of natural selection.

Whilst I enjoyed Darwin's descriptive narrative immensely I feel quite disappointed overall. I did not particularly like the journal layout of the book and the lack of detail about the actual sailing journey...though this was to be expected. In addition I read this as a layman naturalist and wish my entry level knowledge could have done the book better justice. Overall though a satisfying read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you hoped a Kindle would be like, 25 Jan 2011
By 
Amazon Customer (Gloucestershire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a note about the Mobilereference edition of Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. It goes without saying that the book itself is one of the greatest books of travel that you could possibly read. The mobilereference edition of the book is just what I hoped books would be like on Kindle. There are books out there, as Kindle owners will know, that are badly formatted and almost impossible to find your way around. This is not one of them. Not only are you able to go directly to any chapter from the table of contents but there is also a fully useable index that allows you to look up references to people, places and other subject matter and go from that directly to the page concerned. If I had a quibble it would be that the illustrations do not seem to be indexed but that is a small matter and I would recommend this edition wholeheartedly.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
By 
A. Patterson (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
No biology recommended reading list would be complete without a bit of Charlie Dee. But instead of The Origin of Species, which lets face it is a daunting Victorian proposition where a full stop comes around only every 10 pages or so, I place before you The Voyage Of The Beagle. It is a young man's book of discovery and wonderment of nature, a bit of a kaleidoscope of natural history, with bizarre tribes, treacherous mountain treks, incredible creatures, and all the other stuff you don't see on an 18- 30 holiday. I often wonder whether the young Charles Darwin was practically press ganged into this voyage by his uncle, having dropped out of medical school and just scraped his BA in theology (he was not a gifted scholar). He lived under the shadow of the great Erasmus Darwin, beardy weirdy grand daddy of natural history. His own father said of him in a letter "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs, and rat catching, and you will be a disgrace to yourself and all of your family". Although the experiences on the Galapagos are recounted fully, there are no deep philosophical musings about the origin of species, as that came later, and with the input of others. The book is just an innocent, child- like study in the fascination of nature. Excellent read. Short chapters, so ideal for those (shall we say) more lengthy visits to the water closet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't tell me he wasn't having fun, 30 Mar 2010
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Remember this says "Journal" and that is what it is. It is his first parson adventures on and off the Beagle. He even includes stories about the people on the ship, the ship's life, and maintenance. He is always going ashore and venturing beyond the ship charter to go where no Englishman has gone before. He makes friends with tyrants and the down trodden. Once, to get an animal to come to him, he lay on his back and waved his arms and legs in the air. Whatever you do, do not turn your back on him. He is always knocking something on the head and taking it back for study. It is fun trying to match the old names for places with the new.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You can't tell me he wasn't having fun, 3 Sep 2005
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Voyage of the Beagle (Modern Library) (Paperback)
Remember this says "Journal" and that is what it is. It is his first parson adventures on and off the Beagle. He even includes stories about the people on the ship, the ship's life, and maintenance. He is always going ashore and venturing beyond the ship charter to go where no Englishman has gone before. He makes friends with tyrants and the down trodden. Once to get an animal to come to him, he lay on his back and waved his arms and legs in the air. What ever you do, do not turn your back on him. He is always knocking something on the head and taking it back for study. It is fun trying to match the old names for places with the new.
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The Voyage of the Beagle (Modern Library)
The Voyage of the Beagle (Modern Library) by Steve Jones (Introduction) (Paperback - 19 April 2001)
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