Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin

Victorian Mythmaker

Book - 2017 | First U.S. edition.
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A radical reappraisal of Charles Darwin from the bestselling author of Victoria: A Life.

With the publication of On the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin--hailed as the man who "discovered evolution"--was propelled into the pantheon of great scientific thinkers, alongside Galileo, Copernicus, and Newton. Eminent writer A. N. Wilson challenges this long-held assumption. Contextualizing Darwin and his ideas, he offers a groundbreaking critical look at this revered figure in modern science.

In this beautifully written, deeply erudite portrait, Wilson argues that Darwin was not an original scientific thinker, but a ruthless and determined self-promoter who did not credit the many great sages whose ideas he advanced in his book. Furthermore, Wilson contends that religion and Darwinism have much more in common than it would seem, for the acceptance of Darwin's theory involves a pretty significant leap of faith.

Armed with an extraordinary breadth of knowledge, Wilson explores how Darwin and his theory were very much a product of their place and time. The "Survival of the Fittest" was really the Survival of Middle Class families like the Darwins--members of a relatively new economic strata who benefited from the rising Industrial Revolution at the expense of the working classes. Following Darwin's theory, the wretched state of the poor was an outcome of nature, not the greed and neglect of the moneyed classes. In a paradigm-shifting conclusion, Wilson suggests that it remains to be seen, as this class dies out, whether the Darwinian idea will survive, or whether it, like other Victorian fads, will become a footnote in our intellectual history.

Brilliant, daring, and ambitious, Charles Darwin explores this legendary man as never before, and challenges us to reconsider our understanding of both Darwin and modern science itself.

Publisher: New York, NY :, Harper,, [2017]
Edition: First U.S. edition.
Copyright Date: ©2017
ISBN: 9780062433497
Characteristics: 438 pages : illustrations (some color)


From the critics

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Jan 03, 2018

Look at “The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs, ... the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, ...” published 1842, for which the Royal Society awarded him the Royal medal in 1853, six years before he published “On the Origin of Species ...”
His coral reef theory remains the foundation of that field of geology, Contrary to the publisher’s sensational promotional blurb, Darwin was already “propelled into the pantheon of great scientific thinkers” before “Origin”.
for some recommended legitimate biographies of Charles Darwin:
“Charles Darwin: Voyaging” Volume 1 1995
“Charles Darwin: the Power of Place” Volume 2 2002
by E. Janet Browne 1950-
(Aramont Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University)
“Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist” 1994
“Darwin's Sacred Cause: How a Hatred of Slavery Shaped Darwin's Views on Human Evolution”
both by authors Adrian J. Desmond 1947- and
James Richard Moore (historian of science at the Open University and the University of Cambridge and visiting scholar at Harvard University)
my shared list:
"Charles Darwin discovering natural selection - origin of species - evolution - deep time"
another review:'s_work
“Wilson's "speculations on evolutionary theory," produce a book that is "fatally flawed, mischievous, and ultimately misleading” Steve Jones

Jan 02, 2018

Only read 3 chapters and I had to stop. Extremely dry writing. Seems to be more about Darwin's contemporaries than himself. Very disappointing.

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