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Darwin Conspiracy, The

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,312 ratings  ·  177 reviews
In this riveting new novel, bestselling author John Darnton transports us to Victorian England and around the world to reveal the secrets of a legendary nineteenth-century figure. Darnton elegantly blends the power of fact and the insights of fiction to explore the many mysteries attached to the life and work of Charles Darwin.

What led Darwin to the theory of evolution? Wh
Published September 13th 2005 by Brilliance Audio (first published January 1st 2005)
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 ·  1,312 ratings  ·  177 reviews

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Aug 20, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook
Darnton has done it again, presenting a great novel, full of scientific history and challenging the mainstream view. While past bookshave tackled medical and anthropological phenomena, the author pulls out all the stops and challenges the foundation of Darwin’s evolutionary discoveries. He also posits some theories as to why it took so long to present his findings to the public, and some biographical nuggets. Told in a three person narrative, the story flips from the present, to Darwin’s own jou ...more
Benjamin Stahl
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
When I selected this book, coming recently from The Flat-Earth Conspiracy, I judged from the title that it would attempt a debunk of Darwin's claims. To the contrary, upon reading the back, I found this was actually pro-evolution, giving something of a "Dan Brown treatment" to the famous Beagle voyage. Anyway, I was slightly dismayed to find so many negative reviews on Goodreads, thinking I might be in for a long one. The book, in my opinion, was actually very enjoyable though.

As the writer him
Jul 29, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Disclaimer: I listened to this book on audio while on a road trip. I love to take in books this way, but I admit it comes with distractions.

Still, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this book much more in print. For one thing, I've been experiencing conspiracy fatigue. Deep down I think we all want there to be some big conspiracies out there. But as I look at our leaders, and how frantically they are just trying to keep up in the rat race, my heart tells me most conspiracy theories are just so mu
Christian Schwoerke
The mystery at the back of this "conspiracy" is not meant to be a nail-biting suspense story; it's the unraveling of ways of perception and received ideas.

What was enticing about this book is the way Darnton makes clear that history is what you take away from the facts. At the personal level, the contemporary character is beset with the sense of angst, guilt, dread about his relation to his brother's death. He learns over the course of the novel how to re-situate himself with the same set of fac
Carl Alves
The Darwin Conspiracy is a bloated, overwritten novel that was at times painful to read. The novel constantly flashes back from modern times, following Hugh and Beth, two grad students who follow the works of Darwin and come across the conspiracy described in the title, and to Darwin in his voyage on the Beagle, and then to the diary entries of one of Darwin’s daughters. I wasn’t a big fan of the constant flipping back and forth from modern time to the past and the constant shifts in points of v ...more
Clif Hostetler
Jan 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
This is a historical novel with a twist of alternative history. The conspiracy has nothing to do with the efficacy of natural selection, but why would Darwin not want to say where he got the idea in the first place. If I say anymore I'll ruin the plot.

Here's a review of the book from my PageADay Book Lover's calendar:

When two scientists locked in a rivalry over Charles Darwin come across some papers of Darwin’s daughter’s, they are forced to regard their hero in a different light. A
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
I was torn between two and three stars for this one, but I did enjoy it. It was a bit slow in places but was interesting. I was troubled by how easy the two protagonists were able to uncover the "conspiracy." It often seemed like things just fell into their laps due to coincidence. The final conclusion is highly unbelievable but still rather entertaining.
Erika Schmid
This entire book was just one big shrug of my shoulders and a grunt of, "eh". I did not have outlandish expectations, just a simple story that led on a thrilling adventure. Instead, I got something that was less than thrilling and fell short of any sort of wow factor.

Taking place during three time periods, during Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, during his daughter Lizzie's life, and in the present with scholar of Darwin named Hugh. Each intertwine, of course, and each lead to the grand mystery of
Patrick E.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book captured my attention pretty quickly, and held on to it, as a good mystery novel should. The author deftly switched between frames of reference (and centuries of reference), but unfortunately it did not pan out into much of anything at the end. The. Hold up was so great - the tension so well handled - that the author actually undercut his own lackluster ending further with its banality. It was a disappointing payout.
David Pyle
As historical fiction goes, I wish there was more of the former and a bit less of the latter. Of course, if there were, it likely would have been a less-engaging story.

It took several chapters to get me interested in Hugh and Beth’s saga but I did eventually buy in. I was hoping for a big reveal in the Afterword that some spark of the, “conspiracy,” was true. Alas, it was but a well-conceived fiction. Of course, it did say, “A Novel,” on the front cover.

