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Voyage of the Beagle

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  6,856 ratings  ·  459 reviews
s/t: Charles Darwin's Journal of Researches
When the Beagle sailed out of Devonport on 27 December 1831, Charles Darwin was twenty-two and setting off on the voyage of a lifetime.
It was to last five years and transform him from an amiable and somewhat aimless young man into a scientific celebrity. Even more vitally, it was to set in motion the intellectual currents that cu
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 432 pages
Published November 7th 1989 by Penguin Books (first published May 1839)
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J.L.   Sutton
Apr 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
It might sound like a little dry to read a scientist's observations of an expedition, but that wasn't the case for me. Charles Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle provides a fascinating glimpse on Darwin’s early impressions of race, slavery, decolonization, the dichotomy of savagery and civilization, and the survival of the fittest (as well as his descriptions of a wide variety of fauna and stunning natural scenery). ...more
Roy Lotz
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This book is really a rare treasure. Is there anything comparable? Here we have the very man whose ideas have revolutionized completely our understanding of life, writing with charm about the very voyage which sparked and shaped his thinking on the subject. And even if this book wasn’t a window into the mind of one of history’s most influential thinkers, it would still be ent
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Beagle was sent on a surveying mission by the Royal Navy; initially it was intended to last three years but it was extended to five and the ship circumnavigated the globe. The captain, Fitzroy, wanted a companion on the voyage and through a convoluted series of events, ended up with a youthful Darwin along, which so annoyed the official ship's Naturalist who was also the surgeon (as was common), that he resigned and left at the first port of call, part way across the Atlantic. Fortunately an ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is Charles Darwin's journal of his 5-year voyage on the HMS Beagle.

This journey marked the second of Captain Fitzroy and the Beagle but the first for 22-year-old Charles Darwin, who had decided to become a naturalist like Alexander von Humboldt.
Darwin had stopped studying medicine and refused to become a priest so the persuasion of an uncle was necessary for Charles' father to allow (and fund) the journey in the first place. But he did.

They went from England to Tenerife, Cape Verde, Ba
Nov 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is not the correct edition. Mine is published by Recorded Books, read by John Franklin Robbins, & is just selections from the book, about 4.5 hours long, with additional material - a really good biography. It was short & to the point. It's been a long time since I last read this, but I think I liked it in audio better than in print. Darwin's prose is perfect for being read out loud.

Everyone always talks about Darwin's theories on evolution which makes it tough to remember that he was an al
Paul E. Morph
Jan 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darwin's own account of the, now almost legendary, five year voyage of the Beagle is an entertaining, illuminating and fascinating read. Darwin writes with such enthusiasm that it's difficult not to be swept up in the journey and the remarkable things he witnessed and studied as he circumnavigated the globe.

The only thing I found slightly disappointing was Darwin's attitude towards some of the peoples (or, as he refers to them, 'savages') he interacted with on his trek. Darwin was famously anti-
Jul 02, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, read-2021
I am pretty sure I read this as a teenager, about 40 years ago, and liked it, mainly for the illustrations. I decided to have another look…


Places Darwin visits with the HMS Beagle:

1. Chapter I: St. Jago–Cape de Verde Islands (St. Paul's Rocks, Fernando Noronha, 20 Feb.., Bahia, or San Salvador, Brazil, 29 Feb..)
2. Chapter II: Rio de Janeiro
3. Chapter III: Maldonado
4. Chapter IV: Río Negro to Bahia Blanca
5. Chapter V: Bahía Blanca
6. Chapter VI: Bahia Blanca to Buenos Aires
7. Chapter VII: Buenos
Jan 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Commanders in the Royal Navy could not socialize with their crew. They ate their meals alone-- then they met with the officers on board ship. This took it's mental toll on the ship's Captain's and so they were allowed a "civil" companion-- someone from outside the Navy who would be under their command but was not part of the crew. Captain Fitz Roy (age 26), a Nobleman and a passionate Naturalist chose Charles Darwin (a wealthy, upper-class Naturalist "enthusiast") to be his companion aboard the ...more
Gilly McGillicuddy
May 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
What I wrote in my LJ while I was reading it.

