From Darwin to Dawkins: A Book Review of Edward Larson’s “Evolution”

Edward Larson’s book, Evolution (Random House, 2004), is scientific, intellectual, and social history at its very best.

The author seamlessly weaves:

  1. 1. basic recountings of the SCIENCE undergirding evolution,
  2. the BIOGRAPHIES of the scientists making contributions to evolutionary science, 
  3. and the social CONTROVERSIES generated by evolution in the society at large (as in the areas of teaching creationism in the schools and practicing eugenics to make “improved” humans).

The narrative thus flows holistically, giving the reader a vista from which to think about how people have reflected upon, as well as reacted to, the discovery that the earth is old and plants and animals—including the human animal—have changed, by natural selection, over time.

Given that 2009 marks Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday, as well as the 150th year since his Origin of Species was first published, Larson’s book makes for timely reading.

The book can be found at Amazon here.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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1 Response to From Darwin to Dawkins: A Book Review of Edward Larson’s “Evolution”

  1. Ken says:

    It is a fine book that presents the emergence of Darwin’s work in its Victorian context. I think it is also good to read the works of Loren Eiseley related to Darwin. The portrait of Darwin and his work that Larson presents is somewhat more flattering to Darwin. In addition, the events of history seem somewhat more orderly and progressive, and the personalities more pure and one-dimensional, than in Eiseley’s writings.

    Larson’s book Summer for the Gods is also interesting. He separates the myth from the history in the Scopes trial.

    I don’t imagine Richard Dawkins would like Larson’s writings.

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