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Darwin: Portrait of a Genius par [Johnson, Paul]
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Descriptions du produit

Revue de presse

“Riveting . . . The `genius’ of Paul Johnson’s biography of Charles Darwin is manifestly, impressively apparent [in his discussion of] 'On the Origin of Species.’”
—Wall Street Journal


“Excellent and courageous.”
Michael Flannery, author of Alfred Russel Wallace


“This little sketch reminds us why Darwin’s theory of natural selection endures and continues to provoke controversy.”
Publishers Weekly


“This is a first-rate biography, one that brings Darwin and his ideas into brilliant focus.”                         
History Book Club

Présentation de l'éditeur

Eminent historian Paul Johnson provides a rich, succinct portrait of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is arguably the most influential scientist of all time. His Origin of Species forever changed our concept of the world’s creation. 

Darwin’s revolutionary career is the perfect vehicle for historian Paul Johnson. Marked by the insightful observation, spectacular wit, and highly readable prose for which Johnson is so well regarded, Darwin brings the gentleman-scientist and his times brilliantly into focus. From Darwin’s birth into great fortune to his voyage aboard the Beagle, to the long-delayed publication of his masterpiece, Johnson delves into what made this Victorian gentleman into a visionary scientist—and into the tragic flaws that later led Darwin to support the burgeoning eugenics movement.

Johnson’s many admirers as well as history and science buffs will be grateful for this superb account of Darwin and the everlasting impact of his discoveries.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 997 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 177 pages
  • Editeur : Penguin Books; Édition : Reprint (11 octobre 2012)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B007V65P92
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 2.0 étoiles sur 5 1 commentaire client
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Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This is not a biography, but an essay, where the author mixes his own thoughts and interpretation of Darwin's work and theories. It's a brief portrait of the naturalist, and it lacks accuracy.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 3.7 étoiles sur 5 39 commentaires
7 internautes sur 7 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The Paul Johnson Monkey Trial 8 août 2014
Par john purcell - Publié sur
Format: Relié
I only knew Paul Johnson from his insightful commentaries in Forbes where the 85 year old historian shows us that today's leaders don't always meet the standards of their predecessors. I did not know what to expect in a biography but the elder statesman gets it absolutely right here with Darwin. No dry recitation of facts and dates but insightful analysis of Darwin's times, the full impact of his work in both social and scientific circles, and some glaring oversights and omissions by the great man. I think this is the most riveting account of a 19th century scientist that one could find.

Darwin may have been the world's first full-time scientist. Born on the same day as Abraham Lincoln, Darwin knew only wealth and comfort from his good fortune with family lines into lucrative pottery and medicine. He was well-educated, well-travelled, and well-married. As a young man, he was deemed the best choice for a vast scientific adventure, due as much to his family and up-bringing as scientific knowledge. He did make the most of the experience, hoarding away millions of samples and learning the sharp-elbowed approach to beating scientific rivals to the lecture circuit.

We hear from Johnson on Darwin's many weaknesses. Perhaps the most egregious one was his ineptitude and lack of interest in mathematics which kept him from moving his nascent theory forward. This was left to others, especially Mendel who it appears never crossed paths with Darwin although they were contemporaries. We also learn about Darwin's lack of confidence, limited work hours, unwillingness to spend his available funds on supplemental research, and difficult relationships with some peers and competitors.

Where this book really shines is when Johnson puts the Darwin story into the bigger picture. Darwin died with his theory of evolution only half-baked since he never understood or built a genetic model to support it. His reliance on Malthusian theories was a mistake as they turned out to be wrong. Darwin also never expected eugenics to arise from his work although he certainly should have anticipated people wanting to apply this to social problems.
27 internautes sur 34 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Entertaining, at least admits his biases, packed passion not for Darwin sycopahants 20 octobre 2012
Par Joseph M. Hennessey - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Paul Johnson's crie du coeur agaist the nearly blind adulation of Charles cultus rankles them, even those who admit they have not read the brief addition to the Johnson extensive corpus. Yes, Darwin was brilliant, but not infallible, weak in many branches of what is now just called 'science.' Good counter-balance to the worshipers of their guru, he was the first to admit that he was an unoriginal amateur in mathematics and an unacknowleding their of the more profound work of his contemporaries and predecessors.

Unfortunately, Johnson does use a lot of 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' logic, that Darwin had caused all the atheist excesses of evil of the past 2 centuries, yet only the blind do not admit at least a remote connection. Darwin was more of an agnostic because of personal losses rather than a reasonable rejection of Christian doctrine.

well worth a few hours of your reading time.
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Superb Introduction to Darwin, His Life, and His Ideas 30 mai 2013
Par Richard K. Mason - Publié sur
Format: Relié
This biography is a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the book so much that I gave my copy to my eldest brother, who loves Darwin, and sent a copy to a friend. Thereafter I happened to read some of the reviews on Amazon, and was surprised to see a few critical ones, so much so that I wondered whether we had read the same book. So I bought another copy and have now re-read it. Paul Johnson brings Darwin and his ideas to life, and is profuse in his praise for Darwin and most of what he wrote. However, he includes how Darwin overstated some things and made some mistakes, and how some, including Hitler, have misused his ideas. It is apparently this latter quality to the book, which has the virtues of being (1) true, (2) interesting, and (3) quite within the bounds of legitimate biography, which has caused some to object, lest their man be subject to criticism. I say let the chips fall where they may. All scientific endeavors should be subject to the constant and never-ending pursuit of truth. This book is a gem and anyone wanting a superb introduction to Darwin, his life, and his ideas should be well pleased with it, as I was.

