Regular price: $20.97

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

"Grover Gardner’s reading pulses with the excitement of Quammen’s quest. As the author sifts through Darwin’s developing insights and personality quirks...Gardner is perfectly alert to the author’s subtle irony and humor..." (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." (Publishers Weekly

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    88
  • 4 Stars
    70
  • 3 Stars
    24
  • 2 Stars
    6
  • 1 Stars
    2

Performance

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    62
  • 4 Stars
    22
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    58
  • 4 Stars
    30
  • 3 Stars
    9
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    0
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Lucas
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 09-26-09

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!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

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.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cate F.
  • Richmond, VA USA
  • 08-22-09

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

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

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Short but Excellent!

Wonderful for such a short audiobook and brilliantly narrated. Filled with relevant personal information and evaluation of historical significance. Does not shy away from criticism for an appropriately revered but complex man.

Narration was excellently paced and engaging. I found the author to add scientific background, social and cultural significance, and humor in a perfect mix! Highly recommended

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A paranoid gentle honest man.

Well written and well narrated book. The general intellectual environment is well described. Not too detailed and mentioned main points very well. It however had a bit too much of the author's opinions. Overall an enjoyable listen.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

chapter 23 and 24 are the same text

Audible chapter 23 is repeated as chapter 24, but great book otherwise. I highly recommend it.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Worth the read

If you are remotely a fan of Darwin or evolutionary biology, then you will enjoy this book. I've had a bit too much education on both subjects and the things covered in the book are both consistent with what I know, and expand on what I know. Very well written.