Voyage of the Beagle

Voyage of the Beagle

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by Charles Darwin
     
 

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Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection has been debated and disparaged over time, but there is no dispute that he is responsible for some of the most remarkable and groundbreaking scientific findings in history. His five-year trip as a naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle took him on a journey to such exotic locales as Chile, Argentina, and the

Overview

Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and natural selection has been debated and disparaged over time, but there is no dispute that he is responsible for some of the most remarkable and groundbreaking scientific findings in history. His five-year trip as a naturalist on the H.M.S. Beagle took him on a journey to such exotic locales as Chile, Argentina, and the Galapagos Islands. Darwin wrote the details of this expedition, including his thoughts about the people on the ship and of course, his observations of the flora and fauna, in his journal, published as Voyage of the Beagle. It is here that his original interpretations of the Galapagos ecosystem and the impact of nature and selection are first revealed.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
This precursor to On the Origin of Species is a fascinating work on its own merits. Originally published in 1839 and alternately known as Journal and Remarks and Journal of Researches, it documents Darwin's second survey expedition aboard the H.M.S. Beagle and provides a more personal view of Darwin than do his later works. The selections chosen for this abridgment by Isabel Morgan—with Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), who also narrates—relate more to people and cultures than to species, which will surprise many listeners. Dawkins reads in a manner pleasing to the ear and suitable to the subject matter. Coming on the heels of the 2009 bicentennial celebration of Darwin's birth (see "Charles Darwin at 200," LJ 12/08), this title is highly recommended for those libraries not already owning a copy. [An alternate, unabridged recording, read by David Case, is available from Tantor Audio.—Ed.]—Gloria Maxwell, Metropolitan Community Coll.-Penn Valley Lib., Kansas City, MO

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781426201783
Publisher:
National Geographic Society
Publication date:
11/28/2006
Sold by:
Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
684,665
File size:
2 MB

Read an Excerpt

Charles Darwin, at age 22, had by 1831 rejected careers in both medicine and the clergy when he was offered the position of naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle, a 90-foot sloop charged with charting South American waters. He was not the first choice for the job. His father stood in his way. Even the ship's captain was uncertain about him. Yet he made it onto the Beagle, and this five year voyage, he later wrote, was the most important event of his life and shaped his entire career.

This was a return trip to South America for the Beagle and Darwin left the placid landscape of England to journey to a land of dynamic terrain: high mountains, earthquakes, volcanoes, strange coastlines and even stranger animals and fossils:

"Everything in this southern continent has been effected on a grand scale: the land, from the Rio Plata to Tierra del Fuego, a distance of 1,200 miles, has been raised in mass...What a history of geological changes does the simply-constructed coast of Patagonia reveal!...At Port St. Julian , in some red mud capping the gravel on the 90-feet plain, I found half the skeleton of the Macrauchenia Patachonica, a remarkable quadruped, full as large as a camel. It belongs to the same division of the Pachydermata with the rhinoceros, tapir, and palaeotherium; but in the structure of the bones of its long neck it shows a clear relation to the camel, or rather to the guanaco and llama. From recent sea-shells being found on two of the higher step-formed plains, which must have been modelled and upraised before the mud was deposited in which the Macrauchenia was entombed, it is certain that this curious quadruped lived long after the sea was inhabited by its present shells."

Darwin spent thousands of hours making observations, collecting specimens, and recording data. He went ashore all along the South American coasts, often riding horseback into the interior in order to collect more data, and he also includes his observations about the people whom he met there, from army generals to local Indians. And of course, he visited the now famous Galapagos Archipelago, the 10 islands formed by volcanic action where Darwin noticed that several species of finches existed, with beak shapes that were vastly different. He thought deeply about the comment made by the vice-governor that there were many different varieties of tortoises to be found on the island, and came to the conclusions about evolution he later elaborated upon in his Origin of Species:

"It was most striking to be surrounded by new birds, new reptiles, new shells, new insects, new plants, and yet by innumerable trifling details of structure, and even by the tones of voice and plumage of the birds, to have the temperate plains of Patagonia, or rather the hot dry deserts of Northern Chile, vividly brought before my eyes. Why, on these small points of land, which within a late geological period must have been covered by the ocean, which are formed by basaltic lava, and therefore differ in geological character from the American continent, and which are placed under a peculiar climate, - why were their aboriginal inhabitants, associated, I may add, in different proportions both in kind and number from those on the continent, and therefore acting on each other in a different manner - why were they created on American types of organization?"

The Beagle went back to England via Australia and New Zealand, and Darwin continued to collect specimens there as well. He left England as student with a keen and open mind; he returned an experienced scientist with definite ideas about the workings of nature, and raw data to substantiate his theories. He would go on of course to refine them and publish On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, that famous and still controversial book. The direction of Darwin's thought is clearly evident in The Voyage of the HMS Beagle, as well as his exuberance. This is the second edition of the book, originally published in 1845. Fascinating reading from a truly original mind!

Meet the Author

Charles Darwin’s (1809-1882) love of natural history led him to the Beagle. Twenty years after his voyage, his landmark work On the Origin of Species sparked immediate controversy and has continued to do so for 150 years. David Quammen is an acclaimed natural history writer and the author of The Song of the Dodo and The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, in addition to nearly a dozen other books.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
February 12, 1809
Date of Death:
April 19, 1882
Place of Birth:
Shrewsbury, England
Place of Death:
London, England
Education:
B.A. in Theology, Christ¿s College, Cambridge University, 1831

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The Voyage of the Beagle 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Shadowman More than 1 year ago
I'm a travel writing reader, I work in medicine, and I love a well-written essay. Mr. Darwin has managed to achieve 5 stars in each category in my book. His inquisitive mind and keen observations of flora and fauna make fascinating science reading. His recounting of travels inland, notes on how the people lived, what they ate, what the land was like, provide insights to a time long lost of places I'll probably never see. And his ability to bend the written word to express wonder and amazement at what he experiences at times rivals the best nature writing I've ever come across. This is one of those few books I felt sad to finish, but glad I found at all and elated to have in my library. 5-stars all the way around.
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