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The Heretic in Darwin's Court: The Life of Alfred Russel Wallace
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The Heretic in Darwin's Court: The Life of Alfred Russel Wallace

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  16 ratings  ·  4 reviews
During their lifetimes, Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin shared credit and fame for the independent and near-simultaneous discovery of natural selection. Together, the two men spearheaded one of the greatest intellectual revolutions in modern history, and their rivalry, usually amicable but occasionally acrimonious, forged modern evolutionary theory. Yet today, few ...more
Paperback, 602 pages
Published March 1st 2006 by Columbia University Press (first published June 23rd 2004)
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Steve Van Slyke
Apr 13, 2012 Steve Van Slyke rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Those interested in the history of evolutionary theory
Shelves: history, kindle, science
Right from the beginning you know you are in for a treat because the author writes so smoothly and vividly that you almost don't care what he's saying, but the story is fascinating as well.

After weaving through the tumultuous events that shaped young Wallace's life, we find ourselves on a great journey to Brazil to collect specimens. The conditions that he faced, the people he met, and the places he visited were all interesting and in many cases horrifying. The conclusion of this adventure is so
A highly accessible treatment of one of science's most enigmatic figures.

Well-researched without being dry, Slotten's biography excels because he writes well and never loses sight of the big picture. He often fits Wallace's endeavours in with his family background, the social and political culture of the time, and the turmoil engulfing the sciences in 19th century England as they threatened to dislodge religious doctrine.

I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I had read about Wallace's expedition through Indonesia and found the story fascinating, so I was really eager to read this book. And I was not disappointed. His life was amazing, even the part about his obsession with spiritualism. The book explains really well what was going on between Darwin and Wallace and their differing points of view on the origin of species.
OK, this guy sends Darwin a little treatise about natural selection from the Malay jungle three years before Darwin publishes his own famous paper. It's never made clear whether or not Darwin stole the idea from Wallace, but this is a really fascinating book about an incredibly fascinating man.
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