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Darwin's Garden by Michael Boulter

Darwin's Garden (2008)

by Michael Boulter

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This book contains two distinct parts : the first dealing with the life and times of Darwin whilst he worked at Down House in Kent, the second discussing the broader scientific history and background to Darwin's ideas and how they have been developed up to the present.

The first part is easily the more enjoyable and insightful of the two, offering a very good biographical view on life at Down House, Darwin's surrounding family, co-scientists and the house and its gardens in general. Boulter is clearly a scientist with a strong ear for the role of narrative to explain and bring to life Darwin's life and times. He is interested in the relationships that Darwin held, the effect of illness and criticism upon Darwin and the anxiety Darwin felt about the impact his ideas would have.

The second part of the book, although soundly written and informative, is a more textbooky description of the actual science and scientists associated with evolution and genetics, taking us right up the present day. There is nothing particularly wrong with this half of the book, it just lacks the 'storytelling' feel of the first part. There also seemed to be a tendency to skim over, or not properly explain some of the scientific ideas discussed, and at other times some assumptions around prior knowledge of certain subjects were made.

But overall this is a book well worth reading and is a sound addition to the Darwin literature. ( )
  ngood77 | Nov 15, 2008 |
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This title reveals Charles Darwin's relationship with the place he loved and shows that the experiments he conducted over 150 years ago are still revealing new proofs and revelations as we continue to search for the origins of life.

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