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On the Origin of Species

I just completed the very brief book by Janet Browne called Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography. She basically gives a brief outline of Darwin’s life but focuses most of the book on the actual publication and resulting controversy of Darwin’s seminal work.

I thought she did an excellent job showing the political, religious and social impact that Darwin’s work had on not only Victorian life but on the scientific community at large. I greatly appreciate how she did not shy away from the way in which Darwin’s work (and Darwin to a lesser extent) influenced many social policies particularly eugenics, the subjugation/genocide of “primitive” cultures and anti-poor laws that were popular. To many Darwin’s natural selection provided a biological justification for many of these social policies.

I thought she did an excellent job of showing that Darwinian evolution for the most part was the dominant theory in biology until the early 20th century but had fallen out of favor until it’s resurgence with what is now called “the modern synthesis”.

I had read a biography on Darwin recently that spent most of its time talking specifically about Darwin, this book in contrast is a biography of his book, On the Origin of Species.

 Check out what else I’m reading over at Brain Food.

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Filed under: Evolution, Reviews, ,

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