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Charles Darwin was just twenty-two when he went on his first voyage around the world in 1831. Darwin's father at first refused to allow his young son to go on the voyage. Fortunately, his father relented, and Darwin's journal is now considered by many to be the greatest scientific travel narrative ever written. Revised by the author in 1860, this is an account of his expe Charles Darwin was just twenty-two when he went on his first voyage around the world in 1831. Darwin's father at first refused to allow his young son to go on the voyage. Fortunately, his father relented, and Darwin's journal is now considered by many to be the greatest scientific travel narrative ever written. Revised by the author in 1860, this is an account of his experiences on the HMS Beagle, a ship that was mapping the coast of South America. What was set to be a two- or three-year voyage stretched out to a five-year adventure. Darwin took copious notes during the voyage, notes that would later lead to his formulation of the theory of evolution. He was able to observe coral reefs, fossil-filled rocks, earthquakes, and more, firsthand, and then make his own deductions.


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Charles Darwin was just twenty-two when he went on his first voyage around the world in 1831. Darwin's father at first refused to allow his young son to go on the voyage. Fortunately, his father relented, and Darwin's journal is now considered by many to be the greatest scientific travel narrative ever written. Revised by the author in 1860, this is an account of his expe Charles Darwin was just twenty-two when he went on his first voyage around the world in 1831. Darwin's father at first refused to allow his young son to go on the voyage. Fortunately, his father relented, and Darwin's journal is now considered by many to be the greatest scientific travel narrative ever written. Revised by the author in 1860, this is an account of his experiences on the HMS Beagle, a ship that was mapping the coast of South America. What was set to be a two- or three-year voyage stretched out to a five-year adventure. Darwin took copious notes during the voyage, notes that would later lead to his formulation of the theory of evolution. He was able to observe coral reefs, fossil-filled rocks, earthquakes, and more, firsthand, and then make his own deductions.

30 review for The Voyage of the Beagle, with eBook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roy Lotz

    This book is really a rare treasure. Is there anything comparable? Here we have the very man whose ideas have revolutionized completely our understanding of life, writing with charm about the very voyage which sparked and shaped his thinking on the subject. And even if this book wasn’t a window into the mind of one of history’s most influential thinkers, it would still be entertaining on its own merits. Indeed, the public at the time thought so, making Darwin into a bestselling author. I can har This book is really a rare treasure. Is there anything comparable? Here we have the very man whose ideas have revolutionized completely our understanding of life, writing with charm about the very voyage which sparked and shaped his thinking on the subject. And even if this book wasn’t a window into the mind of one of history’s most influential thinkers, it would still be entertaining on its own merits. Indeed, the public at the time thought so, making Darwin into a bestselling author. I can hardly imagine how fascinating it would have been for a nineteenth-century Englishman to read about the strange men and beasts in different parts of the world. Today the world is so flat that almost nothing can surprise. But what this book has lost in exotic charm, it makes up for in historical interest; for now it is a fascinating glimpse into the world 150 years ago. Through Darwin’s narrative, we both look out at the world as it was, and into the mind of a charming man. And Darwin was charming. How strange it is that one of today’s most vicious debates—creationism vs. evolution, religion vs. science—was ignited by somebody as mild-mannered and likable as Mr. Darwin. His most outstanding characteristic is his curiosity; everything Darwin sees, he wants to learn about: “In England any person fond of natural history enjoys in his walks a great advantage, by always having something to attract his attention; but in these fertile climates, teeming with life, the attractions are so numerous, that he is scarcely able to walk at all.” As a result, the range of topics touched upon in this volume is extraordinary: botany, entomology, geology, anthropology, paleontology—the list goes on. Darwin collects and dissects every creature he can get his hands on; he examines fish, birds, mammals, insects, spiders. (Admittedly, the descriptions of anatomy and geological strata were often so detailed as to be tedious; Darwin, though brilliant, could be very dry.) In the course of these descriptions, Darwin also indulged in quite a bit of speculation, offering an interesting glimpse into both his thought-process and the state of science at that time. (I wonder if any edition includes follow-ups of these conjectures; it would’ve been interesting to see how they panned out.) In retrospect, it is almost unsurprising that Darwin came up with his theory of evolution, for he encounters many things that are perplexing and inexplicable without it. Darwin finds fossils of extinct megafauna, and wonders how animals so large could have perished completely. He famously sees examples of one body-plan being adapted—like a theme and variations—in the finches of the Galapagos Islands. He also notes that the fauna and flora on those islands are related to, though quite different from, that in mainland South America. (If life there was created separately, why wouldn’t it be completely different? And if it was indeed descended from the animals on the mainland, what made it change?) Darwin also sees abundant examples of convergent evolution—two distinct evolutionary lines producing similar results in similar circumstances—in Australia: A little time before this I had been lying on a sunny bank, and was reflecting on the strange character of the animals in this country as compared with the rest of the world. An unbeliever in everything but his own reason might exclaim, ‘Two distinct Creators must have been at work; their object, however, has been the same & certainly the end in each case is complete.’ More surprisingly, Darwin finds that animals in isolated, uninhabited islands tend to have no fear of humans. And, strangely enough, an individual animal from these islands can’t even be taught to fear humans. Why, Darwin asks, does an individual bird in Europe fear humans, even though it's never been harmed by one? And why can’t you train an individual bird from an isolated island to fear humans? My favorite anecdote is of Darwin repeatedly throwing a turtle into the water, and having it return to him again and again—because, as Darwin notes, its natural predators are ocean-bound, and it has adapted to see the land as a place of safety. Darwin also manages to walk right up to an unwary fox and kill it with his geological hammer. You can see how all of these experiences, so odd without a theory of evolution, become clear as day when Darwin’s ideas are embraced. Indeed, many are still textbook examples of the implications of his theories. This book would have been extraordinary just for the light it sheds on Darwin’s early experiences in biology, but it contains many entertaining anecdotes as well. It is almost a Bildungsroman: we see the young Darwin, a respectable Englishman, astounded and amazed by the wide world. He encounters odd creatures, meets strange men, and travels through bizarre landscapes. And, like all good coming of age stories, he often makes a fool of himself: The main difficulty in using either a lazo or bolas, is to ride so well, as to be able at full speed, and while suddenly turning about, to whirl them so steadily about the head, as to take aim: on foot any person would soon learn the art. One day, as I was amusing myself by galloping and whirling the balls round my head, by accident the free one struck a bush; and its revolving motion being thus destroyed, it immediately fell to the ground, and like magic caught one hind leg of my horse; the other ball was then jerked out of my hand, and the horse fairly secured. Luckily he was an old practiced animal, and knew what it meant; otherwise he would probably have kicked till he had thrown himself down. The Gauchos roared with laughter; they cried they had seen every sort of animal caught, but had never before seen a man caught by himself. At this point, I’m tempted to get carried away and include all of the many quotes that I liked. Darwin writes movingly about the horrors of slavery, he includes some vivid description of “savages,” and even tells some funny stories. But I’ll leave these quotes to be discovered by the curious reader, who, in his passage through the pages of this book, will indulge in a voyage far more comfortable than, and perhaps half as fascinating as, Darwin’s own. At the very least, the fortunate reader need not fear exotic diseases (Darwin suffered from ill health the rest of his days) or heed Darwin's warning to the potential traveler at sea: “If a person suffer much from sea-sickness, let him weigh it heavily in the balance. I speak from experience: it is no trifling evil which may be cured in a week."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    The Beagle was sent on a surveying mission by the Royal Navy; initially it was intended to last three years but it was extended to five and the ship circumnavigated the globe. The captain, Fitzroy, wanted a companion on the voyage and through a convoluted series of events, ended up with a youthful Darwin along, which so annoyed the official ship's Naturalist who was also the surgeon (as was common), that he resigned and left at the first port of call, part way across the Atlantic. Fortunately an The Beagle was sent on a surveying mission by the Royal Navy; initially it was intended to last three years but it was extended to five and the ship circumnavigated the globe. The captain, Fitzroy, wanted a companion on the voyage and through a convoluted series of events, ended up with a youthful Darwin along, which so annoyed the official ship's Naturalist who was also the surgeon (as was common), that he resigned and left at the first port of call, part way across the Atlantic. Fortunately another surgeon was appointed at the same port. Very little of what Darwin wrote actually talks about the oceans...this is because he was no great sailor and spent most of his time aboard acutely seasick. Which, in turn, is why Darwin contrived to spend three out of five years on land! All this and more is discussed in an excellent introduction to this edition, which has printed the 1st edition, abridging Darwin's journal by approx. 1/3, however. I'm not sure how to feel about that; have I been saved from really dull stuff that would have made what is a pretty lively book a chore to read? Or have I missed out on some interesting material? Weirdly, having made this 1/3 chop, the original Naval orders for the mission are included along with Fitzroy's essay attempting to reconcile the Bible (specifically the Deluge i.e. the Noah story) with contemporary geology. Even more weirdly both of these appendices are worthwhile. The mission orders are very practical and sensible and as specific as practicable and not, as I imagined they would be, vague and bureaucratic. Fitzroy's essay reminded me of the kind of thing that went on in Oxford and Cambridge in the Middle Ages, where people devoted themselves primarily to attempting to reconcile reality with the Classical philosophers and the Bible, deploying a lot of casuistry and not much else for the most part. (Roger Bacon being a notable exception and look what happened to him - yep, locked up by he Church for practising black