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Huxley: From Devil's Disciple To Evolution's High Priest (Huxley: From Devil's Disciple To High Priest)

4.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  41 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
T. H. Huxley (1825–1895) was Darwin’s bloody-fanged bulldog. His giant scything intellect shook a prim Victorian society; his “Devil’s gospel” of evolution outraged. He put “agnostic” into the vocabulary and cave men into the public consciousness. Adrian Desmond’s fiery biography with its panoramic view of Dickensian life explains how this agent provocateur rose to become ...more
Paperback, 848 pages
Published March 31st 1999 by Basic Books (first published January 1st 1995)
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Eric_W
Dec 06, 2009 Eric_W rated it it was amazing
Darwin said of Thomas Huxley: “My good and kind agent for the propagation of the Gospels, i.e. the Devil’s gospel.” Huxley was known for lunging (figuratively) at his opponents. He was Darwin’s Rottweiler. No one stirred passions like Thomas Henry Huxley. Adrian Desmond (Darwin’s biographer) has written an absolutely fascinating biography of this man. “Huxley was one of the founders of the skeptical scientific twentieth century. We owe to him that enduring military metaphor, the ‘war’ of science ...more
Dan
Dec 22, 2015 Dan rated it liked it
"Huxley: From Devil’s Disciple to Evolution’s Hight Priest" is a lengthy biography of Thomas Henry Huxley by Adrian Desmond. It might be more accurate to say it is a history of his time, 1825-1895, concentrating on the development of science in England, for which which he had to battle against the entrenched and incestuous counter-forces of class, politics, universities and state-sponsored religion.

It was Huxley who coined the word "agnostic" to characterize his views. Before that, there wasn’t
...more
Angelina
Jan 31, 2010 Angelina rated it really liked it
Thomas H. Huxley, grandfather of Aldous and Julian, was not born into wealth like Darwin and other scientists of his day. He struggled through medical school but was financially unable to continue his studies to become a surgeon. He signed on as assitant surgeon on a ship which was to advance the scope of the British Empire in the fields of biology, charting unmapped areas the Empire wanted to grasp. The sea voyages were most interesting to me. Huxley studied all invertebrates he could discover ...more
John
Mar 23, 2010 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: western-culture
It would be very difficult to exaggerate the importance of this biography. As an example of a particular approach to the history of science, that is, the social origins of scientific ideas, the work is emminently successful. As an example of cultural history, specifically the intellectual and cultural history of Victorian England, the book is extraordinarily illuminating. As social history, an account of the formation and rise to influence and power in many domains of "scientists," the book has ...more
Olivier Lepetit
Jul 24, 2011 Olivier Lepetit rated it it was ok
Blimey what a book - 625 odd pages about the life (in context) of someone I had no idea existed. (Actually I found out in the book that he was Aldous Huxley's grandfather).

In a nutshell, TH Huxley was Darwin's bulldog and did more for the place of science in everyday life than anyone else before. The book starts well with the biography and the making of this popular scientist/agnostic (he coined the word) from the 19th century. The voyage to Australia is fascinating - the return to England and t
...more
Emily
Apr 16, 2007 Emily rated it really liked it
An incredibly gripping story of a fascinating man whose reputation hides behind that of his contemporary, Charles Darwin. The man who coined the term "agnostic," the story of the love of his life, and the revolutionary philosophical changes he brought to the world by means of his study of anatomy are absolutely worthy of the interested mind. A bit long in the end, but you will love the man behind the theories.
Heather
Dec 18, 2009 Heather rated it really liked it
A fascinating biography that chronicles the era of Darwin's theoretical emergence and Huxley's role in the theory's promotion. The beginning shows the adventurous nature of the scientific ocean voyages and ends with the socio-political consequences of all this scientific work.
Lorraine
Sep 17, 2012 Lorraine rated it it was amazing
Years ago, I thought reading the two-volume biography of Darwin by Janet Browne was riveting. Huxley by Adrian Desmond was more so.
Eric
Apr 18, 2012 Eric rated it really liked it
A great biography of an underappreciated thinker.
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Goodreads Librari...: Malcombined book 3 11 May 16, 2015 04:18AM  
Adrian John Desmond (born 1947) is an English writer on the history of science.

He studied physiology at University College, London, and went on to study history of science and vertebrate palaeontology at University College London before researching the history of vertebrate palaeontology at Harvard University, under Stephen Jay Gould. He was awarded a PhD in the area of the Victorian-period contex
...more
More about Adrian J. Desmond...

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