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The Case of the Midwife Toad

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  144 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
s/t: A Scientific Mystery Revisited
During his 30-plus years of writing, Arthur Koestler has covered a wide range of modern problems from brainwashing in totalitarian societies to the conflict between science & religion &, most recently (in The Act of Creation & The Ghost in the Machine), humanity's potential capability for evolutionary development thru both nat
Paperback, 187 pages
Published April 12th 1973 by Vintage (first published 1971)
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Feb 20, 2010 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Interesting book. I liked the main theme: those who challenge the current framework are often shut down in relentless attack. These attacks are often not about the substance of the disagreement. However the diverting issues can shutdown conversation and allow the person challenging the status quo to be labeled unprofessional or questionable. Once this door is opened the argument can then be dismissed.
Sep 18, 2008 Holly rated it it was ok
Nonfiction based on the life of conflicted biologist Dr. Paul Kammerer. It's always interesting to discuss evolution theory; book was written well for a layman like myself. Some of the data in the Appendix was as interesting as the main story itself.
Erik Graff
Mar 13, 2015 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Koestler fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sciences
This is an historical science mystery concerned with the theory of evolution and the persecution and suicide of a scientist who contested it. Koestler's Roots of Coincidence is often regarded as the successor to this book.
Jul 26, 2010 Samantha rated it liked it
Shelves: science-nature
Who knew that brilliant scientists could act a lot like a bunch of high school girls?
Dec 16, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
Interesting but not compelling account of scientific controversy in pre-WWI Austria-Hungary. It is of more interest as a historical account of scientific practice prior to the rise of industrial research labs--lots of old school epistlary warfare--than as a "mystery." For the lay science enthusiast it is interesting to read of the theory of Lamarckism and he lays out the intellectual foundations of Darwinism much better than most authors in this genre. Some reflections on the state of things sti ...more
Abhilesh Dhawanjewar
Aug 22, 2014 Abhilesh Dhawanjewar rated it really liked it
Provides a nice overall perspective on the Dr. Paul Kammerer suicide case. Also, brilliantly illustrates how emotions and beliefs in science can lead to dirty politics between prominent scientists.
Dec 08, 2014 Cat rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2014, 2014-12
Fascinating unraveling of this debate and drama I had no idea existed. I really enjoyed all of the primary sources!
Jun 24, 2013 Dorian rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
Remember that perfect essay you wrote in college? You let the paths of research unfold before you, collected the anecdotal gems along the way and emerged with a story no one else had seen. This is better than that. Because Koestler is a better author than you. The subject of the story is Paul Kammerer, an artist turned scientist who saw the poetry in biology. He seems to have set up experiments based on what would be really cool if it worked out like he thought it would. Fittingly, this story ab ...more
Mar 19, 2013 Karen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, science
A fascinating book about an eminent Austrian scientist at the turn of the 20th century who did research on Darwinian theories or counter-theories. His work breeding certain Midwife Toads was the focus of incredible controversy. He was personally and professionally destroyed by envious scientific colleagues at other institutes, who claimed he faked his research. He committed suicide in 1926.
Jul 18, 2010 Charles rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A delightful book, although somewhat dated in places now. I don't agree with everything Koestler says concerning evolution but it's still quite fascinating to see his mind at work.
Carol Stott
Nov 22, 2012 Carol Stott rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lifechanging
I read this book many many years ago. Lifechanging.
May 08, 2012 Lee-Anne rated it it was amazing
excellent myth debunker
Jul 29, 2007 Devin rated it really liked it
Shelves: rivalrymay
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Arthur Koestler CBE [*Kösztler Artúr] was a prolific writer of essays, novels and autobiographies.

He was born into a Hungarian Jewish family in Budapest but, apart from his early school years, was educated in Austria. His early career was in journalism. In 1931 he joined the Communist Party of Germany but, disillusioned, he resigned from it in 1938 and in 1940 published a devastating anti-Communis
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