Darwin's Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution [NOOK Book]

Overview

"Sparkling . . . an extraordinary true-adventure story, complete with trials, tribulations and moments of exultation."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review


Award-winning cultural historian Iain McCalman tells the stories of Charles Darwin and his staunchest supporters: Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Wallace. Beginning with the somber morning of April 26, 1882—the day of Darwin's funeral—Darwin's Armada steps back and recounts the lives and scientific discoveries of each of ...
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Darwin's Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution

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Overview

"Sparkling . . . an extraordinary true-adventure story, complete with trials, tribulations and moments of exultation."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review


Award-winning cultural historian Iain McCalman tells the stories of Charles Darwin and his staunchest supporters: Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Wallace. Beginning with the somber morning of April 26, 1882—the day of Darwin's funeral—Darwin's Armada steps back and recounts the lives and scientific discoveries of each of these explorers, who campaigned passionately in the war of ideas over evolution and advanced the scope of Darwin's work.
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Editorial Reviews

Peter Dizikes
McCalman has produced an accessible introduction to the lesser-known ocean voyages of Hooker and Huxley, while Wallace's incredible wanderings retain their ability to amaze.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

In delightful prose, University of Sydney historian McCalman tells the intertwined stories of Charles Darwin and three younger 19th-century explorers who came together to make the case for evolution and aid its relatively rapid acceptance around the world. The younger three were greatly influenced by Darwin's 1839 description of his travels on the Beagle and wanted to follow suit. McCalman devotes a section to the travels of each: Darwin on the Beagle; botanist Joseph Hooker's journeys around Australia and Antarctica; biologist Thomas Henry Huxley's excursions around Australia and New Guinea; and zoologist Alfred Russel Wallace's years in the Amazon and throughout Southeast Asia. Although there's little that hasn't been told previously, McCalman does a good job of detailing the hardships each suffered while also demonstrating the scientific growth each underwent and explaining how their shared experiences brought them together. Once Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, the other three became his biggest and most public supporters, and their tireless efforts changed Darwin's reputation from being "the Devil's Disciple" to one of England's most respected scientists. 16 pages of color illus.; maps. (Aug. 17)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Kirkus Reviews
Sparkling group portrait of the intrepid naturalists who challenged accepted notions about the creation of life and transformed science in the process. Darwin's first book, The Voyage of the Beagle (1839), inspired the other three aspiring young scientists to follow in his footsteps. Joseph Dalton Hooker, Thomas Henry Huxley and Alfred Russel Wallace traveled to the South Seas and explored the hinterlands of Asia, Australia and Africa, braving arduous voyages, shipwrecks and tropical disease to gain access to "the richest natural laboratories on the globe." McCalman (Humanities/Univ. of Sydney; The Last Alchemist: Count Cagliostro, Master of Magic in the Age of Reason, 2004, etc.) interweaves a vivid account of their early travels with a lucid depiction of the world-shaping collaboration-the metaphorical "Armada" of the title-that enabled the quartet to successfully take on the class-ridden scientific establishment of its day. Darwin, dubbed "the Admiral" by McCalman, was their unquestioned leader, but the three "captains" in his metaphorical fleet contributed significantly to the theory of natural selection by explaining apparent anomalies in the way that species in neighboring regions diverged. Each collected extensive samples of plant life, insects and animals during his travels. Preserved and sent back to England, these specimens ultimately provided documented evidence of the variation and similarities among species, narrowing down the number of accepted species (a hotly disputed issue at the time). This allowed them to show how variations within each new generation of a given species can lay the basis for the emergence of new species-existing species branch out from a commonancestor as they adapt to new niche environments-providing a crucial element in understanding how natural selection works. Working as a team, Darwin, Hooker, Huxley and Wallace revealed for all to see the "origin, distribution and diversity of life on the planet."An extraordinary true-adventure story, complete with trials, tribulations and moments of exultation.
The New Yorker
“McCalman evokes the physical hardships and social intricacies navigated by his heroes . . . and also the feel of an era when 'adventure and science went hand in hand.'”
The New York Times Book Review
“[McCalman's] narratives are as much bildungsroman as scientific analysis, showing how the four voyagers were steeled and transformed by the demands of the sea and the wondrous unfamiliarity of life on distant shores.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
Ah, the Age of Sail: the tempests, the salty dogs, the derring-do. Befouled in the rigging of myth and nostalgia, the stories of the tall ships and the men who rounded the Horn in them are awash with the flotsam of parody and the jetsam of cliché. In an impressive feat of navigation, then, Iain McCalman renews the voyaging narrative in Darwin's Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution. He does so by reconceptualizing the sailing vessel not as a stage for Homeric exploits but as the 19th century's version of a postdoctoral fellowship. Recounting the ocean voyages of Charles Darwin and three of his closest associates -- botanist Joseph Hooker, fearsome defender of evolution Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of natural selection -- McCalman shows how important the sailing vessel was to the development of modern biology. For while it was the golden age of natural history, science had not settled into the academic, professionalized mode of its modern-day appearance. A cramped vessel filled with vermin and an ill-fed, resentful rabble would hardly seem the congenial setting for scientific discovery. But McCalman makes a convincing case that for Darwin and his future colleagues, a Royal Navy vessel under sail was "a type of college, with multidisciplinary knowledge available in an instant." Although the four men featured in Darwin's Armada emerged from radically different backgrounds, the circumstances of circumnavigation left them all "well-salted" -- tested to the limits of intellectual as well as physical enterprise and endurance, prepared for the scientific and cultural typhoon that their discoveries would stir. --Matthew Battles
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393071290
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 11/15/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 631,317
  • File size: 940 KB

