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The Darwin Conspiracy

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Strong, well-written take on Darwin.

Very good book. It gives the reader both the historical insight to Darwin and The Beagle voyage, while also adding a solid back end story. Definitely pick it up. You can get through it during a good rainy weekend.

posted by Anonymous on January 3, 2006

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

Cheap shots

I really admire people like Darnton who can figure out a way to make a lot of bucks by smearing the reputation of someone unable to fight back. I guess he operates on the premise that 'the bigger they are, the more bucks that will fall.' Given that Darwin is one o...
I really admire people like Darnton who can figure out a way to make a lot of bucks by smearing the reputation of someone unable to fight back. I guess he operates on the premise that 'the bigger they are, the more bucks that will fall.' Given that Darwin is one of the most highly respected scientists in the history of biology, any one who defames him should be absolutely sure of their facts, and should provide an epilogue to clarify exactly where they strayed beyond known facts into speculation and fiction. Darnton lacks the professionalism to do either. True, he cites several references but nowhere does he identify which references, if any, document his allegations that Darwin stole the idea of natural selection from natives in Terra del Fuego, and from a fellow biologist -- whom he then murdered. I suppose Darnton¿s next book is going to be about how Newton stole the theory of gravity from a tightrope walker or Einstein learned the Theory of Relativity by channeling from space aliens. Darnton even tries convincing readers that Darwin's health must have failed because of intense guilt. He gives no credence to the possibility that Darwin picked up a tropical disease or parasite -- a fate that has ruined the health of many an explorer, even in modern times. After expeditions into Cambodia, one of my biologist colleagues end up with something like Blackwater feaver, involving massive hemorrhaging of his kidneys¿as well as Denge Feaver. Another guy¿s expedition to Borneo was yielded a parasite as thick as his little finger that burrowing its way through his body and face until it emerged from his eye socket. Removing the parasite intact was essential if it broke off in his flesh, it would have rotted in place and killed him. Hence, a month of agony, pulling it out millimeter by millimeter. One can only wonder what little demons Darwin picked up in South America and other exotic locations. Keep in mind that diagnosis 150 yrs ago wasn¿t quite up to modern standards. Indeed, it is only in the past months that investigators confirmed that Beethoven died of lead poisoning, presumably from drinking wine from leaden or leaded-crystal goblets. One can only wonder whether Darwin's remains were preserved and could be subjected to a modern postmortum. For now, I've got to place The Darwin Conspiracy on an even lower scale than DaVinci Code regarding historical veracity. Is it a good read, despite its defects ¿ not unless you are titillated by poor scholarship and cheap shots. S Stringham, PhD

posted by Anonymous on January 21, 2006

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  • Posted January 28, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not without merit, but not great, either

    First of all, this book IS fiction (!) Not to spoil the plot, it is built around a secret circumstances of Darwin voyage on "Beagle" , related to the development of his theory. The threads of this secret are being discovered ( as parallel story lines) decades later by Darwin's daughter Lizzy, and centuries later by a romantic couple of scientists. So there are clear da-vinci-codish overtones there. Very little of hardcore biology , don't be afraid if it is not your interest. To me, the strongest points of the book are great descriptions of the scene settings, from South America to England. I found the plot itself sort of tepid, pale and not really convincing, even for a fiction . I grade the books as Buy and Keep (BK), Read Library book and Return ( RLR) and Once I Put it Down I Couldn't Pick it Up ( OIPD-ICPU). This one was OIPD-ICPU , maximum weak RLR. Sorry.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 21, 2006

    Cheap shots

    I really admire people like Darnton who can figure out a way to make a lot of bucks by smearing the reputation of someone unable to fight back. I guess he operates on the premise that 'the bigger they are, the more bucks that will fall.' Given that Darwin is one of the most highly respected scientists in the history of biology, any one who defames him should be absolutely sure of their facts, and should provide an epilogue to clarify exactly where they strayed beyond known facts into speculation and fiction. Darnton lacks the professionalism to do either. True, he cites several references but nowhere does he identify which references, if any, document his allegations that Darwin stole the idea of natural selection from natives in Terra del Fuego, and from a fellow biologist -- whom he then murdered. I suppose Darnton¿s next book is going to be about how Newton stole the theory of gravity from a tightrope walker or Einstein learned the Theory of Relativity by channeling from space aliens. Darnton even tries convincing readers that Darwin's health must have failed because of intense guilt. He gives no credence to the possibility that Darwin picked up a tropical disease or parasite -- a fate that has ruined the health of many an explorer, even in modern times. After expeditions into Cambodia, one of my biologist colleagues end up with something like Blackwater feaver, involving massive hemorrhaging of his kidneys¿as well as Denge Feaver. Another guy¿s expedition to Borneo was yielded a parasite as thick as his little finger that burrowing its way through his body and face until it emerged from his eye socket. Removing the parasite intact was essential if it broke off in his flesh, it would have rotted in place and killed him. Hence, a month of agony, pulling it out millimeter by millimeter. One can only wonder what little demons Darwin picked up in South America and other exotic locations. Keep in mind that diagnosis 150 yrs ago wasn¿t quite up to modern standards. Indeed, it is only in the past months that investigators confirmed that Beethoven died of lead poisoning, presumably from drinking wine from leaden or leaded-crystal goblets. One can only wonder whether Darwin's remains were preserved and could be subjected to a modern postmortum. For now, I've got to place The Darwin Conspiracy on an even lower scale than DaVinci Code regarding historical veracity. Is it a good read, despite its defects ¿ not unless you are titillated by poor scholarship and cheap shots. S Stringham, PhD

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2006

    Strong, well-written take on Darwin.