magic.) The fact is that even at the time of Beagle's voyage, it was clear that the Earth had to be orders of magnitude older than the historical record (with Genesis taken at face value) suggested and literal belief in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, was crumbling amongst the educated scientists. Christianity itself was still axiomatic for most, however and Darwin no exception at the time as cannot be mistaken from this book. Getting back to Darwin and his book, the Voyage is a rarely dull, often vivacious account not only of the flora and fauna Darwin encounters but also of the geology, people and societies he encounters, too, the latter providing most of the funny and dramatic moments, of which there are many. I cannot recommend it to people uninterested in geology and biology, however. Readers who cannot cope with such entries as a detailed theory of the formation of coral reefs (still considered correct as far as it goes, I believe) will get bogged down quite often. That said, anyone who has successfully waded through The Origin of Species will find this an easy ride by comparison. Darwin displays an interesting blend of progressive attitudes (e.g. anti-slavery) and typical-of-his-day Victorian Christian notions (e.g. Christian Western Europe is the pinnacle of human societies) whilst observing on the many different nations and cultures he encounters alongside the wildlife and geology. Apparently the people of Tierra Del Feugo are the "least improved" on the planet. What you won't find here is a theory of evolution, the question of the origin of species arising only a few times and then very obliquely and in passing. In conclusion, nowhere near as important as Origin of Species but much more fun to read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    This is not the correct edition. Mine is published by Recorded Books, read by John Franklin Robbins, & is just selections from the book, about 4.5 hours long, with additional material - a really good biography. It was short & to the point. It's been a long time since I last read this, but I think I liked it in audio better than in print. Darwin's prose is perfect for being read out loud. Everyone always talks about Darwin's theories on evolution which makes it tough to remember that he w This is not the correct edition. Mine is published by Recorded Books, read by John Franklin Robbins, & is just selections from the book, about 4.5 hours long, with additional material - a really good biography. It was short & to the point. It's been a long time since I last read this, but I think I liked it in audio better than in print. Darwin's prose is perfect for being read out loud. Everyone always talks about Darwin's theories on evolution which makes it tough to remember that he was an all around natural philosopher. These selections actually contained more on geology & the natives than evolution. Of course, he uses both to support the theory of evolution & since we're all fairly familiar with it now, these selections really help show just how much knowledge he brought to bear. He was incredibly well read & didn't come up with his theories in a void. He constantly refers to the work of others, many of them natural philosophers who had studied other areas & species. He & Wallace were just the first to unify this knowledge. It was really interesting to listen to his opinions on native peoples, especially on slavery which was rampant around the world at the time. He mentions how children were bought for a mere button from some of the native tribes. As horrifying as that was, he was more horrified by how slaves were broken by their Spanish masters & yet he was remote when he described how some natives would cannibalize their old women for food before they would eat their dogs. If nothing else, this is an excellent reminder of how far the world has come in a mere 150 years. I can't recommend this highly enough. After listening to this, I'm going to have to listen to the full book some time soon.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    Darwin's own account of the, now almost legendary, five year voyage of the Beagle is an entertaining, illuminating and fascinating read. Darwin writes with such enthusiasm that it's difficult not to be swept up in the journey and the remarkable things he witnessed and studied as he circumnavigated the globe. The only thing I found slightly disappointing was Darwin's attitude towards some of the peoples (or, as he refers to them, 'savages') he interacted with on his trek. Darwin was famously anti- Darwin's own account of the, now almost legendary, five year voyage of the Beagle is an entertaining, illuminating and fascinating read. Darwin writes with such enthusiasm that it's difficult not to be swept up in the journey and the remarkable things he witnessed and studied as he circumnavigated the globe. The only thing I found slightly disappointing was Darwin's attitude towards some of the peoples (or, as he refers to them, 'savages') he interacted with on his trek. Darwin was famously anti-slavery but it becomes painfully clear in the reading of this book that he did not object to slavery because he saw slaves as equal human beings suffering a horrific injustice but rather he objected to slavery in the same way somebody today might object to cruelty to animals. He took pity on slaves but he still regarded them as lesser beings. His views may have been progressive for his time but, perhaps unrealistically, I'd hoped for more.