John's Reviews > The Voyage of the Beagle

The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin
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Jan 27, 2009

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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 HMS Beagle for the five year voyage to map Patagonia and Tierra del Feugo and circumnavigate the globe.

What I found most interesting about this book was how easy it is to read and enjoy. It is the edited journal of Charles Darwin during his voyage on HMS Beagle, yes, but it reads like a travel channel show with Darwin as your host. This is not the old, "Origin of Species" Darwin with his long white beard and noble, wisely appearance. This is just-out-of-college Darwin, looking for adventure. He's 24 years old, he knows nothing, he wants to see everything, he is good natured, idealistic, and full of questions. It's like he's on a cruise ship (which happens to be a ship-of-war) and he only has a few days at each port to "party" and see all the sights ("Naturalist gone Wild!"). What makes the journals enjoyable is that this is not a young man who thinks he has all the answers. He is aware of his inexperience and unfamiliarity with every surrounding he finds himself in and relies on interviews with others (locals, magistrates, natives, scientists) to fill in the blanks. He is smart. He accumulates facts. He writes them down. He expresses brief opinions. He gathers more facts. He has adventures. And here and there a light clicks on. We see something start to dawn on him. He doesn't put it together (that will come years later) but all the information he needs to formulate his later theories is here-- he just doesn't see it. But we do! And that's the fun of reading these journals: watching this young man grow up on this five year voyage. What makes this an extraordinary read is that we know how it ends. This book is a little like watching The Sixth Sense a second time (after you know the twist) to watch all the clues missed the first time-- knowing that years later-- Darwin will see the twist.
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Reading Progress

January 27, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
February 17, 2009 – Finished Reading

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message 1: by Jorel (new) - added it

Jorel Thanks for this review mate! Made me want to read the book!

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