- Hardcover: 176 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Books; First Edition edition (13 July 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1843543931
- ISBN-13: 978-1843543930
- Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2 x 20.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,398,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Darwin's "Origin of Species": A Biography (Books That Shook the World) Hardcover – 13 Jul 2006
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"Clear and artful. It reads like a compelling mystery; indeed it draws us into the compelling mystery of speculation that captivated Darwin."
"Browne shows great respect for the purity of Darwin's intellectual, moral, and spiritual endeavors. She believes in, and conveys, the lasting power of his legacy--to science and to human culture."
"Browne takes a straightforward approach to the life and times of this famous tome. . . . This excellent introduction is highly recommended for all readers who want to better understand the heated debates that this book still causes today." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Janet Browne is a professor at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at UCL. Her major work has been a landmark two-volume biography of Charles Darwin, Voyaging (1995) and The Power of Place (2002).
Top Customer Reviews
For Darwin, facts were not Gradgrindian blows to the soul but living creatures (though often soon to be extinguished by his habit for either collecting or shooting them). His childhood love of nature and sense of wonder at the diversity of life found an early expression in William Paley's theology of a designer-god, which suited his intended career as one those naturalist-parsons who enjoyed "a comfortable niche in a country parish". Like Paley, "Darwin saw organisms that were excellently adapted to their way of life". Unlike Paley and almost everyone else, Darwin saw that sometimes organisms were very poorly designed and very often came off worse in the struggle for survival. He "shattered all previous images of pastoral harmony". He saw that "the urge to succeed was brutal" and "it seemed unlikely that a divine architect would deliberately create such wasteful, purposeless features." As he watched his own daughter die, he asked, "How could a caring, beneficent creator extinguish such an innocent child?Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
This book is a blend of biography, history of the times in relationship to evolutionary theory and its competing theories, how Darwin's theory came about, a history of Darwin's writing and their development over time (not just Origin of Species), what the legacy of Darwin's theory has been and what recent developments have been impacting the theory of evolution (i.e., the impact of genetic theory of evolution). The book does a very good job at touching at all these topics in its relatively short length. Very good for the lay reader who is looking for a decent combination of all of the above. For a reader looking for an-depth discussion of any of the above however, this would not be the book to read. It is only intended as a survey of the above topics and in that it succeeds.
The CD is very beautifully read and quite eloquent. Unquestionably one of the best audiobooks this reviewer has had the pleasure to listen to (and this reviewer listens to many). The reader is always enthusiastic, never monotone and the accent captures well both the times and the author. Very good for long trips as well as listening to on one's daily commute to and from work (when one is most tired). The audio portion of the book is a five star while the content itself is a four star.
This is one out of a series of short books entitled "Books That Changed the World." It is yet another example of the recent trend toward concise volumes (this one runs 174 pages including index) that, despite their brevity, cram in a tremendous amount of useful information. After a brief introduction, the first two chapters are mini-biographies of Darwin prior to publication of the "Origin." As always, Browne is interested on the books and ideas (Lyell, Malthus, etc.) that shaped Darwin's own perspective. Since Browne knows more about Darwin than anyone else, these brief chapters are rich indeed in insight and perception--small gems. Next, Browne moves on to the actual publication of the "Origin" and the Victorian intellectual framework into which it was released. The controversy the book unleashed is covered in the next chapter, perhaps the longest and surely the most concentrated in the book. If anything, too much information is included here, especially for readers new to Darwin and Victorian science, and it is covered rather quickly. The final chapter deals with developments occurring from Darwin's death up until virtually the present, particularly in genetics and other scientific developments ultimately upholding Darwin's thesis.
The book includes brief notes and a short bibliography, as well as a fine index. "Origin of Species" did indeed "change the world" and this fine introduction hopefully will facilitate greater and wider understanding of Darwin's enormous contribution to science and our understanding of the world we inhabit.