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    This book is Charles Darwin's journal of his 5-year voyage on the HMS Beagle. This journey marked the second of Captain Fitzroy and the Beagle but the first for 22-year-old Charles Darwin, who had decided to become a naturalist like Alexander von Humboldt. Darwin had stopped studying medicine and refused to become a priest so the persuasion of an uncle was necessary for Charles' father to allow (and fund) the journey in the first place. But he did. They went from England to Tenerife, Cape Verde, Ba This book is Charles Darwin's journal of his 5-year voyage on the HMS Beagle. This journey marked the second of Captain Fitzroy and the Beagle but the first for 22-year-old Charles Darwin, who had decided to become a naturalist like Alexander von Humboldt. Darwin had stopped studying medicine and refused to become a priest so the persuasion of an uncle was necessary for Charles' father to allow (and fund) the journey in the first place. But he did. They went from England to Tenerife, Cape Verde, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, the Falkland Islands, Valparaiso, Lima, the Galápagos Islands, before leaving South America to sail on to New Zealand, Sidney, Hobart (Tasmania) and King George's Sound in Australia, Cocos Island, Mauritius, Cape Town, then back to Bahia, Cape Verde and the Azores before returning to England. Thus, they were on quite a tight schedule which explains why Darwin's time on the Galápagos was cut short - an important detail because he made his most profound discoveries there that later resulted in his most famous work and if he had had more time, maybe he would have remembered to label those finches and/or keep at least one tortoise for his studies (but more of that in my review for The Origin of Species). While the Beagle was a relatively small ship, Darwin nevertheless filled her to the brim with specimen - some sailors getting enthused and helping him, much to the dismay of a few others. He always kept a meticulous journal that served as a diary as much as a study book where he jutted down all his observations. Thus, we can not only see, while reading this book now, what he discovered but also what his thought process was like. We read of him being severely seasick at first, his fascination with nature, we find out that he was anti-slavery (sadly, not for the same pure reasons Humboldt had), what he thought of certain people he was with or encountered along the way. We also see the influence of his paternal grandfather Erasmus Darwin, who had laid a few of the foundations of Darwin's theories just like Humboldt had. A note on Darwin's view of indiginous people. Certainly, some thoughts he wrote down are cringeworthy from today's perspective and were especially disappointing after initially learning that he was anti-slavery. However, for a man of his day and age (not counting the unapologetic anomaly that was Humboldt) he was very progressive. What I loved above all else was that we get to revel in Darwin's beautiful writing style that brings to life the sea, jungles and various animals and plants. He had a way of transporting the reader to the places he had been to and I felt as if I was making the journey with him while reading this. This vivid writing style, that made this journal appear almost like a novel, really surprised and delighted me as I had not expected it. In fact, I got so swept up in the narrative that I found myself sitting at the edge of my seat whenever Darwin's musings showed him getting close to the scientific truth but not quite despite me knowing that it would take him a little longer yet. A fantastic feat and I love that my edition shows sketches by Darwin himself as well as paintings of landscapes he's been to or animals (now extinct) that he encountered. However, for all those wanting the highlights of the journey, I can also recommend the audio version narrated by Dawkins which I listened to simultaneously (I know, ME endorsing an abridged version, the scandal)! ;)

  6. 5 out of 5

    J.L. Sutton

    Fascinating glimpse on Darwin’s early impressions of race, slavery, decolonization, the dichotomy of savagery and civilization, and the survival of the fittest (as well as his descriptions of a wide variety of fauna and stunning natural scenery)

  7. 5 out of 5

    John

    Commanders in the Royal Navy could not socialize with their crew. They ate their meals alone-- then they met with the officers on board ship. This took it's mental toll on the ship's Captain's and so they were allowed a "civil" companion-- someone from outside the Navy who would be under their command but was not part of the crew. Captain Fitz Roy (age 26), a Nobleman and a passionate Naturalist chose Charles Darwin (a wealthy, upper-class Naturalist "enthusiast") to be his companion aboard the Commanders in the Royal Navy could not socialize with their crew. They ate their meals alone-- then they met with the officers on board ship. This took it's mental toll on the ship's Captain's and so they were allowed a "civil" companion-- someone from outside the Navy who would be under their command but was not part of the crew. Captain Fitz Roy (age 26), a Nobleman and a passionate Naturalist chose Charles Darwin (a wealthy, upper-class Naturalist "enthusiast") to be his companion aboard the HMS Beagle for the five year voyage to map Patagonia and Tierra del Feugo and circumnavigate the globe. What I found most interesting about this book was how easy it is to read and enjoy. It is the edited journal of Charles Darwin during his voyage on HMS Beagle, yes, but it reads like a travel channel show with Darwin as your host. This is not the old, "Origin of Species" Darwin with his long white beard and noble, wisely appearance. This is just-out-of-college Darwin, looking for adventure. He's 24 years old, he knows nothing, he wants to see everything, he is good natured, idealistic, and full of questions. It's like he's on a cruise ship (which happens to be a ship-of-war) and he only has a few days at each port to "party" and see all the sights ("Naturalist gone Wild!"). What makes the journals enjoyable is that this is not a young man who thinks he has all the answers. He is aware of his inexperience and unfamiliarity with every surrounding he finds himself in and relies on interviews with others (locals, magistrates, natives, scientists) to fill in the blanks. He is smart. He accumulates facts. He writes them down. He expresses brief opinions. He gathers more facts. He has adventures. And here and there a light clicks on. We see something start to dawn on him. He doesn't put it together (that will come years later) but all the information he needs to formulate his later theories is here-- he just doesn't see it. But we do! And that's the fun of reading these journals: watching this young man grow up on this five year voyage. What makes this an extraordinary read is that we know how it ends. This book is a little like watching The Sixth Sense a second time (after you know the twist) to watch all the clues missed the first time-- knowing that years later-- Darwin will see the twist.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Peter Mcloughlin

