Charles Darwin : Victorian mythmaker
Summary:A radical reappraisal of Darwin argues that the evolution pioneer was less of an original scientific intellect than a ruthless self-promoter who did not give credit to the actual sages whose ideas he advanced in his history-shaping book.
One hot summer : Dickens, Darwin, Disraeli, and the great stink of 1858
Summary:"A unique, in-depth view of Victorian London during the record-breaking summer of 1858, when residents both famous and now-forgotten endured ‘The Great Stink’ together. While 1858 in London may have been noteworthy for its broiling summer months and the related stench of the sewage-filled Thames River, the year is otherwise little remembered. And yet, historian Rosemary Ashton reveals in this compelling microhistory, 1858 was marked by significant, if unrecognized, turning points. For ordinary people, and also for the rich, famous, and powerful, the months from May to August turned out to be a summer of consequence. Ashton mines Victorian letters and gossip, diaries, court records, newspapers, and other contemporary sources to uncover historically crucial moments in the lives of three protagonists–Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin, and Benjamin Disraeli. She also introduces others who gained renown in the headlines of the day, among them George Eliot, Karl Marx, William Thackeray, and Edward Bulwer Lytton. Ashton reveals invisible threads of connection among Londoners at every social level in 1858, bringing the celebrated city and its citizens vibrantly to life"–Provided by publisher.
Darwin : an exceptional voyage
Summary:"When the young amateur naturalist Charles Darwin boarded the HMS Beagle in 1831, he had no idea what lay in store on his five-year voyage across the world. Darwin was disenchanted, moved, scandalised and awestruck by the vast discoveries that he made on his journey. On his return, he wrote his famous and controversial theory on the evolution of species. This long, perilous exploration was a journey that changed a man, and in doing so, the course of science itself."
Darwin’s sacred cause : how a hatred of slavery shaped Darwin’s views on human evolution
Summary:There is a mystery surrounding Darwin: How did this quiet, respectable gentleman, a pillar of his parish, come to embrace one of the most radical ideas in the history of human thought? Darwin risked a great deal in publishing his theory of evolution, so something very powerful–a moral fire–must have propelled him. That moral fire, argue authors Desmond and Moore, was a passionate hatred of slavery. They draw on a wealth of fresh manuscripts, correspondence, notebooks, diaries, and even ships’ logs to show how Darwin’s abolitionism had deep roots in his mother’s family and was reinforced by his voyage on the Beagle as well as by events in America. Leading apologists for slavery in Darwin’s time argued that blacks and whites were separate species, with whites created superior. Darwin believed that the races belonged to the same human family, and slavery was therefore a sin.–From publisher description.
Charles and Emma : the Darwins’ leap of faith
Summary:Charles Darwin and his wife, Emma, were deeply in love and very supportive of each other, but their opinions often clashed. Emma was extremely religious, and Charles questioned God’s very existence.
Angels and ages : a short book about Darwin, Lincoln, and modern life
Summary:On February 12, 1809, two men were born an ocean apart: Abraham Lincoln in a one-room Kentucky log cabin; Charles Darwin on an English country estate. Each would see his life’s work inspire a stark change in mankind’s understanding of itself. In this bicentennial twin portrait, Adam Gopnik shows how these two giants, who never met, altered the way we think about death and time–about the very nature of earthly existence.
Darwin’s backyard : how small experiments led to a big theory
Summary:"James T. Costa takes readers on a journey from Darwin’s childhood through his voyage on the HMS Beagle where his ideas on evolution began. We then follow Darwin to Down House, his bustling home of forty years, where he kept porcupine quills at his desk to dissect barnacles, maintained a flock of sixteen pigeon breeds in the dovecote, and cultivated climbing plants in the study, and to Bournemouth, where on one memorable family vacation he fed carnivorous plants in the soup dishes. Using his garden and greenhouse, the surrounding meadows and woodlands, and even taking over the cellar, study, and hallways of his home-turned-field-station, Darwin tested ideas of his landmark theory of evolution with an astonishing array of hands-on experiments that could be done on the fly, without specialized equipment. He engaged naturalists, friends, neighbors, family servants, and even his children, nieces, nephews, and cousins as assistants in these experiments, which involved everything from chasing bees and tempting fish to eat seeds to serenading earthworms. From the experiments’ results, he plumbed the laws of nature and evidence for the revolutionary arguments of On the Origin of Species and his other watershed works. Beyond Darwin at work, we accompany him against the backdrop of his enduring marriage, chronic illness, grief at the loss of three children, and joy in scientific revelation. This unique glimpse of Darwin’s life introduces us to an enthusiastic correspondent, crowd-sourcer, family man, and, most of all, an incorrigible observer and experimenter."–Jacket flap.
Darwin’s ghosts : the secret history of evolution
Summary:Christmas, 1859. Just one month after the publication of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin received an unsettling letter. He had expected criticism; in fact, letters were arriving daily, most expressing outrage and accusations of heresy. But this letter was different. It accused him of failing to acknowledge his predecessors, of taking credit for a theory that had already been discovered by others. Darwin realized that he had made an error in omitting from Origin of Species any mention of his intellectual forebears. Yet when he tried to trace all of the natural philosophers who had laid the groundwork for his theory, he found that history had already forgotten many of them. Evolution was not discovered single-handedly, the author argues, contrary to what has become standard lore, but is an idea that emerged over many centuries, advanced by daring individuals across the globe who had the imagination to speculate on nature’s extraordinary ways, and who had the courage to articulate such speculations at a time when to do so was often considered heresy.
The book that changed America : how Darwin’s theory of evolution ignited a nation
Summary:Traces the impact of Charles Darwin’s "On the Origin of Species" on a diverse group of writers, abolitionists, and social reformers, including Henry David Thoreau and Bronson Alcott, against a backdrop of growing tensions and transcendental idealism in 1860 America.