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Darwin: A Graphic Biography Paperback – 5 Feb 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books (DC) (5 Feb. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588343529
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588343529
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 622,820 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Darwin: A Graphic Biography" is aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds. However, it's also sophisticated and detailed enough to give older readers a fantastic springboard into the life and scientific times of the world's greatest biologist. "Grovel
"

Eugene Byrne and Simon Gurr have crafted another history title of note with" Darwin: A Graphic Biography, " which will be published in February. I've read many books on Darwin, and still think there are not enough in the world, yet find it easy to recommend this new one to teens. In detailed, shadowed black-and-white drawings, the authors provide a "really exciting and dramatic story of a man who mostly stayed home and wrote some books." The standard facts are included: Darwin's childhood and early attraction to natural science, his voyage on the Beagle, and his long contemplation of evolution that led to writing and publication of "The Origin of the Species." But the facts are not what make this telling of his life so good.
Byrne and Gurr frame Darwin within the fanciful setting of a wildlife program filmed for "Ape TV," and the narrative is peppered with plenty of pithy footnotes, as well as some intense discussion of evolution. The apes interject infrequently, just enough to bring in the humor, but keeping the story from devolving into silliness, and the poignancy of Darwin's life and the challenges he faced on his path to the truth (in a shared role, thankfully noted here by Alfred Russell Wallace) are not overlooked. More importantly, the authors manage to introduce some timely intellectual discussions without intimidating readers who might be fairly new to Darwin's biography and make clear that the conclusions he reached were not casual or naive. It's a careful tightrope Byrne and Gurr walk of making their subject accessible, while not reducing his ideas to talking points. I think they have done a great job with Darwin, while injecting some unexpected humor into a very serious subject. Taken alongside Econ

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
Early in this bio, a college-age Darwin is out collecting beetles when he spies a rare bombardier beetle. With beetles already in both hands, he shoves the new specimen into his mouth, only to have it release a hot, stinking mixture of chemicals, causing him to lose all three insects. This is a typical anecdote in the account, which covers Darwin s entire life, from his upbringing and studies to his fateful voyage aboard the Beagle and publication of On the Origin of Species. Using the framing device of a group of wisecracking monkeys recording a nature special, Byrne and Gurr present Darwin as a misfit who never quite found a place in regular society. Gurr s b&w art is skillfully executed, but it does little to further the narrative on its own, and the book falls into a pattern of dense text explanations with drawings that fill in examples. While the book may be too text-heavy for a mass appeal, its drawbacks are outweighed by its sense of humor and its novel approach to telling the life story of one of history s most famous and misunderstood scientists. Ages 10 15. (Feb.)
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
Darwin s experiences and achievements are set within an overview of how societal views on science and religion evolved before his birth, during his lifetime, and after his death. The book is introduced by a group of anthropomorphic wild animals in Madagascar that are filming a documentary about Darwin s life for a channel called APE-TV. The monkeys serve to bookend the story, act as narrators and commentators, and provide comic relief. While readers who pick up this book will be able to learn a lot about Darwin s life, his theories, and the way they have stirred up controversy over the years, the format does not make the book accessible for assignments. That said, it is both witty and readable, and students who finish it will definitely have a better handle on the man and will see how his theories changed our understanding of the world. The black-and-white illustrations include cartoons, diagrams, and photographs, providing a good mix of scientific accuracy and humor that will make the subject matter more appealing. "Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library "

a fine addition to outstanding graphic nonfiction, joining other famous graphic biographies of cultural icons like Richard Feynman, Hunter S. Thompson, The Carter Family, and Steve Jobs. "Brain Pickings
Darwin: A Graphic Biography" is aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds. However, it s also sophisticated and detailed enough to give older readers a fantastic springboard into the life and scientific times of the world s greatest biologist. "Grovel
"