    Very good book. It gives the reader both the historical insight to Darwin and The Beagle voyage, while also adding a solid back end story. Definitely pick it up. You can get through it during a good rainy weekend.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2005

    A fine read. A real page turner!

    John Darnton transports the reader to the Galapagos and the tidal shift of biological debate with deft and ease. This is a great book of confrontation--science and religion, fathers and sons, man and myth. If there is any criticism, it is that there was not more pages to turn. Enjoy!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Mortal Darwin

    Highly enjoyable light reading material. Reinforces my view that all famous people are just everyday people like the rest of us. We all have our drama, tragedy, hopes, fears and joys in life. Even the most intelligent person can make mistakes in their personal lives. While most of the book is fiction, it is based off historical events, which shed a new light on Darwin and all of his adventures in life. It has left me with the impression that Darwin found his own gilded cage to be locked in and sing from until the end of time. Fame and fortune cannot undo character, and in some cases bring out the worst of one's character. While Darwin did not become a devil through is life, it sounds like he was never truly a saint either. Just an every day guy trying to find himself. Many good debates on organized religion, theory of Natural Selection and personal growth to delight the reader and hopefully broaden one's logic horizons.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2006

    Great book

    I love this book because there was so many surprises that kept me guessing. I recommend this to anyone who evants to learn about evolution and the man behind it, Charles Darwin.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2011

    This book is OK

    "The Darwin Conspiracy" is an OK book.

    Essentially the two main characters, Beth and Hugh, uncover suprising facts about Darwin and his theory of evolution,

    Although the story itself is well written, the way Darnton presents it is confusing. The book constantly switches between Beth and Hugh's story, Darwins adventures on the Beagle and his daughter Lizzie's journal.

    Hugh also struggles with his brothers death throughout the book. Fortunately this resolves itself by the end.

    Although the story is good the ending is confusing to me and I feel it needs more explaination.
    If you enjoy learning about Darwin or if you like mystery books I would recommend this book for you. If you don't then this book isn't for you.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 19, 2007

    People this is a work of fiction

    What you must keep in mind is that this is a fictional tale. It is not 'trashing' anyone's reputation. Many books take facts from everyday life and use them to write entertainment (ie: Dan Brown's the DaVinci Code).

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 21, 2006

    Could not put it down!!!!

    I loved this book. In the beginning I thought it was knd of slow moving, but then the pace started to pick up. I could not put this book down. Great read and the way Darton decscibes the travels of the Beagle makes you feel like you are really there. This book put my imagination to work, when trying to picture all of the great places he was describing. Even after reading, I wish there was more, especially the writings from the daughter of Darwin Lizzie or should we call her Bessie? She was a sneeky little thing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2006

    Very Disappointed

    I am horrified that the author of this ¿work¿ would trash Charles Darwin so appallingly. There is neither a forward nor afterword stating that most of the outrageous things he says about Darwin are the product of his imagination. How many people will read this and think that Charles Darwin actually stole his idea of the theory of natural selection from a South American native! And murdered a fellow naturalist to boot! To slander the name of one of the greatest men who ever lived just to make a buck is beyond my comprehension. I was very, very disappointed to say the least.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 19, 2005

    Good but not great

    The book stood prospect of being very good had a more plausible circumstance surrounding Mr.McCormick's end been developed.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    interesting look at darwin

    Field anthropologist Hugh Kellem tries to solve several mysteries related to Darwin. Near Ecuador, the British researcher meets scientist Beth Dulcimer, who also seeks to understand why the famous naturalist took over twenty years to release the Origin of the Species and what happened to him that changed him from a confident scientist into a near anxious recluse. Twentyish Darwin spends five years on the Beagle taking copious notes of what he observes on his journey and becomes increasingly confident in his abilities to do his job while a rival tries to usurp his findings. His notes serve as the basis of his classic Origin of Species by Natural Selection released in 1858. In the 1870s Darwin's youngest daughter Lizzie keeps a journal that show her growing concern about her father who seemingly over night changed from a vigorous person into a frightened shadow of himself. Hugh and Beth find Lizzie¿s diaries. --- This interesting tale uses three points of view to tell a fictionalized account (based on known facts) of Darwin. The story opens with Hugh and Beth teaming up as both fixates over learning the mysteries of Darwin and on each other (that common obsession helps). The second (and by far the most interesting and intelligently designed) subplot follows Darwin¿s adventures from drinking with the Captain before leaving, to seasickness, to self-assured individual and finally struggling with a competitor. The final segue focuses on Lizzie¿s diary. Though well written, the present subplot seems unnecessary as it turns the life of Darwin into more of an academic mystery that includes a final shocking twist. While readers will enjoy sailing with Darwin and somewhat Lizzie¿s follow up in his later life, the present pales in comparison. --- Harriet Klausner

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2011

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    Posted May 10, 2010

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    Posted December 12, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2011

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