Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anne's Biography Book Review

I don't have an Amazon account, so once again, I have to post my book review here instead.

"Darwin and The Mysterious Mr. X : New Light on Evolutionists" By Loren Eisely

I would give this biography three out of five stars. Eisely devides his work into three distinct parts. The first part enititled "Dancers in the Ring" makes up the majority of the book, and is by far the most enjoyable, interesting and well written section of the enitre book. Eiseley discusses the intertwined lives of Darwin, Wallace, Lyell and Blyth. Eiseley uses rich and beautiful pros to present a vivid picture of the time period and ultimately present the idea that Darwin, although a famous name does not deserve all the credit for his theory. At the same time though, Eiseley respects the ingenuity of Darwin. At one point Eiseley makes the point that Darwin is afterall, a human too. Expanding on this idea, Eiseley carefully offers evidence for the fact that Darwin may not have cited those who influenced him in regards to his actual theory. Compelling evidence and connections between Edward Blyth's papers and those of Darwin make for an intriguing, although controversial arguement.

The next section is simply a compillation of documentary evidence taken from primary sources. Written by Blyth, the text reads like a text book and is filled with lists of obscure species and terms. I would recommend skipping this section and picking the novel up again for section three. The next section describes the life of Edward Blyth, and it is interesting in light of the many connections between the two men. The final section deals with the treatment of man in all of the evolutionary discussion during Darwin's time. Eiseley focuses on Darwin, but also on the historical threads of the time that influenced him in his writing of "The Descent of Man". He describes the discovery of the Neanderthal skull and the debates that insued. He also describes the religious views that influenced the many ideas of the time. Overall, "Darwin and The Mysterious Mr. X" is an intriguing read and I would recommend it to anybody interested in Darwin or the history of science at the time.

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