Darwin Slept Here: Discovery, Adventure and Swimming Iguanas in Charles Darwin's South America

Overview

For "Darwin Year," a fresh-eyed and enchanting journey through South America in his footsteps

One snowy day in Ushuaia, Argentina, the self-proclaimed "southernmost city in the world," writer Eric Simons picked up a copy of Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle. Simons had just hiked the mountains overlooking Beagle Channel, and he found himself engrossed in Darwin's account.

Like Simons, Darwin was in his mid-twenties when he traveled to ...

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Overview

For "Darwin Year," a fresh-eyed and enchanting journey through South America in his footsteps

One snowy day in Ushuaia, Argentina, the self-proclaimed "southernmost city in the world," writer Eric Simons picked up a copy of Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle. Simons had just hiked the mountains overlooking Beagle Channel, and he found himself engrossed in Darwin's account.

Like Simons, Darwin was in his mid-twenties when he traveled to the continent. Simons followed Darwin further into South America--to stand where Darwin had stood and to explore the histories, legends and people that had fascinated him two centuries before. Simons trekked to as many of the locations Darwin wrote about as he could find to see if he could see these places through Darwin's eyes, and to learn what South Americans know about Darwin.

2009 is a double-anniversary year for Darwin: the 200th anniversary of his birth in February, and the 150th anniversary of publication of The Origin of Species. Darwin Slept Here is an innovative and thrilling new look at a familiar subject from a compelling new writer to watch.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The adventure behind this book began several years ago when Eric Simons, its author, chanced upon a copy of Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle. It was not long thereafter that Simons resolved to follow the path of the English naturalist as he trekked through South America in the early 1830s. Simon's account of his energetic retracing of his hero's footsteps encompasses much more than "Darwin stood here" or "slept there." He captures the intellectual excitement of this brilliant young man (Darwin was just 22 years old when he accepted the assignment) as he made his way through relatively unexplored lands. Like The Voyage of the Beagle, Darwin Slept Here has the feel of history experienced up close. A stimulating leisure read for anyone interested in science, evolution, and/or intellectual history.
Library Journal

A recent journalism school graduate, Simons was bored and frustrated with his night-shift newspaper job. Then, on a trip to the tip of South America, he picked up a copy of Charles Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle and felt compelled to re-create portions of that five-year voyage of discovery. Simons was about the same age as Darwin had been at the time and also had a taste for adventure. In his account, he does not follow Darwin's trip exactly (travel is quicker nowadays) but explores both the east and the west coasts of South America over a few trips. In between his accounts of Darwin's and his own travels, Simons also contextualizes Darwin's era, particularly his views on politics and culture. Most people think of evolution when they hear the name Darwin, but he also was forceful in his stance against slavery, admired the gaucho lifestyle, and studied indigenous Americans. He was a great explorer and naturalist. In the year of Darwin's birth bicentennial, Simons provides us with a more complete picture of this fascinating man. Recommended for all libraries.
—Lee Arnold

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781590202203
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 1/22/2009
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 8.18 (w) x 5.52 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Eric Simons is a 2008 graduate of the environmental and science writing program at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. His work has been published in such places as Mother Jones, the Los Angeles Times, and Sierra magazine. He lives in San Francisco with his wife.
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Table of Contents

Introduction The World's Most Famous Iguana Hurler 11

Pt. I Exploration

1 Brazil: A Chaos of Delights 27

2 Port Desire: Darwin's Rhea 43

3 Port San Julian: The Patagonian Myth 55

4 River Santa Cruz: The Terribly Uninteresting Land 79

Pt. II: R Evolution

5 England: One Last Frozen Image 97

6 Salvador Da Bahia: Beginning and End 109

7 La Plata: In Darwin's Muddy Footsteps 121

8 Tierra Del Fuego: Darwin Visited (Near To) Here 133

9 Bahia Blanca: The Gaucho Lifestyle 151

10 Sierra De La Ventana: Cerro 'Pres Picos 165

Pt. III Discovery

11 Chiloe: Charming Green Things That Don't Ooze 177

12 Valdivia: The Apple Story 197

13 Concepcion: Shaken, Not Stirred 207

14 Pisco Elqui: Denton Cactuses 217

15 Andacollo: The Gold Mine 225

16 Bell Mountain: Pron: the Pacific to the Andes 235

17 Amolanas Hacienda: Darwin Slept Here 241

Acknowledgments 251

Index 254

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