The Beak of the Finch

  • by Jonathan Weiner
  • Narrated by Victor Bevine
  • 12 hrs and 17 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Pulitzer Prize, General Nonfiction, 1995
Rosemary and Peter Grant and those assisting them have spent 20 years on Daphne Major, an island in the Galapagos, studying natural selection. They recognize each individual bird on the island, when there are 400 at the time of the author's visit or when there are over a thousand. They have observed about 20 generations of finches - continuously. Jonathan Weiner follows these scientists as they watch Darwin's finches and come up with a new understanding of life itself.


Audible Editor Reviews

The subtitle of The Beak of the Finch — A Story of Evolution in Our Time — is the vital thematic thread of this groundbreaking Pulitzer Prize-winning book, rendered into audio by Victor Bevine’s masterful narrative performance. “Charles Darwin never witnessed natural selection in action,” states the author, Jonathan Weiner. But Princeton University professors Peter and Rosemary Grant have seen the evidence, in flourishing abundance, during their 20-year study of finches on the Galapagos Island of Daphne Major. The Grants and their assistants did so with the very finches that famously captured Darwin’s attention during his five-week exploration on the Galapagos Islands. “Evolution in our time” means that wherever there is life, the force that drives evolution, natural selection, is everywhere and always present. Evolutionary changes thus occur at a much more rapid pace than had been envisaged by Darwin, indeed, than had been thought by the Grants’ contemporary scientists. The stunning and startling beauty of this book is achieved through the convergence of an interesting collection of scientists, newly discovered findings about finches, great writing, and the extraordinary, ultra-exotic island of Daphne Major.
Victor Bevine narrates with a powerful, expressive voice, always actively modulating with the flow of the text, shifting his narrative delivery and tone with shifts of meaning, stress, and emphases, capped with a fluent on-the-mark narrative momentum. He has one of the most dynamically active voices in the business. His The Beak of the Finch narration is an expressive merging of the scientific and the polemic with the overflowing living biological island of wonder that is Daphne Major: its finches and the scientists studying them, the evidence gained from the research, and the island itself, which is unique even by the standards of the Galapagos Islands. Bevine is keenly and imaginatively in touch with everything in this book. He finds himself on this enchanted island that embodies, to a near miraculous degree, the driving force of life on earth. And these finches! With no fear of humans, they will land right on you: your hand, your head, your nose, into your cup of java. It is these finches, more specifically the beaks of the finches and the oscillating changes of size and shape within 20 years of research, that demonstrate evolution in rapid action and mark a fundamental change in our understanding of the theory of evolution. The spirit of Bevine’s inner cello is tuned to these extraordinary representatives of the life force, the scientists studying them, and the wondrous stage upon which these events take place, Daphne Major. —David Chasey


What the Critics Say

Pulitzer Prize, General Non-Fiction, 1995
AudioFile Earphones Award, 2010

"An engaging account of a seminal study that introduces the reader to Darwin and to the dedicated, tireless biologists who have proved him right." (Booklist)
"Narrator Victor Bevine’s English accents include Australian, American, and British, with seamless switches to Ecuadorian Spanish. He senses just the right pace for his well-pronounced deluge of scientific words and arguments. His enthusiasm for what the finch studies demonstrated heralds the Grants’ momentous contribution to our knowledge of biology today." (AudioFile)
"Evocative writing, exhaustive research, and Weiner's memorable portrait of the engaging Grants assure The Beak of the Finch membership in the select pantheon of science books that spark not just the intellect, but the imagination." (Washington Post Book World)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Fascinating in-depth look at evolution in action

A wonderful science/biology book that combines depth (the Galapagos finch study by Rosemary and Peter Grant) and breadth (impressive overview of Darwin's discoveries, and work by his scientific followers). Accessible to a non-biologist like me, while at the same time introducing many new concepts and insights from field studies. At times, the book seems to be written in a thriller style, with cliffhangers and plot turns that make you look forward to the next time you can spend time with this excellent book. Highly recommended.
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- Philip

More than birds here.

What made the experience of listening to The Beak of the Finch the most enjoyable?

The narrator.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Beak of the Finch?

At the end when the thoughts are being conclusive- It is so insightful that I will think about this book for the rest of my life. It affects my everyday living and I NEVER expected that from this book. I thought it was just going to be an interesting book about Darwin's finches and the people who have studied them.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Not really. There is just too much information and I need to process it in more than one sitting.

Any additional comments?

Sometimes there are a few too many details and measurements, but overall this is a really good book. Maybe great, well it would be great with a few less bird details.
I like bird stuff but what was the most amazing was side stories on other animals like the white and black moths in England etc. Wow!
Our planet is wonderful and after reading this my commitment to taking good care of it is even stronger.
You can never see the world the same again if you read this. We live on a beautiful planet and this book really gives a clear view of just how wonderful it is, thanks to the hard work of a lot of very patient people.

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- Lori

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-27-2010
  • Publisher: Audible Studios