So I've started reading The Voyage of the Beagle. I've only read a chapter or so so far, but it's very enjoyable. I just kind of wish I'd paid more attention to my geology classes in school. It's a lot more relaxed and not nearly as self-conscious and defensive as TOoS was. It's all along the lines of "Hi all! We arrived on Random Island today. The trees are pretty but the people didn't even give us coffee. Can you believe it?! Anyhoo, I found a rock
Erik Graff
Apr 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: Bill Ellos
Shelves: sciences
Upon matriculating into Loyola University's MA/PhD program in philosophy during the late summer of 1980, I was assigned to Bill Ellos as his teaching assistant. Bill, a deep-cover Jesuit, had come to Chicago from Washington State, having done some work there with educational film as well as being a university professor. His interests were diverse to say the least. His doctoral dissertation from the Pontifical Institute in Rome was on Wittgenstein, but the work he had me doing originally was most ...more
Mar 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biology-zoology
Charles Darwin...he remains as of yet the only historical figure I would have loved to have had the chance to meet. He's a zoologist, a botanist, a geologist... Darwin is a scientist through and through...

Voyage of the Beagle...I loved the fauna, didn't really understand much about the flora, and had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the geology.

But what surprised me most, was the parts of Darwin's personality that shone through his writing...wit, sarcasm, humanitarianism...

This is definite
Duffy Pratt
For a long time (too long), it looked like it was going to take me longer to read this book than it took the Beagle to sail around the world. Darwin was a brilliant man, and a fine writer. But the genre of naturalistic travel writings is just not for me. In a similar vein, I've also read some of Thoreau's travel writings, a less brilliant man but a better writer, and came away with the same feeling.

In brief sections, I would find the book brilliant. But those brief sections would not be enough t
Darwin was largely a paternalistic meliorist, who apparently genuinely believed that Europeans were improving people's lives through colonialism, missionaries, etc.

This book reveals odd doubts, though. Darwin expresses agnostic puzzlement about oral histories telling of terrible plagues accompanying the arrival of Europeans. He's not sure how to believe it, and yet can't (quite) dismiss it--so he recommends further study (which, I might add, has confirmed the stories of epidemics in spades).

Carol Ann
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a fascinating book! I listened to the Audible version wonderfully narrated by Barnaby Edwards. It felt very personal - like joining Darwin near the fireplace after dinner each evening to listen to his adventures and discoveries. As a result, I have gained great appreciation for Darwin's efforts and contributions.

In the past, I have always associated his name with the theory of evolution but there is so much more! I am astounded that he was only in his early twenties on this voyage and had
Ed Holden
Nov 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
A surprisingly accessible piece of travel writing. Darwin's account of his five year voyage around the world is a much easier read than other nineteenth century writing (Dickens, Austen, etc.) and is full of fascinating ruminations and cultural observations. As you'd expect, he's very interested in wildlife and geology, and if that's not your thing you might find large sections of chapters to be a little dull (it's not unusual for him to list every observed bird or type of plant in a region and ...more
Mary Soderstrom
Aug 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The Best Book I Ever Read on a Holiday

We're going to take a little vacation, and along with getting house-sitters lined up, I've been thinking about what to take to read. Don't know yet, but I keep coming back to the best book I ever read while on a trip.

It's Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle. Now available as a free pdf, 35 years ago the edition I took along was a quality paperback that still is in one piece despite being consulted many times. It was just the right size to tuck in a backpack or
Mar 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
This was Darwin's journal from his 5 year voyage on the Beagle. It predates his famous theory on evolution, but is where it all started. This is a book that should come with a disclaimer. Although it is fascinating to read the work that started it all, one must take a moment to realize when it was written. It is painfully racist. I had to remind myself many times that this was in the early 1800s, but his references to natives as savages and these cultures being inferior to his own, and his nonch ...more
Stephen McQuiggan
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I'd rather have a barbed wire enema than read about the strata of granite or the formation of basalt - but once you wade through the geology you realize what a gem this book is. It's very much of its time - there's an underlying superiority in his talk of 'savages' and civilized man, a by-product of Britain's rampant colonialism - but it is drenched with wonder too. Darwin's joy at unexplored nature is infectious, and his frequent descriptions of the indigenous tribes of S. America are fascinati ...more
Feb 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, biology, travel
The narrative takes you back in time and to some remotest and fantastic places on the planet. The most vivid description is given to that part the author enjoyed greatly himself, namely, Tierra del Fuego. Other places visited by Darwin on his voyage were judged as bleak, undeserving and weren't given a fair chance to impress him, which may be held against the author by the reader. ...more
 Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Schu
Darwin definitely keep detailed accounts of his encounters with the indigenous population & wasn't especially cruel but continued to distinguish people as either civilized or barbaric. I loved the geographic, geological, & zoological accounts of his travel journal. ...more
Nov 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Moved to ...more
Gijs Grob
Darwin's 'The Voyage of the Beagle' is a strange mixture of ecstatic travel writing and keen scientific observation. Darwin's writing style is very dense and informative, but at times bursts into strong emotional and very engaging writing. By all means this is powerful prose.

