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On the Origin of Species, published in 1858, transformed our view of the world and made Charles Darwin one of the most controversial figures in science. This biography begins much earlier with his long search for a profession, his five-year voyage around the world on the Beagle, and the decades-long intellectual journey he made in his study and garden. But it is for his theory about the origin of man and natural selection that he is remembered. His book threw the scientific community into a heated debate that continues today, and has made evolutionary biology one of the liveliest areas of science. This new biography looks at the person behind the controversy whose earth- shaking discoveries and ideas remain as exciting and interesting as today's headlines.
Oxford Profiles in Science is an on-going series of scientific biographies for young adults. Written by top scholars and writers, each biography examines the personality of its subject as well as the thought process leading to his or her discoveries. These illustrated biographies combine accessible technical information with compelling personal stories to portray the scientists whose work has shaped our understanding of the natural world.
Examines the personality as well as the thought process which led this naturalist to his discoveries which have helped shape our understanding of the natural world.
Temperamentally unsuited for either medicine or the clergy, young Darwin was still casting about for direction in life when he wangled a berth on the Beagle; five years later, he returned, of course, with crates of specimens, volumes of observations, and some disturbing ideas about nature that would occupy him for the next half-century. Noting that Darwin was not a lone genius, but part of a scientific community a-froth with new ideas and discoveries, Stefoff carefully traces the antecedents to his theory of natural selection, and describes its refinement, both in his hands, and in those of his successors, up to Stephen Jay Gould's concept of "punctuated equilibrium." The storm of opposition gets due notice, too, from Tennyson's In Memoriam through the Scopes Trial to today's Creation Science (its arguments are delivered, however, without conviction or detail). This is a first-rate portrait of the man, public and private, as well as his circle and his scientific legacy, not as charming as Piero Ventura's Darwin, Nature Reinterpreted (1995, not reviewed) but thoughtful and authoritative.
"Budding evolutionary biologists will welcome this thoroughly researched biography, which emphasizes Darwin's tremendous influence in scientific, social, and political spheres."--Booklist
"Stefoff is an excellent, lucid writer... This delightful little book is quite accessible to readers with little background in biology... Young readers will inevitably learn something about evolution..."--Quarterly Review of Biology
"A lucid, lively, systematic account of [Darwin's] two great journeys--one physical, one intellectual--and the modern course of the controversy he sparked."--Kirkus Reviews
"Not only an excellent biography but also a fine introduction to evolutionary biology.... Well-captioned black-and-white archival photographs, reproductions, and drawings, a chronology, and two-or-three page sidebars all extend the text.... A well-written, thoroughly engaging biography."--School Library Journal