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Publisher's Summary

Written 200 years after Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln shared a birthday on February 12, 1809, this insightful account sheds new light on two men who changed the way we think about the meaning of life and death.Award-winning journalist Adam Gopnik's unique perspective, combined with previously unexplored stories and figures, reveals two men planted firmly at the roots of modern views and liberal values.
©2009 Adam Gopnik; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
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By Joshua Kim on 06-10-12

Connecting Darwin and Lincoln

Darwin and LIncoln were both born on February 12, 1809. Gopnik takes this historical coincidence as a starting place to explore the lives and ideas of the two men who did more to shape modern society then perhaps any other pair, with one giving us the foundations for representative democracy supported by military power and the other providing a framework to understand the origins of and development of species. We can be Darwinist because we are the beneficiaries of the fruits of a wealthy liberal democracy, one that Lincoln cemented with his refusal to let the American experiment disintegrate through secession.

Gopnik is an essayist, not a historian, which if well and good for a short and personal book where the lives and ideas of the Great Men are explored in the context of contemporary ideas and struggles. Gopnik's thesis is that what ties Lincoln and Darwin together is their power over language, Lincoln in his speeches and Darwin in his books. This allows Gopnik to narrow his focus and play to his own strengths as a crafter of phrases.

If you read Angels and Ages expecting a biography of Darwin or LIncoln or a social history of their times you will be disappointed. However, if you approach the book as a long thought piece on the literary, scientific and cultural legacy of Lincoln and Darwin then you will spend a few hours delighting in words well strung together recounting some of the the phrases that define (and undergird) our modern world.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful


By Carl on 02-17-11

Much about writing style.

This book is not so much a historical account. It compares and contrasts the writing style, logical and rhetorical strategies, and their overall ways of seeing the world.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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