    I know Darwin's epic voyage was important for his development of the theory of natural selection and evolution and I have read Origin of Species and other works, The Voyage of the Beagle doesn't grab me like his other works. I suppose I am not much a fan of Travel literature. Just not my thing. Don't interpret my rating as a downing of the book. It is just not my thing and I do like Darwin's other works.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Gilly McGillicuddy

    What I wrote in my LJ while I was reading it. _ So I've started reading The Voyage of the Beagle. I've only read a chapter or so so far, but it's very enjoyable. I just kind of wish I'd paid more attention to my geology classes in school. It's a lot more relaxed and not nearly as self-conscious and defensive as TOoS was. It's all along the lines of "Hi all! We arrived on Random Island today. The trees are pretty but the people didn't even give us coffee. Can you believe it?! Anyhoo, I found a rock What I wrote in my LJ while I was reading it. _ So I've started reading The Voyage of the Beagle. I've only read a chapter or so so far, but it's very enjoyable. I just kind of wish I'd paid more attention to my geology classes in school. It's a lot more relaxed and not nearly as self-conscious and defensive as TOoS was. It's all along the lines of "Hi all! We arrived on Random Island today. The trees are pretty but the people didn't even give us coffee. Can you believe it?! Anyhoo, I found a rock that turned out to be bird shit, and a octopus spat in my face today. Yay! It was the happiest moment of my life. More tomorrow! Byeeee!" Very adorable. He also keeps hitting things with his geological hammer. _ I'm still reading the VotB as well, which really is a bit of an adventure novel, not in the least because it really reads like a diary, and because Darwin seems to have a healthy sense of humour about himself. Every other page he seems to make a fool of himself in some way or another. Also, he seems surprisingly humble and insecure in his naturalistic findings. He records and very tentatively makes links, but at this point most of the big work seems to be done by the people he sent his samples back to. He also really seems to fanboy Humboldt, to be a staunch abolitionist, and I am sure he really pissed FitzRoy off when he carried eight or nine dinosaur skeletons on board. _ Also, another Darwin quote that I just read in the bath: The captain at last said, he had one question to ask me, which he should be very much obliged if I would answer with all truth. I trembled to think how deeply scientific it would be: it was, "Whether the ladies of Buenos Ayres were not the handsomest in the world." I replied, like a renegade, "Charmingly so." He added, "I have one other question: Do ladies in any other part of the world wear such large combs?" I solemnly assured him that they did not. They were absolutely delighted. The captain exclaimed, "Look there! a man who has seen half the world says it is the case; we always thought so, but now we know it." My excellent judgment in combs and beauty procured me a most hospitable reception; the captain forced me to take his bed, and he would sleep on his recado. This book is too fricking amusing. ____ Yet more Darwin, because I might as well keep you updated now. We're in Patagonia and have just gone on an upriver hike/boatride to the Cordilleras. I've found out I read these books much like I read naval passages in Patrick O'Brian. It's not like I skip anything and I get the main gist and it makes sense while I'm reading, but I don't actually retain it all by a long, long, long shot. Impressions stay and I learn some new things if only through repetition, but a lot of it I lose again almost immediately. Darwin keeps referencing Jack Byron's accounts now and I feel so very guilty for not remembering a lot of these things. So yes, aside from a series of clear impressions and a few remembered names for each region, there is disturbingly little I remember. Humboldt would have bitchslapped me long ago. (At least I have the consolation that Darwin apparently always carried a few books with him to identify species with. That eases the sting a bit.) Also, points to you, Wordsworth Editions, for not translating the French passages. In any case, out of all the period accounts by naturalists that I've read so far, this is by far the most fun, the most entertaining, and the most readable. I'd recommend it to anyone who wants to play around with this natural science business, not in the least because Darwin shows so much of himself. Humboldt (much as I love him) only occasionally mentioned Bonpland and only very rarely himself. Darwin stays more in the tradition of; well, I'm tempted to say Stephen Maturin's journal. No romantic woes or anything, but scientific observations coupled with observations on the people he travels with coupled with "God, I'm so cold and wet and miserable and I just want to be shot of this place". It's nice. Also, animals are cute in this. From condors to spiders to foxes to armadillos. You get the feeling that if he'd known it, he would definitely have chosen "Boom de Yadda" as his personal theme song. _ Ch 11 and 12 on the next leg of the journey with Darwin, leaving Patagonia and heading for Chile. All I still want to remark upon on the Patagonian side (where he went on a very wide tangent on the heights of