Darwin not only makes very sharp observations on geology, nature and culture, he's also able to paint vivid pictures of the countries and islands he visits. His diary is of invaluable worth when describing nations and animal
The great Carl Sagan once said, “What an astonishing thing a book is. It's a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you're inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you." That's what The Voyage of the Beagle felt like to me, spending 25 hours along side the greatest naturalist th ...more
Apr 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yes, it's 500 pages and you have to wade through a lot of dry geology. But the little moments make it worthwhile -- it's like reading a Jules Verne travel adventure, but real. Darwin combines his incredible observational talent and extremely broad, deep knowledge of 1830s science (even though he's only in his 20s) to describe all sorts of marvelous details from his 5-year trip around the southern hemisphere.

Some favorite aspects:
- Marveling at crazy finds, coincidences, and epic vistas -- earth
Dan Raghinaru
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A great glimpse into the mind of young Charles Darwin, his formative encounters around the world, his passions and developments culminating with his evolution theory, and into the word as it was almost 200 years ago. The scientific mission of HMS Beagle around the world, the centrality of British worldview and power, the encounter and opening of the virgin world, the scientific method and discoveries, the adventures and the unexpected, and so on - represent the archetype story that still fascina ...more
Darwin traveled aboard the H.M.S. Beagle in the 1830's, stopping at the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and all over South America in the five year journey. This work chronicles the events of the trip itself and reads partly as a traveler's journal and partly as a detailed description of the natural surroundings by a scientist. Stopping at the Galapagos Islands resulted in the formulation of a new theory which changed the face of modern science, but the voyage was apparently f ...more
Elliott Bignell
Apr 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This beautifully-written account of Darwin's formative voyage presents sides of him that will surprise many 21st-Century readers. It is probably well understood by now that Darwin did not see the finches of the Galapagos and experience a crash of evolutionary transcendence like an incoming Pterodactyl. He developed the theory patiently over the subsequent decades, and his experiences in his five years with the "Beagle" only contributed retrospectively. But the fact is that he was at this time al ...more
keith koenigsberg
Feb 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin (w-1839 r-12/2006 hrs-9). A captivating narrative of scientific exploration, and probably the best adventure travel book I've ever read. Certain to uplift your mind and your spirit.

First, although he is occasionally a bit long-winded in a Victorian way, and also occasionally goes into deep scientific detail which the modern lay reader will be tempted to skim, the majorioty of the volume is terse, modern, and exciting. Second, there is an actual adventu
Michael Huang
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I have to confess that I'm a card-carrying Darwin fanboy: The theory of evolution is clearly one of the pinnacles of scientific discoveries. Darwin deserves enormous respect for articulating the theory. His thoughts had been gradually formed thanks to his earlier work, including the observations made on the voyage of the Beagle. It would be blasphemous for me to rate the book about Darwin's celebrated trip described in great details by the great man himself anything but 5-stars. The Galapagos is ...more
This book obviously shows its age as a work of science writing, but it is a magnificent travelogue. Darwin's voyage, detailed in this account, transformed his beliefs and laid the groundwork for his theories of evolution. His descriptions of the indigenous peoples he encountered, as well as the fellow expatriates and travelers he met, make for an entertaining cast of characters, set against an ever-changing, but continually marvelous background of islands and foreign lands. We meet a wide range ...more
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Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, eminent as a collector and geologist, who proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selec ...more

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