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Charles Darwin: The Power of Place (Charles Darwin #2)

4.29  ·  Rating Details  ·  403 Ratings  ·  18 Reviews

In 1858, Charles Darwin was forty-nine years old, a gentleman scientist living quietly at Down House in the Kent countryside. He was not yet a focus of debate; his "big book on species" still lay on his desk as a manuscript. For more than twenty years he had been accumulating material for it, puzzling over the questions that it raised, trying to bring it to a satisfactory
Paperback, 624 pages
Published October 5th 2003 by Princeton University Press (first published 2002)
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Community Reviews

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Aug 17, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the first volume of Darwin's biography more than the second. There are two possible reasons for this. First, I was more drawn to the stories of Darwin's youth, and his explorations while aboard the Beagle. Second, I was "Darwined out," and after 800 or more pages of dense biography, I grew weary. Whatever the case, Browne's acheivement is memorable. And he my hero.
Jun 01, 2012 Sher rated it it was amazing
Book 34 2012 Reading Challenge
This book will be one of my top books for 2012. I read Vol 1 in 2011, and Vol 2 is just as amazing, fascinating, and absorbing. The biography is a rich look into Darwin's psyche and of those closest to him - family and friends. The way of science in the 19th century is captivating and the way a rich country gentleman comes to create theories that dominate the modern mind - is also amazing. It couldn't be done today, because we require credentials, double blind studi
Jun 13, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing
Yes! I finished Volume 2. This detailed account of Darwin's writing and the conversations, arguments, and papers that ensued following The Origin of the Species is fascinating. Any one who doesn't believe in evolution should read these books (although I realize it's asking alot). The theory of evolution was not wildly accepted and was discussed and thought about..and is still being discussed.

Darwin himself is such a likable man...he loved his family and friends and tried to give credit to colle
Apr 22, 2015 Greg rated it it was amazing
A fitting second piece to Voyaging. This biography is a detailed picture of a real man, and you feel like you know something about who Darwin was at the end. Browne unflinchingly reveals Darwin's foibles and shortcomings, and gives equal credit to his excellent qualities. She also does a tremendous job of painting the context of Darwin's life for modern readers. Darwin was certainly a smart, imaginative, resourceful man, but he was also a product of his time and place. Without the good descripti ...more
Sep 24, 2013 Ben rated it it was amazing
This is quite an excellent biography. It spares no detail (it's two big volumes), but Browne does manage to weave it together into an engaging and enlightening story. By forces largely outside of Darwin's control, he found himself on the H.M.S. Beagle. He gathered a lifetimes worth of information on that trip, which he gradually formed into his theory of natural selection much later in life.

Darwin's life was a life of privilege. Preferential treatment got him on that boat. By being a member of t
Chris Leuchtenburg
Jun 16, 2012 Chris Leuchtenburg rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Second in two volume bio.

“The year which has passed has not, indeed, been marked by any of those striking discoveries which at once revolutionize, so to speak, the department of science on which they bear.” -- Thomas Bell, President of the Linnaen Society, after Darwin’s and Wallace’s papers were presented. p. 42

“Natural selection was not self-evident in nature, nor was it the kind of theory in which one could say, ‘Look here and see.’ Darwin had no crucial experiment that conclusively demonstr
Feisty Harriet
This is the second book in a 2-part biography on Darwin by Janet Browne and covers the bulk of Darwin's life and writing career, spent primarily in his country estate in Down/Downe. While meticulously researched and full of all sorts of tid-bits on the life of Darwin, his family, friends, correspondents, enemies, and colleagues, I will admit to liking the first book much more; it covered his 5-year voyage on the Beagle which was far more fascinating to read about than his 8 years researching bar ...more
Mar 24, 2014 Glenyss rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Finally finished the second volume of this excellent and scholarly biography. I wanted to understand what shaped the man that shaped the way we see the world. Now I'm really looking forward to visiting Darwin's house in Kent this June.
Jul 07, 2013 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I enjoyed this second part of Janet Browne's biography of Charles Darwin. This part covers the post-Origin period as Darwin released his theory to the world and coped with the reaction.

In some ways this volume is drier than Volume 1: it doesn't feature the travelling, the adventure and the dynamism of a young man growing up. But I liked the in-depth discussion of Darwin's health problem, and the consideration of likely causes. And I also really liked the exploration of the new scientific establ
Kevin Orrman-Rossiter
Review on it's way.
Jun 25, 2012 Andi rated it it was amazing
Amazing. I stayed up late to finally finish this book. (I was NOT looking forward to the end. SPOILER ALERT: he dies.) I'm too tired (and a little sad) to write more than this: I can't imagine a better biography of Darwin than Janet Browne's two-parter. How on earth could anyone top this??
Jack Coleman
May 20, 2012 Jack Coleman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Tremendous trip through the late Victorian era,shining light on the
character of Darwin and many of his contemporaries in science religion
politics and the arts.
Apr 29, 2007 Ellen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is hands-down one of the best books in history of science to be published in the last decade. Highly sophisticated and highly readable.
Apr 21, 2008 John rated it it was amazing
A very satisfying biography of the man as well as the politics of science and scientific discovery in the Atlantic world of the 19th century.
Shonda Wilson
May 07, 2015 Shonda Wilson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really delves into the person Darwin, interesting glimpses into his family life and illustrates how collaborative his works were.
John Nelson
Sep 16, 2012 John Nelson rated it liked it
The story of Darwin's final years. It was OK, but not nearly as interesting as the story of Darwin's years of scientific discovery.
Aug 10, 2007 Angela rated it really liked it
Great biography of Darwin, and Browne gets deeply enough into his ideas to intrigue and satisfy a philosopher.
Nov 02, 2009 Ken rated it it was amazing
A wonderful biography to the man who challenged the - perfect - idea of creationism.

Darwin once wrote, "I never could believe that an inquisitor could be a good man, but now I know that a man may
roast another and yet have as kind and noble a heart as Sedgwick's."

Roasting one another... Indeed, they are.
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Elizabeth Janet Browne (née Bell, born 30 March 1950) is a British historian of science, known especially for her work on the history of 19th century biology. She taught at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, University College, London, before returning to Harvard. She is currently Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University
More about E. Janet Browne...

Other Books in the Series

Charles Darwin (2 books)
  • Charles Darwin: Voyaging

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