snow-lines and the descent of glaciers and his usual geological geekery and sort of lost me, though he did warn the reader they could skip this bit if they weren't interested, which is very civil in him), that apparently he's read all of the different accounts related to the loss of the Wager as well. Hee! He references Byron, Bulkeley and Cummins, and Anson! Be still, my squeeful heart. Now we're in Valparaiso where *sings* the sky is blue, and all the leaves are green. The sun's as hot as a baked potato! And he probably feels like it's a shpadoinkel day. And of course, fandoms cross again when he visits Cochrane's old hacienda of Quintero. Also, this phrase just made me chortle: "...a relation of the great author Finis, who wrote all books!" Oh Charlie, you dork. ^____^ _ Today in the life of Darwin. Or rather, January 1835 in the life of Darwin. Or more precisely, stuff what I just read in the bath. Hokay, so we're still running around Chile visiting people, clambering through forests, and clocking animals with geological hammers in the time-honoured tradition of naturalists everywhere. When... DISASTER! Earthquakes! Volcanoes erupting! Mayhem! Destruction! Death! And Darwin somehow has the gall to say this: "From this circumstance Concepcion, although not so completely desolated, was a more terrible, and if I may so call it, picturesque sight." Picturesque?! Picturesque? No, Darwin, you may not call it that. Idiota. Anyway, this sets him off. Geology is his baby and there's now pages upon pages of gleeful rambling about fault lines and tectonic plates and the effect of time and islands raised and drowned etc etc. Now there's two more chapters ahead of me in Cochrane country Valparaiso and then heigh ho, off to the Galapagos to clock some finches, turtles and aquatic land animals. _ Galapagos Chapter, everybody knows this. _ Darwin. He's mopy and grumpy and really not liking Waimate, or anything about the south island of New Zealand at all, though most of New Zealand is getting shot down for being a bunch of war-crazy, ugly, uncivilized, filthy barbarians with ugly tattoos. He's not getting much work done and people keep randomly shooting at other people and he's in a funk. A deep funk. Stupid island. Stupid tattoos. Stupid orcs. This in GREAT contrast to Tahiti which to him for just the little time he was there was heaven on earth. Everybody was friendly and smiling, there was food everywhere that tasted divine, the people were so much better looking than Westerners, and oh, he just adored the tattoos. I mean, he really really liked those Tahitian tattoos. Did he mention loving the tattoos yet? And how handsome people are? It must be the tattoos. He's not ready to say much in favour for against the missionaries there since he says he's read conflicting accounts by people who have been there for far, far longer than he has and therefore should know a lot better, but I think Darwin has left a tiny little piece of his heart there. __ Hokay, I just had a bit of a longer reading session just now and finished the Voyage of the Beagle. By now I've sort of gotten used to reporting the good bits back to LJ here, so you try to keep them in your mind as you read on. I was going to mention how some people at Waimate have partially redeemed New Zealand in his eyes, how very very mixed his impression of Australia was, I was going to go over his thoughts on atolls and barrier reefs (strangely uninteresting for someone who has grown up on the National Geographic channel and takes all these things for granted), his descriptions of Keeling Island, Mauritius and Ascension. But then... oh then he went home. And that last chapter is so beautiful, people, you have no idea. It's personal, emotional and wonderful and just for the joy of reading this one chapter alone I would more than recommend this book. He talks with immense and very real regret about his inability to put into words all that he has seen, he launches into the most spirited rages and rants against the injustices of slavery, he remembers fondly the scenes he thought the most beautiful, the scenes he thought the most horrific, and the scenes he knew would be the most memorable in the end. He talks about the people he has met with such warmth of feeling, and at the very end he addresses any young, budding naturalists who might be reading. I feel like it would be a great shame not to pass this on: "But I have too deeply enjoyed the voyage, not to recommend any naturalist, although he must not expect to be so fortunate in his companions as I have been, to take all chances, and to start, on travels by land if possible, if otherwise, on a long voyage. He may feel assured, he will meet with no difficulties or dangers, excepting in rare cases, nearly so bad as he beforehand anticipates. In a moral point of view, the effect ought to be, to teach him good-humoured patience, freedom from selfishness, the habit of acting for himself, and of making the best of every occurrence. In short, he ought to partake of the characteristic qualities of most sailors. Travelling ought also to teach him distrust; but at the same time he will discover, how many truly kind-hearted people there are, with whom he never before had, or ever again will have any further communication, who yet are ready to offer him the most disinterested assistance." Charles Darwin, I love you.