Eugene Byrne and Simon Gurr have crafted another history title of note with" Darwin: A Graphic Biography, " which will be published in February. I've read many books on Darwin, and still think there are not enough in the world, yet find it easy to recommend this new one to teens. In detailed, shadowed black-and-white drawings, the authors provide a "really exciting and dramatic story of a man who mostly stayed home and wrote some books." The standard facts are included: Darwin's childhood and early attraction to natural science, his voyage on the Beagle, and his long contemplation of evolution that led to writing and publication of "The Origin of the Species." But the facts are not what make this telling of his life so good.
Byrne and Gurr frame Darwin within the fanciful setting of a wildlife program filmed for "Ape TV," and the narrative is peppered with plenty of pithy footnotes, as well as some intense discussion of evolution. The apes interject infrequently, just enough to bring in the humor, but keeping the story from devolving into silliness, and the poignancy of Darwin's life and the challenges he faced on his path to the truth (in a shared role, thankfully noted here by Alfred Russell Wallace) are not overlooked. More importantly, the authors manage to introduce some timely intellectual discussions without intimidating readers who might be fairly new to Darwin's biography and make clear that the conclusions he reached were not casual or naive. It's a careful tightrope Byrne and Gurr walk of making their subject accessible, while not reducing his ideas to talking points. I think they have done a great job with Darwin, while injecting some unexpected humor into a very serious subject. Taken alongside Economix, this slim volume proves further the harmonious relationship that can be found between nonfiction and the graphic novel format. "Bookslut"

In "Darwin: A Graphic Biography," Eugene Byrne and Simon Gurr have created an enjoyable account of Charles Darwin s life and accomplishments that should resonate with young readers and clarify the often muddy waters surrounding the man and his contributions to science. [...] The book s primary audience may be children and teenagers, but Byrne doesn t dumb down the science; he simply gets to the core of it. As a result, "Darwin: A Graphic Biography" is fun and informative for readers of any age. "Foreword""

About the Author

EUGENE BYRNE is a freelance journalist whose work focuses on history and has been published in many periodicals, including "BBC History." "Darwin: A Graphic Biography" is the third historical graphic novel on which Byrne and illustrator Simon Gurr have collaborated.
SIMON GURR is a cartoonist and illustrator who has been producing web and print comics with a focus on educational illustration for more than twenty years.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a great read and the combination of words and pictures makes this a lot of fun.

I already had a layman's understanding of evolution and this fleshed out a lot of the background to how Darwin himself developed it.

One tiny gripe is that the story on the back cover about Darwin having 3 bugs to carry and putting one in his mouth isn't illustrated!

If you're in charge of buying books for schools, get this in bulk.
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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars 7 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just about perfect. 23 April 2013
By Saganite - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stunningly entertaining and filled with interesting facts and stories. Starting the book with the prediction that Darwin made, that if there was a flower with a 10" tubular blossom there must also be a pollinator with a proboscis long enough to reach that far, is a great framing device for the usefulness of Darwin's theory, and the way the man's mind worked.

The artwork, selection of facts and stories, and touches of sometimes wry, sometimes silly humor go a long way toward propelling the reader through a whirlwind tour of biography and biology. The reference toward the end to Human Genome Project hero Francis Collins, a brilliant scientist by any measure, and a committed evangelical Christian, initially seemed a little gratuitous to me (especially given that earlier on, I thought we had sort of dispensed with the religious view), but I can see that the authors wished to make sure that the facts of evolution were available to everyone, regardless what extra-scientific commitments they might also hold.

It is a mistake to idolize Darwin too much. He was after all merely a man, but a smart, generous, solid man, I think; a good family man, filled with empathy and insight. But he got things wrong, and was a product of his times, as well. One great purpose to which Darwin can be put is to provide a narrative by which we can come to understand the rudiments of evolution. This graphic novel does that with as much economy, grace, and fun as I've ever seen.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure who this is aimed at 7 Feb. 2014
By Karen Y. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love the concept of teaching science history through a graphic novel but I was not impressed with the story being told as a premise of a nature docu-drama. I'm not sure to which audience that part was targeted, and it cheapened the subject. With that said, I hope the author continues to create these. Or that other people adopt this media for expanding science communication.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and informative 3 Mar. 2014
By Deb Oestreicher - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This illustrated biography of Darwin gives a nice overview of Darwin's life and ideas. It's fun to read the biography as a comic book and it may do a better job of engaging younger readers.
5.0 out of 5 stars so assume all's good. 24 Feb. 2015
By CJ Harris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Purchased by school district. Didn't hear any complaints from the teacher (and I would), so assume all's good.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Insightful 9 April 2013
By kambizT - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Very nice view and short look to Darwin's mind and his life. The book is not just about life chronology, it has many funny points and additional information as well.
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