Cover image for Charles Darwin : the life of a revolutionary thinker
Title:
Charles Darwin : the life of a revolutionary thinker
Author:
Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Holiday House, [2001]

©2001
Physical Description:
144 pages : illustrations, map ; 27 cm
Language:
English
Reading Level:
1110 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 9.1 6.0 53470.

Reading Counts RC 6-8 9 10 Quiz: 26045 Guided reading level: Z.
ISBN:
9780823414949
Format :
Book

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QH31.D2 P38 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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Summary

Summary

Patent debunks several commonly held beliefs about Darwin as she explores the life of the young man, "ill suited to education," who would turn the world of science upside down. A poor student, Darwin preferred hunting to scholarship, and he drifted from medicine to the clergy in search of a suitable career. He satisfied his personal curiosity by taking geology and botany courses, and it was a geology connection that led him to board the Beagle. Patent recounts his momentous four-year journey, noting that it was not some epiphany in the Galapagos that led to his theory of natural selection. Rather, he came to it slowly, after returning home and applying other scientists' ideas about biological adaptation to his firsthand observations. Throughout, the author balances the man as scientist with the man as devoted husband and father, building a blended portrait of an individual who let his observations shape his beliefs instead of the other way around. Numerous black-and-white photographs and illustrations add visual appeal, and a chronology, a map, notes, and a glossary are appended.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 7-12. Patent debunks several commonly held beliefs about Darwin as she explores the life of the young man, "ill suited to education," who would turn the world of science upside down. A poor student, Darwin preferred hunting to scholarship, and he drifted from medicine to the clergy in search of a suitable career. He satisfied his personal curiosity by taking geology and botany courses, and it was a geology connection that led him to board the Beagle. Patent recounts his momentous four-year journey, noting that it was not some epiphany in the Galapagos that led to his theory of natural selection. Rather, he came to it slowly, after returning home and applying other scientists' ideas about biological adaptation to his firsthand observations. Throughout, the author balances the man as scientist with the man as devoted husband and father, building a blended portrait of an individual who let his observations shape his beliefs instead of the other way around. Numerous black-and-white photographs and illustrations add visual appeal, and a chronology, a map, notes, and a glossary are appended. --Randy Meyer


Publisher's Weekly Review

This thoroughly researched but clinical biography presents the life and theories of one of history's most innovative and influential scientists. Patent (Prairie; Biodiversity), a trained scientist, excels when dissecting Darwin's experiments and thought processes, and her analysis is clear and passionate. But elsewhere, the writing becomes labored (e.g., a commentary on the dress code at Cambridge, a convoluted discussion of the scientist's early questionnaires) and distracts from Darwin's groundbreaking work and approach. The volume begins on a strong note with a prologue that connects the challenges of curing the modern common cold and AIDS (due to their evolving nature) with Darwin's theory of natural selection; in this way, Patent makes Darwin's work immediately relevant for contemporary readers. She also debunks several popular myths regarding Darwin, including the legend that he formulated his theory of evolution in its entirety during his five-year journey as naturalist aboard the Beagle; in truth he devoted an additional 26 years after his journey to scientific observation before publishing The Origin of Species in 1859. While the text conveys chronological details regarding Darwin's personal life (his wife, children, tragedies and friendships), it rarely captures the relationships or passions of the man, nor the mood of the era. Ages 10-up. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


School Library Journal Review

Gr 6 Up-These are heady days in genetic science, and this sober, penetrating life of the man who, more than any other, got that particular ball rolling presents convincing evidence of his genius. Drawing from published sources as well as the thousands of letters Darwin left behind, Patent creates a vivid picture of the man as a gregarious, loving father, beset by ill health for most of his life, as well as a probing thinker, careful observer, and gifted writer. Sometimes Darwin's woes verge on comedy; strongly susceptible to seasickness, he actually spent all but 18 months of the Beagle's nearly 5-year voyage on land. Patent keeps her focus close to the man, only hinting at the popular furor engendered by Origin of Species, but describing in detail not only how Darwin developed his theories, but also how carefully he laid the groundwork for them within the scientific community, and how they influenced his subsequent research. She closes with a map of the Beagle's journey; lists of prominent contemporary scientists; and print, electronic, and Internet resources-all of which at least help to compensate for the dim, scanty photos and prints. Readers with an interest in the idea that has become "the most powerful tool we have in understanding how the living world works" will find this a rewarding account of its origins. Steer readers wishing to trace the theory of evolution's course up to the present to the final chapters of Rebecca Stefoff's Charles Darwin and the Evolution Revolution (Oxford, 1998).-John Peters, New York Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.