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The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution | [David Quammen]

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution

In September 1838, a young Englishman named Charles Darwin hit upon the idea that "natural selection" among competing individuals would lead to wondrous adaptations and species diversity. Twenty-one years passed between that epiphany and publication of On the Origin of Species. The human drama and scientific controversy of that time constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that illuminates this cautious naturalist who sparked an intellectual revolution.
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Publisher's Summary

In September 1838, a young Englishman named Charles Darwin hit upon the idea that "natural selection" among competing individuals would lead to wondrous adaptations and species diversity. Twenty-one years passed between that epiphany and publication of On the Origin of Species. The human drama and scientific controversy of that time constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that illuminates this cautious naturalist who sparked an intellectual revolution.

Drawing from Darwin's secret notebooks and personal letters, David Quammen has sketched a vivid life portrait of the man whose work remains controversial today.

©2006 David Quammen; (P)2006 BBC Audiobooks America

What the Critics Say

"Grover Gardner is a first-rate reader who seems genuinely to enjoy recounting the foibles of Darwin's life. An excellent general audience title." (Library Journal)
"As the author sifts through Darwin's developing insights and personality quirks...Gardner is perfectly alert to the author's subtle irony and humor....Portraying Darwin respectfully and fully aware of his stature, Quammen never loses sight of the Victorian roots that troubled Darwin all his life." (Audiofile)
"It's easy to hear why PW named Grover Gardner Narrator of the Year in '05. He uses inflection, stress, rhythm and his rich vocal range to create an easy and often amusing conversational style." (Publisher's Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (129 )
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4.3 (44 )
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4.3 (43 )
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Performance
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  •  
    J B Tipton Minneapolis, MN USA 11-06-07
    J B Tipton Minneapolis, MN USA 11-06-07 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Darwin portrait."

    This is a well-written and entertaining book. It would be a fine introduction to Darwin and the Origin of Species. Grover Gardner is the best reader of non-fiction I have heard.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lucas Austin, TX, United States 09-26-09
    Lucas Austin, TX, United States 09-26-09 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A very pleasant surprise"

    I picked this one up during one of Audible's $5 sales. I didn't know much about it but, as a science enthusiast and educator, I wanted to know more about Darwin and gave it a try. I finished it with a deeper reverence for Darwin's genius and an understanding of who he was as a human and scholar.

    I enjoyed the writer's style and appreciate the amount of research he did to help the reader understand what Darwin's contemporaries believed. It's rather a mystery to us now that Darwin conceived of natural selection and let decades pass without publishing (see Bryson's "Short History of Nearly Everything"). This book explains why Darwin delayed and helped me better understand natural selection and, as I said, Darwin's genius to conceive of it at a time when other "biologists" attributed everything to God's handiwork. Give it a try and I think you'll enjoy!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cathleen Richmond, VA, United States 08-22-09
    Cathleen Richmond, VA, United States 08-22-09 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Oddly Anachronistic Writing"

    A very interesting topic, perfect narrator, but the writing style was jarringly slangy and casual for a book about a brilliant 19th Century scientist. Still, my complaint is only severe enough to reduce my rating by one star.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    A. Sisk San Francisco 06-10-12
    A. Sisk San Francisco 06-10-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Contemplating the life and times of Darwin."
    Would you listen to The Reluctant Mr. Darwin again? Why?

    This book covers some biographical details surrounding his life and his theories, and what they meant socially and culturally at the time. Packed with fun facts and contemplation true to David Quammen's writing.


    What about Grover Gardner’s performance did you like?

    He is a good reader, unobtrusive, pleasant to listen to.


    Any additional comments?

    If you want to understand Darwin the man and how all his work came to be, read this.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Parola138 United States 12-14-10
    Parola138 United States 12-14-10 Member Since 2005

    We bite

    HELPFUL VOTES
    237
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    "what i was looking for"

    Sometimes its hit or miss with a book like this. I, however, was very pleased with the production and the writing. I thought the narrator was perfect. You have to be interested in the topic, because Darwin did not lead a very daring life. Yet I found great interest in this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Henry Rosenberg MD Englewood, NJ USA 08-14-09
    Henry Rosenberg MD Englewood, NJ USA 08-14-09 Member Since 2007
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    "Darwin's life and times"

    A great portrayal of a wonderful scientist who, using simple experiments and observations and using objective reasoning came to astonishing conclusions that although controversial have stood the test of time.
    One of the great thinkers and observers of the 19th century that changed how we see the world.
    I learned a lot.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Linda 12-08-09
    Linda 12-08-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Wealth of Information"

    Even if you don't know much about Charles Darwin or his theory of natural selection, you will enjoy this audio book. Written in a conversational tone, it traces Darwin's life from just after his time on the Beagle to the end of his life and details how he came to write what is arguably the most influential book in history on evolution. I highly recommend the book and its reader.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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