Meet the Author

Iain McCalman is an award-winning professor at the , where he lives. He has served as president of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and director of the Humanities Research Centre at ANU. He lives in Sydney.
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Table of Contents

Prologue: Darwin's Last Voyage 1

Pt. 1 Charles Darwin and the Beagle, 1831-36

The Prodigal Son 17

The Philosopher at Sea 39

Islands on His Mind 60

Pt. 2 Joseph Hooker and the Ross Expedition, 1839-43

The Puppet of Natural Selection 85

The Travails of a Young Botanist 106

Pilgrims and Pioneers 127

Pt. 3 Thomas Huxley and the Voyage of the Rattlesnake, 1846-50

Love and Jellyfish 151

To Hell and Back 175

Walking with Devils 197

Pt. 4 Alfred Wallace in the Amazon and South-East Asia, 1848-66

A Socialist in the Amazon 221

The Law of the Jungle 245

Boats, Birds and Peoples of Paradise 268

Pt. 5 The Armada at War, 1859-82

Taking Soundings 293

S.O.S. 317

Battle 339

Epilogue: A Pension for a Captain 363

Notes 374

Bibliography 396

Acknowledgements 403

Index 406

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An excellent adventure -- you must join up!

    This book recounts the important voyages which shaped Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Wallace and subsequently how these men became important champions of Darwin's theory of organic evolution. McCalman writes well summarizing the historical details and experiences that shaped their lives and thoughts and ultimately brought them into deep friendship. A book not to be put down until the whole is read. Highly recommended.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    provides context and adds human interest

    Professor McCalman fills out the portrait of Darwin by exploring the voyages of discovery undertaken by the great man's "lieutenants." While Hooker, Huxley and Wallace were first-rate scientists in their own right, history remembers them primarily as defenders of Darwin's theory of natural selection. The personalities of each man emerge in McCalman's thoughtful and appreciative treatment. While Darwin indeed directed the post-1860 assault on the bastion of creationism, he served as a director of this fine group, not as a dictator. The reader is left with a more fulsome and nuanced picture of Darwin, as well as, new insight into the cultural and political aspects of science.

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    Posted November 28, 2009

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