Darwin

Darwin

Portrait of A Genius

Book - 2012
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Penguin Putnam
Eminent historian Paul Johnson provides a rich, succinct portrait of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is arguably the most influential scientist of all time. His Origin of Species forever changed our concept of the world’s creation.

Darwin’s revolutionary career is the perfect vehicle for historian Paul Johnson. Marked by the insightful observation, spectacular wit, and highly readable prose for which Johnson is so well regarded, Darwin brings the gentleman-scientist and his times brilliantly into focus. From Darwin’s birth into great fortune to his voyage aboard the Beagle, to the long-delayed publication of his masterpiece, Johnson delves into what made this Victorian gentleman into a visionary scientist—and into the tragic flaws that later led Darwin to support the burgeoning eugenics movement.

Johnson’s many admirers as well as history and science buffs will be grateful for this superb account of Darwin and the everlasting impact of his discoveries.


Baker & Taylor
Darwin{u2019}s revolutionary career is the perfect vehicle for historian Paul Johnson. Marked by the insightful observation, spectacular wit, and highly readable prose for which Johnson is so well regarded, Darwin brings the gentleman-scientist and his times brilliantly into focus. From Darwin{u2019}s birth into great fortune to his voyage aboard the Beagle, to the long-delayed publication of his masterpiece, Johnson delves into what made this Victorian gentleman into a visionary scientist{u2014}and intothe tragic flaws that later led Darwin to support the burgeoning eugenics movement.

Book News
This light biography of Charles Darwin is by British popular historian Paul Johnson. Like Steven Jay Gould, Johnson writes in an opinionated style, likes to debunk authority figures, and knows how to exaggerate for effect. Johnson lacks Gould's passion for justice and his knowledge of science, both problems for the book's central argument: that Darwin was a sloppy scientist who created racism through his ignorance of anthropology. Unfortunately, Darwin was ignorant of anthropology because it didn't exist at the time. The realities of 200 years ago are not mentioned here: child labor and malnutrition distorted brains and bodies along class and ethnic lines, modern medicine didn't exist, and most anti-evolutionists believed non-Europeans were non-human apes or monkeys. In science, genetics was unknown, and social and biological science was one field. Johnson relabels all these historical facts as personality traits and personal failures of Charles Darwin. If Darwin were really so smart, and not a racist, the author argues, you'd never know such things from reading his work. The book's banner claim is that Darwin was the architect of imperialism and personally responsible for Social Darwinism. As a historian, Johnson presumably knows better and is just having fun. But readers who believe him will tend to conclude that racism was personally invented by Charles Darwin. (The author admits in passing that the peddlers of the prejudices later named after Darwin were busy peddling well before Darwin wrote.) Johnson's approach may seem an innocent amusement in the UK, a kind of saint-tipping. In the US, bitter wars over evolution can make the book read as exploiting race in the service of anti-science politics. The book will not help readers understand Darwin or the very real problem of scientific prejudice, but as an exercise in shooting haloes, readers who can ignore the politics may find it fun. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Baker
& Taylor

Recounts the life and career of the evolutionary scientist that places his achievements against a backdrop of his time and covers such topics as his voyage aboard the Beagle and the long-delayed publication of "Origin of Species."
The author of Socrates: A Man for Our Times presents a richly detailed account of the life and career of the evolutionary scientist that places his achievements against a backdrop of his time and includes coverage of such topics as his voyage aboard the Beagle and the long-delayed publication of Origin of Species. 25,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Viking, 2012
Description: 164 p. ; 24 cm
ISBN: 9780670025718
0670025712
Branch Call Number: 576.82092 Dar
Additional Contributors: Johnson, Paul 1928-

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n
naturalist
Jun 11, 2014

Might the author have a bias, considering that he also wrote:
“Jesus : a Biography From a Believer” (2010),
and
“The Quest for God ; a Personal Pilgrimage” (1996) ?
suggested further reading:
“The Reluctant Mr. Darwin : an Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution”
by David Quammen (2006) and
“Darwin : Discovering the Tree of Life”
by Niles Eldredge (2005) ...... and ......
“The Genius of Charles Darwin” DVD 2009
by Richard Dawkins
“Darwin : The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist” ... by Adrian Desmond .. and .James Moore
and
“Charles Darwin : a Biography, Volume 1 – Voyaging” 1995
and
"Charles Darwin : a Biography, Volume 2 – The Power of Place” 2003
both by .. Janet Browne ... ( more about Janet Browne ... http://www.fas.harvard.edu/~hsdept/bios/browne.html ...)

mmemouse May 17, 2013

In the strictest sense, this little volume [only 164 pages] isn’t really a biography. In the first half of the book, Johnson gives us a close-up of Darwin the scholar, researcher, scientist, and family man. The portrait isn’t entirely favorable. Johnson takes issue with Darwin as a Victorian ‘polymath’, studying various fields of endeavor, but becoming master of few.

By the 2nd half of the book, the reader realizes that Johnson has little sympathy for Darwin’s “loss of religion” and censures him scathingly. Johnson even links Darwin’s theory of evolution to the rise of Social Darwinism, leading into his cousin’s development of the pseudo-science of eugenics. Johnson blames Darwin’s ‘flawed’ theories for many of the 20th century’s social horrors, including Hitler’s program of a master race, Pol Pot’s genocide, Mao Tse-Tung’s rise, Stalin’s purges, and more. NOT recommended by this librarian.

ChristchurchLib Feb 19, 2013

"The author of Socrates: A Man for Our Times presents a richly detailed account of the life and career of the evolutionary scientist that places his achievements against a backdrop of his time and includes coverage of such topics as his voyage aboard the Beagle and the long-delayed publication of Origin of Species." February 2013 Biography and Memoir newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=602836

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