A worthy read.
Suzanne Ray
May 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed the history introduced and wanted to learn more about Darwin as a person, but the modern day plot was too easy. How could the protagonist go to London and happen to meet, within a few days, a woman he had known for a week in the Galapagos and the ex-fiance of his deceased brother? What chance would there be that the young woman would be studying Darwin's daughter, as the protagonist was? The coincidences are too many to list.
Interesting book and well written. I did not know much about Darwin so some of the history was new to me even though the book was a work of fiction. The book skips back and forth between modern times and Darwin's time. It was done successfully but I am too fond of that construct. It is not very complementary of Darwin or the scientific establishment around him but that is probably not fiction.
This got me interested in Darwin and the Beagle.......I'm trying to figure out if Darwin actually was a bit of a creep! I enjoyed the Darwin stuff but the current day story line didn't interest me at all.
Ray LaManna
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is all about Charles Darwin and his great discovery of natural selection...but it's a fictional account with many new twists. After a slow start thing pick up...and in the course of this novel you will learn a great deal about natural history.
Meir Riba
I wonder how Hugh refers to green footed boobies (1st chapter). AFAIK, there are no such birds in Galapagos. Is this a mistake of the author, a trap for the unaware reader or part of a setup of an alternative universe?
Cathy Nunn
Do editors no longer edit. To long by far. The characters were amoral. Did not care at all about them
David M
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent weaving of history and imaginative fiction.
Judith Boling
Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I purchased this book at an AAUW book sale. A compelling and well-researched tale of the discovery of a deeply held secret. The story unfolds through three skillfully woven story arcs.
Tanyo Ivanov
Jan 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interestning book with action in two times in the same time.
May 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like Historical Fiction you will like this book
Kody Dibble
Sep 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting read...Little elements of historical truth but huge elements of mystery surrounding certain events.
Brian Katz
A fun read. Good story.
Dulcie Shoener
The varied storytellers made for a captivating presentation, but I found it a little long, especially some of the letters the author created. On the bright side, it absolutely delighted me that one of the main characters was named Beth Dulcimer.
Jacob Vander Weit
Jul 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darntons sophomore novel is a fun read that had me not wanting to put the book down. The story is cleverly told in three separate time periods through three separate voices which leads to a fun and sometimes inquisitive approach to the story behind the HMS Beagle and her occupants
Jason Golomb
My definition of historical fiction is a work that takes key pieces of a very real history while expanding and filling in the gaps of the unknown to create a more fully fleshed version of reality. John Darnton's "The Darwin Conspiracy" targets something a little different. Darnton takes the bones of history, specifically Charles Darwin's trip to South America on board 'The Beagle', and wraps around it a skin of his own creation, to display an alternate version of of how he came to develop his no ...more
Oct 22, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

“Hugh and Beth slept late, then descended to an outdoor terrace overlooking the lake, where they treated themselves to an old-fashioned English breakfast: eggsa, sausage, bacon, tomatoes, and baked beans. Beth smiled, stretching in the sunlight – like a contented cat, thought Hugh. He had also slept well. He could not remember the last time he had felt as good as he did now, both completely alive and completely relaxed.“

Regresso à novela histórica, desta v
May 07, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I readily admit this was a strange read for me to pick me up. As someone who's grown up with (and still leans toward) a staunchly Creationist view, it's more likely a book I'd encounter with these two words in the title would be putting Darwin down. Actually, although not at all religious, that's not so far from the truth about this novel. In many ways it's a mystery, surrounding questions of Darwin's moral character, hypochondria, and the evolution of his theory. It was the mystery that got me ...more
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Wow, this has been on my shelf for a very long time. I picked it up with a gift certificate for borders that I received for Christmas 2005. It seemed intriguing at the time. Now that I'm headed to the Galapagos this summer and will tread where Darwin tread, I thought I'd pick it up off the shelf.

Two pieces of fictionalized history in a row. The last was much better than this one, but I did enjoy this.

The plot consisted of a couple of modern day science historians digging into Darwin's past and
Alger Smythe-Hopkins
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
To say Charles Darwin was controversial in his day is an understatement, but although close to two hundred years have passed, he's scarcely less controversial in our own day. There are many mysteries surrounding the way he conducted his life: he did not publish his theory for nearly twenty years, after his famous voyage, his health and nerves were poor, and he rarely traveled again. John Darnton has constructed a novel around these factors, with an eye toward explaining what could have caused Da ...more
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John Darnton has worked for The New York Times for forty years as a reporter, editor, and foreign correspondent. He is the recipient of two George Polk Awards and a Pulitzer Prize. He is also the author of five novels, including The Darwin Conspiracy and the best seller Neanderthal. He lives in New York.

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