Darwin's Century: Evolution and the Men Who Discovered It (Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series)

Overview

The theory of evolution did not develop in the mind of Charles Darwin alone; it was the result of the observations and thinking of many others—some preceding Darwin and some contemporary with him. In writing of evolution and the men who contributed to its enunciation as a reasonable proposition, Loren Eiseley produced this distinguished work. Originally published in 1958—the year before the centennial of the publication of On the Origin of Species—it won the 1959 Phi Beta Kappa ...

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Overview

The theory of evolution did not develop in the mind of Charles Darwin alone; it was the result of the observations and thinking of many others—some preceding Darwin and some contemporary with him. In writing of evolution and the men who contributed to its enunciation as a reasonable proposition, Loren Eiseley produced this distinguished work. Originally published in 1958—the year before the centennial of the publication of On the Origin of Species—it won the 1959 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science.

Darwin’s Century contains the first recognition of the relationship between the nonprogressionist biological philosophy of Sir Charles Lyell and the geological doctrine of uniformitarianism. It throws new light on the reasons why Lyell came so infinitesimally close to Darwin’s views without taking the last step—the recognition of the significance of natural selection. It also gives extended attention to the obstacles that forced Darwin to retreat toward Lamarckianism in later life.

Further on, Darwin’s Century details the assault upon geological time—little studied before Eiseley took it up—by the physicists of the latter half of the nineteenth century and shows the indirect effect of physics upon genetics at the close of that century. It also reveals certain modes of thought which marred the search for the human ancestor during the same period. Finally, it puts in perspective the clash between Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace over the facts of human evolution and Wallace’s contribution to the field, which was less clearly apparent half a century ago.

Darwin’s Century is less a biography of individuals than the story of how humanity came, by degrees, to accept an idea which had been foreshadowed two centuries earlier. With its heroes, villains, and clues, Eiseley’s book incorporates many of the virtues of a suspenseful mystery story, while at the same time providing the facts and careful analysis.

Praise for Darwin’s Century:

“Anyone interested in Darwin’s great masterpiece…should read Mr. Eiseley’s book.”— William Irvine, author of Apes, Angels, and Victorians

“An insightful and beautifully written contribution to the history of science.”Pat Shipman, The New York Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781435107922
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 5/25/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Rediscovers Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Loren Eiseley (1907–1977) was born in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1937 he received his doctorate in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, returning a decade later to chair that department. By the time of his death, he had received thirty-six honorary degrees—the most honored member of the University of Pennsylvania since Benjamin Franklin. Darwin’s Century earned the 1959 Phi Beta Kappa Award in Science.

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