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    Upon matriculating into Loyola University's MA/PhD program in philosophy during the late summer of 1980, I was assigned to Bill Ellos as his teaching assistant. Bill, a deep-cover Jesuit, had come to Chicago from Washington State, having done some work there with educational film as well as being a university professor. His interests were diverse to say the least. His doctoral dissertation form the Pontifical Institute in Rome was on Wittgenstein, but the work he had me doing originally was most Upon matriculating into Loyola University's MA/PhD program in philosophy during the late summer of 1980, I was assigned to Bill Ellos as his teaching assistant. Bill, a deep-cover Jesuit, had come to Chicago from Washington State, having done some work there with educational film as well as being a university professor. His interests were diverse to say the least. His doctoral dissertation form the Pontifical Institute in Rome was on Wittgenstein, but the work he had me doing originally was mostly in medical ethics, sociobiology and the foundations of evolutionary theory. That meant a lot of reading for me, both of Wittgenstein and of Darwin and Wallace. Most of it was close reading in that he expected me to follow themes, to create indices relevant to his work. This was fine. I often was learning more from the research assistantship than from classwork. Besides, we only met occasionally and he got me assistantships every summer so I could literally take the work to Michigan and the beach in the warm months. Darwin's account of his researches while berthed as a gentleman scientist on HMS Beagle works as a travel book, but it is punctuated by the kinds of observations which led to his theory of natural selection. As such, it is recommended to anyone interested in the subject as an introduction to it. Too often we learn "science" from textbooks, presented as if received from on high as holy writ, and do not learn how the knowledge was obtained, the interpretations derived. The Voyage of the Beagle gives some of that background in a highly entertaining, even adventurous, fashion. The theory of evolution was not, of course, new with Darwin. One finds such speculation in the ancient Greeks. Kant's Anthropology speculates about our descent from simian ancestors. What Darwin did was to hypothesize an agent, natural selection, for such evolution and provide detailed data supporting his theory. I was fortunate to have four years and three summers of research assistantships at Loyola and doubly fortunate to be assigned, at least half-time, to Bill Ellos during most if not all of that period. Although I never took one of his medical ethics courses, he probably cared for my intellectual and professional development more than any other at the university. It was he who not only got me to read most of Wittgenstein, but also encouraged me to deliver a paper on the man and later publish it. It was he who got me interested and involved in fields beyond the ken of contemporary academic philosophy. Yet, throughout, I always had the sense that he was adjusting my work assignments somewhat, taking into account my own interests, potential interests and needs, not just his own. Towards the end of these assignments I learned that one was expected to spend about 16-20 hours weekly on one's assistantship. I was amazed, having spent more like 40 hours weekly at the flat rate of pay we all received. Still, it was worth it. I would have done much of it for Bill and form myself without recompense. At the end, after orals and after reaching the absolute limit on assistantship assignments, Bill took me out for dinner and conversation at a fine restaurant in Evanston. He needn't have done that, but the human touch, so characteristic of Bill, was much appreciated. I have no idea where Bill is now.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Duffy Pratt

    For a long time (too long), it looked like it was going to take me longer to read this book than it took the Beagle to sail around the world. Darwin was a brilliant man, and a fine writer. But the genre of naturalistic travel writings is just not for me. In a similar vein, I've also read some of Thoreau's travel writings, a less brilliant man but a better writer, and came away with the same feeling. In brief sections, I would find the book brilliant. But those brief sections would not be enough t For a long time (too long), it looked like it was going to take me longer to read this book than it took the Beagle to sail around the world. Darwin was a brilliant man, and a fine writer. But the genre of naturalistic travel writings is just not for me. In a similar vein, I've also read some of Thoreau's travel writings, a less brilliant man but a better writer, and came away with the same feeling. In brief sections, I would find the book brilliant. But those brief sections would not be enough to drive me forward. So instead, I had to plunge through longer pieces at a time, and the brilliance somehow turns to a dull slog. After not too long, I simply lose interest in how many varieties of insect he found on that other side of some obscure mountain in South America. Yeah, and I know that's my failing. In college, this book was required for several Freshman english classes, but thankfully not for mine. If I had been forced to read this in a couple of weeks or less, I might simply have dropped out. I did find it interesting to see how thoroughly Darwin, who was otherwise extremely open minded, clung to the notion of British nobility and how it contrasted with savagery. I can almost see how the Social Darwinists would come to pervert his theories, because his notions about the superiority of civilization, and of British civilization in particular, seem to point in that direction (even if they are strictly speaking irrelevant). The other thing that impressed me in this book was his acceptance that extinction is just part of the way of things. He blithely mentions the inevitable extinction of species at several points in the book. What a sharp contrast to the progressive environmentalists who seem to want to put an end to all extinctions, and think that it is somehow our duty. I wish I had liked this book more. There's not a whole lot that I found wrong with it, given what it is and what it was trying to do. On that score, it is exceptionally good. The only problem is, I guess, that I just don't like that sort of book, and I refuse to learn my lesson and stop reading them.