In 44 chapters with copious notes and massive details, Darwin scholars Desmond and Moore give a rich portrait of the gentleman naturalist and scientific theorist from a sociocultural framework emphasizing Whig-Tory conflicts and Lyellian-Malthusian speculations. The authors reveal that Darwin was particularly influenced by the evolutionary ideas of zoologist Robert Grant; the implications of fossil Argentine megatheriums, speciated Galapagos mockingbirds, and the incredible varieties of barnacles; as well as experimentation with cultivated plants and animals. Despite a doting wife, loyal friends, and belated honors (though he was never knighted), Darwin's life was filled with illness, disappointment, and tragedy (especially the death of daughter Annie at age ten). This impressive volume makes clear that Darwin suffered from a lifelong schizoid struggle between his own materialist science and a late-Victorian theology. For a deeper examination of Darwin's sickness, read John Bowlby's Charles Darwin ( LJ 3/1/91) and Ralph Colp's To Be an Invalid ( LJ 6/1/77). Darwin's final written thoughts on religion are found in Nora Barlow's indispensable The Autobiography of Charles Darwin (1959). Essential reading for evolutionists, Desmond and Moore's monumental work is highly recommended for all academic libraries. BOMC, History Book Club, and Quality Paperback Book Club alternate selections.-- H. James Birx, Canisius Coll., Buffalo, N.Y.
First published in Great Britain by Penguin Books Ltd. A bestseller and book club selection. Written by two authorities on Darwin, creationism, and the social context of Victorian evolution. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)