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Darwin's Armada: Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  272 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
"Sparkling . . . an extraordinary true-adventure story, complete with trials, tribulations and moments of exultation."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Award-winning cultural historian Iain McCalman tells the stories of Charles Darwin and his staunchest supporters: Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley, and Alfred Wallace. Beginning with the somber morning of April 26, 1882—the day of
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Paperback, 423 pages
Published November 15th 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 2009)
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Maria
Darwin's Armada, is a marvelous narrative of the lives of four men: Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, Joseph Hooker and Alfred Wallace.

Iain McCalman offers not an insight or analysis of the theory of evolution per se, but instead he gives us the fascinating history behind these great pioneer scientists in which you will delight yourself with exciting vivid experiences during their voyages, their struggles, their emotions and feelings as well as the invaluable friendship that eventually formed among
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Mitchell
Apr 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine adventures on the high seas where intrepid explorers endure rough seas, extreme cold, heat, bandits and disease. Imagine exploration of foreign lands and foreign people. Imagine an intense, protracted struggle to introduce a new area of science amidst fierce opposition from religious circles and the scientific establishment.

The science of evolution developed out of the struggles and insights of these brave explorers during their journeys. This book captures these adventures in individua
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Jim Dellit
Feb 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-read
I liked this book very much: it was a gift perfectly matched to my reading preference and current interests. The 'Armada' metaphor works well to capture both the influence of the sea journeying of the four main scientist protagonists (Darwin, Hooker, Huxley and the heroic Wallace), as well as their co-joined war on the science deniers of their day. It is pertinent to be reminded of how young these scientists were - in their early 20's - when they adventured into unknown environments and privatio ...more
Stan
Jan 20, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
slow read for me. well written, interesting look at science in the 19th century.
Jenny
Dec 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am fascinated by Darwin's life
Marian Willeke
The poignant experiences of the four natural historians who brought about the publication and battle for evolution in Victorian science is the crux of the book, ending with how the four met and the intertwining of their lives through to their successful ends. The key elements for me were the political maneuverings of presenting evolution to the scientific community as well as the climax of Darwin's late publication against Wallace's insights to the central theory of evolution that threatened Dar ...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
I loved this book! Biography in general is so hit an miss in my experience. It is so hard to get a writer to bring in an emotional tug while sticking to facts and I really felt this author pulled this off. I had a bit of a hard time with the first half as the characters skipped around and it took some time to build the connections but by the second half he really hits you with the emotional ties of these men, and the scope of the work they were trying to achieve. I gained a huge appreciation for ...more
J. D.
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent biographical survey of the early proponents of the now-
ascendant Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.
Shawn Callahan
May 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much that I even wrote to the author to thank him for it.
Blair
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful insight into the events leading up to the publication of these ideas.
Travis Zuber
Jun 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent read... Author takes you on the adventure from discovery to publication to debating... Now if 50% of U.S. would just jump on board
Scott
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
evolution combined with travel writing and south sea exploration. what could be better.
Dorjan
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent and informative read!
Rangarathnam Gopu
A marvelous tour de force of the lives and travels and scientific contributions of four great English biologist-adventurers, inspired by their German role model, Alexander von Humboldt.

The four are Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Russel Wallace. All of them took risky voyages across the sea, to places that scientists had rarely visited before, saw Life in mind-boggling variety with astute eyes, formed who new theories and massive collections of specimens, and changed biol
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الشناوي محمد
أسطول داروين
كيف ربح أربعة رحالة إلي أسترالاسيا
معركة التطور وغيروا وجه العالم
إيان ماكالمان
...............................
الشائع بيننا أن فكرة التطور التي اشتهر بها داروين، هي من انتاجه العقلي وحده بلا شركاء، لكن الحقيقة ان الفكرة نفسها كانت بدأت في الظهور قبله بزمن، وبدات تتحول لحديث العلماء، إلا ان احدا لم لملك عليها دليلا، ولم يملك أحدا الشجاعة للجهر بها قبل داروين، فداروين هو اول من سعي وراء الحلم، وأول من عمل علي التحقق من صدقه بالأدلة القطعية، لذلك فالنظرية تنسب إليه.
لكن الصحيح أيضا أن النظر
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Shirley
Darwin's Armada, by historian Iain McCalman, is a refreshing portrayal of the development of the theory of evolution over the 50 year span beginning in the early 1830s in Britain. McCalman describes the scientific naval voyages of Charles Darwin on the Beagle in the Southern Hemisphere(1831-36), and his great supporters who followed in this footsteps: Joseph Hooker, botanist (1839-43), Thomas Huxley, biologist (1846-50), and Alfred Wallace, zoogeographer (1844-66), who focussed his inquiries to ...more
Mark V
Sep 07, 2011 rated it really liked it
I just finished reading this book minutes ago, and i must say that i want to read it again. It first chronicles the individual paths of darwin, hooker, huxley, and wallace on their voyages and finishes with their teamed battle against the established order of clerical creationists in the scientific community unwilling to accept any science that is contrary to their god. I wanted to give it a reread because you don't really have an appreciation of who these individuals are until they battle for t ...more
Bill Leach
Jul 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book examines Darwin's voyage on the Beagle, his work at Down House and the events around publication of his book "On the Origin of Species". What makes this book particularly interesting is McCalman's treatment of Hooker, Huxley and Wallace. The early life and travels of each are described.

