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Other titles in the Books That Changed the World series:
Darwin's Origin of the Species: A Biography (Books That Changed the World)by Janet Browne
Synopses & Reviews
To book has changed our conception of ourselves more than Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species. It caused a sensation on its publication in 1859, selling out its entire print run in one day, and went on to become an international best seller. The idea that living things, including humans, gradually evolve through natural selection profoundly shocked its Victorian readers, calling into question what had been for many the unshakeable belief that there was a Creator. In this book, Janet Browne, Charles Darwin's foremost biographer, shows why The Origin of Species can fairly claim to be the greatest science book ever published. Browne describes the long genesis of Darwin's theories, from his early readings as a university student and his five-year voyage on the Beagle, to his debates with contemporaries and experiments in his garden. She explores the shock to Darwin when he read of a competing scientist's similar discoveries and the wide and immediate impact of Darwin's theories on the world. Darwin's seminal work is nearly as controversial today as it was upon publication over a century ago, and it remains at the heart of an intense debate between scientists and creationists. Browne's illuminating history of The Origin of Species couldn't come at a more appropriate time.
"It may seem peculiar to write a biography of a book, but Darwin's Origin of Species is certainly a worthy subject. A foremost Darwin biographer, Browne takes a straightforward approach to the life and times of this famous tome, beginning with Darwin's early years and journey around the world. She then explains how he developed his theory of evolution (a word that doesn't appear in the first edition) during his years as a country scientist. Darwin included an unusual chapter on things he couldn't yet explain with his theory. On publication, the book gained instant celebrity around the globe — even Queen Victoria took notice of it, though she mused that the book would be too difficult for her to understand. In her discussion of the storm the book aroused, Browne makes the fascinating point that Darwin highly respected his American friend Asa Gray, whose views were very similar to those of today's advocates of intelligent design. Browne's final chapter on the book's legacy isn't comprehensive, but it's a good summary of subsequent modifications to Darwin's theory. This excellent introduction is highly recommended for all readers who want to better understand the heated debates that this book still causes today." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Browne (history of medicine, U. College London, UK) turns from her well-received two-part biography of Charles Darwin, consisting of Voyaging and The Power of Place, to a relatively brief examination of the genesis, writing, reception, and legacy of his most famous work, The Origin of Species, in which he outlined his theory of biological evolution. While Browne's primary concern is scientific, social aspects of Darwin's work do not escape her notice and discussion of Victorian religious shock, social Darwinism, the American State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes trial, and similar matters is included to a limited extent. Annotation ©2007 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Charles Darwins foremost biographer, Janet Browne, delivers a vivid and accessible introduction to the book that permanently altered our understanding of what it is to be human. A sensation on its publication in 1859, The Origin of the Species profoundly shocked Victorian readers by calling into question the belief in a Creator with its description of evolution through natural selection. And Darwins seminal work is nearly as controversial today. In her illuminating study, Browne delves into the long genesis of Darwins theories, from his readings as a university student and his five-year voyage on the Beagle , to his debates with contemporaries and experiments in his garden. She explores the shock to Darwin when he read of competing scientists similar discoveries and the wide and immediate impact of Darwins theories on the world. As one of the launch titles in Atlantic Monthly Press Books That Changed the World” series, Brownes history takes readers inside The Origin of the Species and shows why it can fairly claim to be the greatest science book ever published.
Browne shows why Darwin's seminal work can fairly claim to be the greatest science book ever published. She describes the genesis of Darwin's theories, his debates with contemporaries, and the immediate and long-term impact of his theories on the world.
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