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Charles Darwin: A New Life Paperback – 1 Oct 1992

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From the Back Cover

'A vivid and engrossing account of Darwin's inner life and his search for the laws of life. We feel the durable texture of his friendships and family attachments, and we witness the slow, painful genesis of ideas that are still transforming the world.'-Geoffrey Cowley, New York Times Book Review

About the Author

John Bowlby (1907 1990) was born in London and educated at the University of Cambridge and University College Hospital in London. His research and influential publications contributed to far-reaching changes in the ways children are treated and to radically new thinking about the social emotional development of human beings.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.4 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a social history of scientist's life 3 Jan. 2001
By William Chaisson - Published on
Format: Paperback
If you are interested in Darwin's personal life, by all means read this book. If you are more interested in Darwin's ideas, then I wouldn't bother with this book as there are many others. John Bowlby has a curious writing style that reminds me of a very well written clinical case study. There is a lot of "... which I will discuss in Chapter 25" and "I have stated above that ...". He is also fond of somewhat heavy-handed foreshadowing: " ... a decision which, in the future, he was likely to regret." End of chapter.
Once one gets used to this very straightforward style this becomes a very good book. Chapter by chapter Bowlby lays out the facts of Darwin's life and then interprets them from a psychiatrist's point of view. He examines the social milieu in which Darwin was raised, the physical and emotional symptoms that he exhibited and expressed in writing and explains why Darwin was such a reclusive, sickly man. He convincingly rejects the 'tropical disease' explanation in favor of an anxiety disorder. The book is well illustrated with helpful maps that show you the geography of Darwin's childhood and of the Beagle's voyage and portraits of Darwin at various ages and of his relatives and colleagues.
This is one of those biographies during the course of which you begin to get to know and empathize with the subject. In Darwin's case this is not a difficult sell. He seems to have been a genuinely good guy in all respects. You feel gratified to know that the person who shook the foundations of Western thought was not a jerk. Rather, he felt pretty terrible about it, but all the same felt required to tell the truth as he saw it, regardless of the consequences to his state of mind, which were considerable. We see that Darwin was pretty much the opposite of emotionally prepared to deliver a scientifically sound theory of evolution to the world and yet he did. That his intellectual discipline and fervor conquered his emotional demons seems so quinessentially ... well ... human and you can't help but be proud of him.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Evolution unknowingly affected Darwin's behavior.Masterfully 3 Jan. 2002
By Mike - Published on
Format: Paperback
The life and times of Darwin are masterfully brought to our attention by child emotional development expert and pioneer John Bowlby. Darwin's biography and upbringing are masterfully revealed and how they relate to his lifelong behavior, health, choices, and decisions in life. A most interesting aspect of this book is how evolution unknowingly affected Darwin's behavior as he himself is formulating and writing his famous theories on evolution. Because of the voluminous and extremely revealing written personal and professional correspondence by Darwin and his acquaintances a very good record of his health can be deduced from it. A must for those interested in more details on Darwin's life and how evolution affected the emotions and behavior of the main founder of evolution himself; and written by child emotional development pioneer Bowlby. It is a very detailed and well written book. For a complete definitive traditional biography of Darwin you may want to go to a plethora of other books available on the subject.
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Scientic & Personal Darwin Biography! 22 Sept. 2005
By Hans Castorp - Published on
Format: Paperback
This bio does a fine job in analyzing and comparing the great scientist's personal and family life, with his famous scientific research, writing, and early Beagle Explorations. Apparently, he had serious health problems, most in the digestive system, but overcame this adversity, among others, to write some of the greatest scientific documents ever. Of his ten children, three died young, including two as infants. His financial independence certainly helped matters, but the long and involved writing and research would probably have discouraged a lesser man. Truly well done thruout, and not overbearingly difficult for the scientific and biological layman, like this reviewer!
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best recent single volume Darwin Biography 4 July 2001
By John Anderson - Published on
Format: Paperback
My title probably says it all, but I will elaborate. I still think that janet Browne has made the best START to a biography, I just wish she would finish by giving us Vol. 2! In the meantime we have Bowlby and that isn't half bad. Full of interesting background material and written with a lively pace A NEW LIFE manages to steer through some of the perils of "psychohistory" that have damaged other authors and gives us an interesting and at times provocative look at Darwin and Darwin's time. Well worth the read.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of a man than just an evolutionist. 29 Nov. 1999
By Robert Steimle - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a marvelous story about a complicated man who faced great trials in life yet accomplished great things. Instead of the tired evolutionists arguments, this book tells of the childhood, the courtship, the struggles with physical health and the great family accomplishments of Charles Darwin, without skipping the intellectual genius of his mind and his scientific achievements. Enthralling.
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