Johnson notes that Darwin was a "machine for accumulating countless facts." For a 20th century parallel, interested readers might enjoy "A Congenial Fellowship: A Botanical Correspondence Between Charles C. Deam and Floyd A. Swink 1946-1951." It is the incredibly detailed and technical correspondence of two botanists in search of botanical truth. I should note that I knew Mr. Swink.
4 internautes sur 4 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Darwin as cultural catalyst 28 avril 2014
Par Clay Garner - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Starts by explaining the effect of his grandfather Erasmus Darwin. Erasmus held and published many of the ideas Charles later used. Relates how the attempted attack on Joseph Priestley, a family friend, for his beliefs intimidated Darwin for the remainder of his life. The mob cried out, 'No philosophers - church and king forever!'

Johnson explains that Charles Lyell the geologist had just published a book showing that the earth must be millions of years old. For persons who believed incorrectly that the Bible teaches the earth is only six thousand years old, this evidence destroyed the faith of many. Johnson notes on page 31 this information was more significant in producing disbelief than anything Darwin wrote.

After returning from the Beagle, he read Malthus. This 'had a huge emotional impact'. Malthus law that population always outstrips food,(arithmetical vs geometrical), struck Darwin as the truth, (we now know Malthus was wrong). This erroneous idea was fundamental to Darwin's future writing.

On page 72 Johnson says that Tennyson in his poem, In Memoriam of 1851, 'glorified and almost sanctified evolution'. This is before Darwin's book. The idea of evolution was already accepted by many.

Page 83 "Origin, then, was a cleverly written, superbly presented, and even a cunningly judged book, and quite apart from its veracity deserved to have an enormous impact and sell widely. But it was, and is, open to one objection. This springs from the original excitement and emotion in which Darwin conceived his theory of natural selection. . . His emotions convinced him that the horror scenario was the way nature operated, and he imparted this feeling to his book. The result, in the long term was to have malign even catastrophic consequences."

Johnson says that the emotion Darwin gives to nature using words as 'struggle', 'battle', 'race', forces', 'war', 'invasion', 'intruders of foreigners', 'attacks', 'beaten', or 'victorious', all referring to plants, insects and animals. Hence Darwin writes of the need for continual and colossal killings.

Page 90 notes that Marx was enthusiastic with Darwin and determined to use as a weapon in his ideological war. The Germans treated Darwin as a hero. In no other country did survival of the fittest catch on so fast. Page 127 "Darwin's writings led directly to the state of mind that promoted imperialism, the quest for colonies, the race for Africa. . . The leading Darwinian historian in Germany, Heinrich Von Treitschke, elaborated a fierce racial analysis of Germany's history and triumphant future, and Bismarck started a national program of German imperialism with a slogan of Darwinian resonance, "Blood and Iron."

Page 130 "The truth is, region is a book that, with total success, and embodies an exciting idea and had a devastating intellectual and emotional impact on world society." This led to social Darwinism in many forms, including laws against Jewish and Slavic immigration to protect the Anglo-Saxon racial stock.

Page 136 "It was essential to the self respect of communists to believe their ideology was scientific, and Darwin provided stiffening to the scaffold of laws and dialectic they erected there around their seizure and retention of power. . . Paul Pot, introduced by his professor John Paul Sartre to the idea of evolution to higher forms, translated that theory in terms of Cambodia into an urban rural struggle in which one fourth of the population died. In the 20th century, it is likely that over 100 million people were killed or starved to death as a result of totalitarian regimes infected with the varieties of social Darwinism."

Of course the evil effects of Darwinism does not prove it to be false. However, it should cause all thinking people to carefully examine the evidence for such a devastating doctrine. The uncritical support of such a doctrine is not a proper use of human reason. This seems to be the message of this book.

This book is 151 pages. Easy reading. Written for general reader not scholars. Johnson expresses opinion without attacking.

Good introduction to Darwin and the effects on the world of Darwinism.

For a more exhaustive account see: Gertrude Himmelfarb, Darwin and the Darwinian Revolution. 1959. It has 427 pages and hundreds of footnotes.
11 internautes sur 14 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Darwin a more personal view 5 novembre 2012
Par Mvr - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Johnson presents a tight well written personal profile of Darwin.
Readers will enjoys the psychological side of his biological journey. He points to the strengths and significant defects in Darwin intellectual arsenal. This book adds a different view of his relationships and reclusiveness. I would have enjoyed more of his conflicts with the creationists. It is short enjoyable read for the history of science fan
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