Joseph Hooker traveled with Captain James Clark Ross, a well-known polar explorer, aboard the Erebus and Terror to set up magnetic observatories. A better understanding of the earth's magnetic field was
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Peter Matthews
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


This is a stimulating view of what it took to be a scientist in the nineteenth century. By dint of hard physical labour, acute observation and a very accurate summary of what is meant by "survival of the fittest" Professor McCalman describes the characteristics of the great observing naturalists who, along with Charles Darwin himself did for the biological sciences what Isacc Newton, Hooke and Boyle had done for the physical sciences two hundred years before. They based their conclusions not on
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Carl
Jun 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone knows about Darwin's travels on the Beagle (don't they?), some know about Alfred Russel Wallace's travels in the Amazon and IndoPacific (leading him to the same theory of Evolution by Natural Selection, as well as pioneering studies of biogeography, etc.), but few know about the Southern Ocean Voyages of their contemporaries, Joseph Hooker and Thomas Huxley, helping them make their start in Natural History.

The author provides details about their early lives and travels, and suggests th
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Gary Bryant
Apr 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book covering the history of 4 important voyages by 4 men: Darwin, who developed the theory of evolution; Wallace, who independently came up with some of the key concepts and collected important evidence for it; Huxley, one of the great scientists of the age who was the chief public supporter and defender of Darwin; and Hooker, who conducted vital research during his travels, and became a leading light in supporting Darwin and Wallace. The book mixes details about the science and trava ...more
Alison
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read more than 50 books this year, and I reckon this is the one I enjoyed the most so far. McCalman understands the importance of story, and draws you in without speculating beyond what the record could tell you.
The book's narrative covers four mid-19th century sea voyages, and the scientific establishment in England. But the story is about how extraordinary experiences create relationships; about the impact of class, wealth and education on our lives, and the cominjg-of-age of four very di
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David
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: intelligent people, enquiring minds
This is a fascinating book for those who appreciate the work of pioneers in science. This book shows many of the people who worked towards ideas that opened up our knowledge of evolution.
The times when this science was being discovered were both wonderful and dreadful. If James Cook hadn't shown how to alleviate scurvy, long voyages of science would have been at best dangerous, at worst, deadly.
This book addresses the early years of evolutionary theory, reminding us of the background to it's fo
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Talha Khan
Apr 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Provides useful insights into the experiences that led Charles Darwin to develop the theory of evolution as we know it today.

Highlights the importance of the camaraderie between Thomas Huxley, Joseph Hooker and Charles Darwin, without which the theory could not have survived the onslaught it received from the scientific establishment in Victorian Britain..

The book also sheds light on the amazing work and indomitable spirit & work ethic of the co-founder of the theory of evolution, the less
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Losososdiane
Dec 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this history, especially the campaign waged by Darwin's fellow scientists for acceptance of an evidence- based theory of why and how we are here. This goes perfectly with The Age of Wonder. These two books are my faves right now. The singularity of focus that drove the lives of these men and women and their need to figure out the evidence and it's meaning is very, very impressive and inspiring. Science is all about being open to new questions and never building a bunker from which to defen ...more
Jim
Mar 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
I thoroughly enjoyed the book: informed me in areas of my ignorance; a series of adventure stories; reaffirmed my view of Victorians as incredibly energetic. I was really unaware of the role of Wallace, et. al., along with Darwin, in the battle to document the theories of evolution. These were strong people influenced to fight as if in a war - one they intended to fight until victory. They took on the church-state power of the powerful British Empire, and won. It makes the residual evolutionary ...more
M
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be an easy and informative read. I had not realized the degree of organization among Hooker, Huxley, Wallace, and Darwin in the defense of natural history and academic liberalism. At first I thought this was a somewhat exaggerated interpretation of history, but the historical reality of the "X-club" makes the concept concrete. The subsequent long-term ramifications of these activities included the way Kew RBG came to be administered and the reputation of the journal "Nature." Ver ...more
Augusto Barros
Jan 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best I've read this year. It's impressive how much effort those guys (Darwin, Hooker, Huxley and Wallace) put in changing how we understand species and varieties. It's a testimony into how science finally broke the chains of dogma and religious ideas in biology. There's no way a rational person can doubt Evolution after understanding how much they saw and studied the whole world biology before reaching their conclusions. Awesome!
BookBrowse
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for anyone interested in how the theory of evolution developed. It is recommended particularly for those with an interest in the biological sciences, although non-scientific readers will find it very accessible. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs): http://www.bookbrowse.com/reviews/ind...
Josh Brock
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


I'm a sucker for a good science history book, and this one delivered. The main pitfall for this type of book is to be too academic. This book did a great job of avoiding that pitfall, instead maintaining a tightly edited narrative. If you enjoyed this book, I would highly recommend Richard Holmes' "The Age of Wonder".
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Iain McCalman is an award-winning professor at the , where he lives. He has served as president of the Australian Academy of the Humanities and director of the Humanities Research Centre at ANU. He lives in Sydney.
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