The Reluctant Mr. Darwin

  • by David Quammen
  • Narrated by Grover Gardner
  • 7 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In September 1838, a young Englishman named Charles Darwin hit upon the idea that "natural selection" among competing individuals would lead to wondrous adaptations and species diversity. Twenty-one years passed between that epiphany and publication of On the Origin of Species. The human drama and scientific controversy of that time constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that illuminates this cautious naturalist who sparked an intellectual revolution. Drawing from Darwin's secret notebooks and personal letters, David Quammen has sketched a vivid life portrait of the man whose work remains controversial today.

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What the Critics Say

"Grover Gardner is a first-rate reader who seems genuinely to enjoy recounting the foibles of Darwin's life. An excellent general audience title." (Library Journal)
"As the author sifts through Darwin's developing insights and personality quirks...Gardner is perfectly alert to the author's subtle irony and humor....Portraying Darwin respectfully and fully aware of his stature, Quammen never loses sight of the Victorian roots that troubled Darwin all his life." (Audiofile)
"It's easy to hear why PW named Grover Gardner Narrator of the Year in '05. He uses inflection, stress, rhythm and his rich vocal range to create an easy and often amusing conversational style." (Publisher's Weekly)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Darwin portrait.

This is a well-written and entertaining book. It would be a fine introduction to Darwin and the Origin of Species. Grover Gardner is the best reader of non-fiction I have heard.
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- J B Tipton

A very pleasant surprise

I picked this one up during one of Audible's $5 sales. I didn't know much about it but, as a science enthusiast and educator, I wanted to know more about Darwin and gave it a try. I finished it with a deeper reverence for Darwin's genius and an understanding of who he was as a human and scholar.

I enjoyed the writer's style and appreciate the amount of research he did to help the reader understand what Darwin's contemporaries believed. It's rather a mystery to us now that Darwin conceived of natural selection and let decades pass without publishing (see Bryson's "Short History of Nearly Everything"). This book explains why Darwin delayed and helped me better understand natural selection and, as I said, Darwin's genius to conceive of it at a time when other "biologists" attributed everything to God's handiwork. Give it a try and I think you'll enjoy!
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- Lucas

Book Details

  • Release Date: 08-31-2007
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.