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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light will be thrown on Charles Darwin and his life
This biography of Charles Darwin was written by Randal Keynes, a descendent of both Darwin himself and the economist Maynard Keynes. Originally published I believe as Annie's Box in 2001, it has been re-publised with the new title to coincide with the release of the film Creation, loosely based on this biography. The work is not a complete biography in that it begins...
Published on 17 Jan. 2010 by Matthew Culley

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars tedious reading
What a shame! I had seen the film( I know you shouldn't cmpare) but how disappointed I was in this book. The beginning gets you into the story and then he gets bogged down in the vast amount of archive material he had found. I was reading this for our book club read and was looking forward to a good read but found the endless factual references listed one after another...
Published on 8 Jun. 2010 by S. Watson


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light will be thrown on Charles Darwin and his life, 17 Jan. 2010
This review is from: Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin (Paperback)
This biography of Charles Darwin was written by Randal Keynes, a descendent of both Darwin himself and the economist Maynard Keynes. Originally published I believe as Annie's Box in 2001, it has been re-publised with the new title to coincide with the release of the film Creation, loosely based on this biography. The work is not a complete biography in that it begins with Darwin's marriage to Emma, thus missing out his early life, education and the voyage on the Beagle. It covers the period after the publication of the Origin of Species until Darwin's death relatively briefly. The chief focus is the approximately 20 year period from his marriage to the publication of his magnum opus, and indeed this is the period covered by the aforementioned film. Of course, this is the critical period of Darwin's life: a mixture of tragedy and inspiration. The tragedy is of course the death of his dearly loved daughter Annie. This is well described in the book, and one has a great deal of empathy with Darwin. It is clear that Darwin himself is a sensitive and humanitarian person, far from the materialistic being that his distractors would have us believe. Indeed, Darwin's family is generally a happy one, and all the children are treated with kindness and love. That this is the case is demonstrated by some of Darwin's last words, were he thanks his children for their goodness.

I feel the emphasis in this biography is less on Darwin the scientist, and more on Darwin the man and the influences over him. Of course, it would be impossible to write on Darwin without touching on his science, and it is mentioned. One memorable and funny anecdote, for example, is when his children ask the neighbour's children 'where their father does his barnacles'! Darwin spent a significant amount of time studying different barnacles, and the results and insights from this study provided important evidence for evolution by natural selection.

Those who are interested in Victorian history will gain much from this book. Keynes includes elements of economic, social and medical history. There is an interesting chapter on Tuberculosis (TB) (the disease that probably killed Annie) and how hopeless medicine was in attempting to explain it. It was the work of Koch and others only two or three decades after the death of Annie that finally demonstrated the true cause of TB. The growth of the railways was mentioned, and its important impact on travel times for example allowing the Darwins to travel from Down in Kent to Malvern within a day.

Another theme running through the book is that of religion. Darwin started as a conventional Anglican, whilst his wife was a Unitarian (did not believe in the doctrine of the Trinity). However, from his observations on nature and through personal experience, Darwin modified his beliefs from believing in a personal god, to one that does not intervene in nature: an entirely impersonal god, essentially a force in the universe, perhaps akin to gravity. Towards the end of his life, Darwin describes himself as an agnostic. At the time of writing this review, with the horrific earthquake in Haiti these thoughts are particularly pertinent. With all of nature as it is, is a personal god consistent with what can be observed?

One small problem with the book is that its flow can sometimes be disjointed. There are a good number of quotations from original sources, which is good, but I felt occasionally a lack of flow and continuity, but this is a very minor concern, and does in no way distract from an excellent work which I can wholly recommend to any interested reader.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars tedious reading, 8 Jun. 2010
By 
S. Watson "worldtraveller" (se england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin (Paperback)
What a shame! I had seen the film( I know you shouldn't cmpare) but how disappointed I was in this book. The beginning gets you into the story and then he gets bogged down in the vast amount of archive material he had found. I was reading this for our book club read and was looking forward to a good read but found the endless factual references listed one after another too much and ended up skipping whole sections. It was a shame as I know that as a social history the book is excellent but it was not what I was expecting. I also found his style quite juvenile and repetitious at times, it felt as though he was trying to use all the material he ahd gathered but couldn't think of another way to introduce it. Charles Darwin was an amazing character and such an important person in history I felt this book really did not do him justice. Two members of our group thought the book a great read and fascinating, the others felt as I did.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A first class account from a family member, 28 Nov. 2009
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Mr. R. C. Maytum (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin (Paperback)
It's far more entertaining than many of the books about Charles Darwin. I have seen the film and enjoyed it very much, but the book is much more comprehensive and tells so much more than the film. Read it - you'll enjoy it! That's a promise!
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4.0 out of 5 stars more detail for someone sold on the movie., 12 July 2011
This review is from: Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin (Paperback)
I bought this book for my father as he had seen the program on tv and enjoyed it. He found the book very worthwhile as it provided greater depth to retelling the story.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 9 Jan. 2010
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Daphne Jowit (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin (Paperback)
arrived in good time, in excellent condition, and very pleased to have it. Thank you.
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Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin
Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin by Randal Keynes (Paperback - 17 Sept. 2009)
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