Friday, December 1, 2017

Book Review: Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull

Charles Darwin
Author: Kathleen Krull
Series: Giants of Science
Publication: Viking Books for Young Readers (October 14, 2010)

Description: All his life, Charles Darwin hated controversy. Yet he takes his place among the Giants of Science for what remains an immensely controversial subject: the theory of evolution. Darwin began piecing together his explanation for how all living things change or adapt during his five-year voyage on HMS Beagle. But it took him twenty years to go public, for fear of the backlash his theory would cause. Once again, Kathleen Krull delivers a witty and astute picture of one of history's greatest scientists.

My Thoughts: Charles Darwin was a fascinating man. Born rich, he had time to follow his interests and spent years studying nature. After abandoning a potential career in medicine (because he couldn't stand the sight of blood), Darwin was offered the position of gentleman naturalist on the Beagle and spent almost five years traveling around the world and collecting specimens of plants and animals. Despite a ferocious seasickness that never went away, Darwin took thousands of pages of notes about his observations.

When he returned to England, he spent years going through and studying his specimens and coming up with proof of the theory of evolution. The theory was not new; his grandfather had proposed a variation on it. What Darwin did was provide all sorts of evidence to support his theory.

Being a non-confrontational sort of person and plagued with a variety of illnesses, Darwin sat on his research and continually improved it for years before publishing his masterwork On the Origin of Species. It sold well in part because it was written in a way that the average educated reader could understand it and in part because the time was right in Victorian England for that kind of work.

After publication, he took sort of a backseat and let his "cheerleaders" - other prominent scientists who agreed with his theory - do the publicizing. Darwin turned his attention to other scientific studies - barnacles, orchids, and worms, among them - where he could put his keen sense of observation to work.

This was an engaging story about an intriguing man and a theory that has changed science and is still changing it today.

Favorite Quote:
"At last gleams of light have come," he wrote in 1844 in a famous letter to his friend Joseph Hooker, "and I am almost convinced (quite contrary to opinion I started with) that species are not (it is like confessing a murder) immutable...I think I have found out (here's a presumption!) the simple way by which species become exquisitely adapted to various ends."
I bought this one April 16, 2013. You can buy your copy here.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you kindly, Ms. Martin. Will post this to Facebook next week!


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