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Darwin
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Table of Contents

1809-1831; 1831-1836; 1836-1842; 1842-1851; 1851-1860; 1860-1871; 1871-1882.

About the Author

Adrian Desmond studied at London University and Harvard, has higher degrees in vertebrate palaeontology and the history of science, and a Ph.D. for his work on Victorian evolution. He is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Biology Department at University College London. Adrian Desmond's bestselling Darwin (Penguin, 1992, written with James Moore), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in Britain, the Grand Comisso Prize in Italy and the Watson Davis Prize from the History of Science Society in America. In 1997 the British Society for the History of Science awarded it the first Dingle Prize for the best book of the decade in communicating the history of science to a wide audience. His study of the pre-Darwinian generation, The Politics of Evolution (1989), received the Pfizer Award from the History of Science Society. He has also published The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs (1975), The Ape's Reflexion (1979) and Archetypes and Ancestors (1982). In 1993 the Society for the History of Natural History awarded him its Founders' Medal. James Moore is a reader in history of science and technology at the Open University.

Reviews

In 44 chapters with copious notes and massive details, Darwin scholars Desmond and Moore give a rich portrait of the gentleman naturalist and scientific theorist from a sociocultural framework emphasizing Whig-Tory conflicts and Lyellian-Malthusian speculations. The authors reveal that Darwin was particularly influenced by the evolutionary ideas of zoologist Robert Grant; the implications of fossil Argentine megatheriums, speciated Galapagos mockingbirds, and the incredible varieties of barnacles; as well as experimentation with cultivated plants and animals. Despite a doting wife, loyal friends, and belated honors (though he was never knighted), Darwin's life was filled with illness, disappointment, and tragedy (especially the death of daughter Annie at age ten). This impressive volume makes clear that Darwin suffered from a lifelong schizoid struggle between his own materialist science and a late-Victorian theology. For a deeper examination of Darwin's sickness, read John Bowlby's Charles Darwin ( LJ 3/1/91) and Ralph Colp's To Be an Invalid ( LJ 6/1/77). Darwin's final written thoughts on religion are found in Nora Barlow's indispensable The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (1959). Essential reading for evolutionists, Desmond and Moore's monumental work is highly recommended for all academic libraries. BOMC, History Book Club, and Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selections.-- H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, N.Y.

Invaluable for its day-to-day account of Charles Darwin's activities, this monumental biography keenly conveys the English naturalist's struggle to make evolution and natural selection acceptable by presenting them as the bedrock of Victorian middle-class values. Using a trove of previously untapped material, the authors illuminate Darwin as a freethinking agnostic fearful of being labeled an anarchist, a scientific titan trapped on a literary treadmill, a voyager on the Beagle appalled at ``low'' races of savages, and a paterfamilias who subordinated women but was completely dependent on his wife. Above all, British authors Desmond ( The Hot-Blooded Dinosaurs ) and Moore, the editorial consultant to Cambridge University's Darwin Letters Project, plunge readers into the controversies of the era as parson-hating biologist Thomas Henry Huxley, socialist Alfred Russell Wallace, free-market capitalists and radical atheists bent Darwinism to their own purposes. Photos. BOMC, History Book Club and QPB alternates. (July)

A book that makes such an astounding physical as well as cerebral impact is a very rare commodity indeed.--Anthony Burgess
A riveting tour de force that meets the need for a new biography on the grand scale. . . . Rarely have the dynamic relations between a scientist's life and his theories been so fully, so forcefully recounted.--Roy Porter
Unquestionably the finest [biography] ever written about Darwin. . . . Darwin has now become, and properly, the quintessentially socially embedded scientist. Desmond and Moore are brilliant in their pursuit of this truly unifying theme.--Stephen Jay Gould
Pick is up and you are hooked, by the racy writing, the memorable turns of phrase, the historical insights and the sheer bravado of their performance.--William Bynum
At last, a biography to match the man. . . . Darwin, his family, his colleagues, and his milieu come alive in this book. . . . Superbly written.--Everett Menselson, Harvard University

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