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Darwin's Other Big Idea,
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This review is from: The Descent of Man: Selection in Relation to Sex (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)(This review relates to the Penguin Classics Edition)
Gosh, this is a long book.
There are three sections. Sections I and III look at the evidence for the development of humans from more primitive creatures and sexual selection in humans. Section II (about half the book) is devoted to sexual selection in everything from insects to mammals.
So is it worth reading? In their introduction, Adrian Desmond and James Moore suggest that it forms the second volume of a trilogy (with On the Origin of Species and The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals) and that you really need to read all three to understand Darwinism as Darwin saw it. Part of this is to do with Darwin's two big ideas: natural selection and sexual selection. The other part is about the interrelationship of Darwin's science with the worldview of a Victorian country gentleman and the politics of the day; not least the politics of race, which is explored more thoroughly in Desmond and Moore's recent Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins.
If you're serious about Darwin and have read "On the Origin of Species", I would recommend tackling this, although you might be forgiven for not ploughing through the whole of Section II. As other reviewers have mentioned, Darwin's language, his views on race and gender and his ideas on the "improvement" of the human race can make uncomfortable reading in the 21st century.
In addition to the text and original black and white illustrations, there is an excellent introduction, a comprehensive index and the occasional foreign language quotations are given in both the original and an English translation.