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    Darwin was largely a paternalistic meliorist, who apparently genuinely believed that Europeans were improving people's lives through colonialism, missionaries, etc. This book reveals odd doubts, though. Darwin expresses agnostic puzzlement about oral histories telling of terrible plagues accompanying the arrival of Europeans. He's not sure how to believe it, and yet can't (quite) dismiss it--so he recommends further study (which, I might add, has confirmed the stories of epidemics in spades). Dar Darwin was largely a paternalistic meliorist, who apparently genuinely believed that Europeans were improving people's lives through colonialism, missionaries, etc. This book reveals odd doubts, though. Darwin expresses agnostic puzzlement about oral histories telling of terrible plagues accompanying the arrival of Europeans. He's not sure how to believe it, and yet can't (quite) dismiss it--so he recommends further study (which, I might add, has confirmed the stories of epidemics in spades). Darwin's detestation of slavery, however, was evidently genuine and horrified. He rejects apologies for the 'peculiar institution' with a vehemence rare in such a mild-mannered man. The adventure stories are interesting, and the naturalist notes fascinating. It might pay to get an illustrated edition--Darwin was a good writer, but not much of a draftsman, from what I can tell.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gijs Grob

    Darwin's 'The Voyage of the Beagle' is a strange mixture of ecstatic travel writing and keen scientific observation. Darwin's writing style is very dense and informative, but at times burst into strong emotional and very engaging writing. By all means this is powerful prose. Darwin not only makes very sharp observations on geology, nature and culture, he's also able to paint vivid pictures of the countries and islands he visits. His diary is of invaluable worth when describing nations and animals Darwin's 'The Voyage of the Beagle' is a strange mixture of ecstatic travel writing and keen scientific observation. Darwin's writing style is very dense and informative, but at times burst into strong emotional and very engaging writing. By all means this is powerful prose. Darwin not only makes very sharp observations on geology, nature and culture, he's also able to paint vivid pictures of the countries and islands he visits. His diary is of invaluable worth when describing nations and animals that since then have disappeared from the earth. Most of his book deals with South America (15 of 21 Chapters), where Darwin e.g. describes the life of gauchos and that of the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego, the South American wars on its native populations, and a severe earthquake. It's a pity Darwin could not visit New Zealand or Australia much longer, for they are only sketchily described. Even the much praised Galapagos islands only get one chapter. Among the numerous interesting passages I would like to single out Darwin's descriptions of extinct South American megafauna and the nature of extinction (Chapter 5, p. 72-74 & Chapter 8, p. 152-155), his account of a revolution (Chapter 7, 123-124), his disturbing description of the cruel Argentine wars against the native Americans (Chapter 8, p. 88-92), his description of a paradise-like Tahiti (Chapter 18, p. 358-370), his observations on the decline of aborigines in Australia (Chapter 19, p. 386-387), his dire, but sound and still viable theory on atoll forming (Chapter 20, p. 414-428), his keen account of the man-made extinctions on the isle of St. Helena (Chapter 21, p. 434-435), and his final thoughts and praise of travelling (Chapter 21, p. 444-449). Below a sample of striking passages from this book, to illustrate that Darwin's writings go way beyond dry descriptions of nature and its wonders: "St. Fé is a quiet little town, and is kept clean and in good order. The governor, Lopez, was a common soldier at the time of the revolution; but has now been seventeen years in power. This stability of government is owing to his tyrannical habits; for tyranny seems as yet better adapted to these countries than republicanism. The governor's favourite occupation is hunting Indians: a short time since he slaughtered forty-eight, and sold the children at the rate of three or four pounds apiece." (Chapter 7, p. 113) "Till the death of Francia, the Dictator of Paraguay, these two countries [Paraguay and Argentina] must remain distinct, as if placed on opposite sides of the globe. And when the old bloody-minded tyrant is gone to his long account, Paraguay will be torn by revolutions, violent in proportion to the previous unnatural calm. That country will have to learn, like every other South American state, that a republic cannot succeed till it contains a certain body of men imbued with the principles of justice and honour." (Chapter 7, p. 123) "A bad earthquake at once destroys our oldest associations: the earth, the very emblem of solidity, has moved between our feet like a thin crust over a fluid; - one second of time has created in the mind a strange idea of insecurity, which hours of reflection would not have produced. (.....) Earthquakes alone are sufficient to destroy the prosperity of any country. If beneath England the now inert subterranean forces should exert those powers, which most assuredly in former geological ages they have exerted, how completely would the entire condition of the country be changed! What would become of the lofty houses, thickly packed cities, great manufactories, the beautiful public and private edifices? If the new period of disturbance were first to commence by some great earthquake in the dead of the night, how terrific would be the carnage! England would at once be bankrupt; all papers, records, and accounts would from that moment be lost. Government being unable to collect taxes, and failing to maintain its authority, the hand of violence and rapine would remain uncontrolled. In every large town famine would go forth, pestilence and death following in its train." (Chapter 14, p. 268 & 271) "The rivers which flow in these valleys ought rather to be called mountain-torrents. Their inclination is very great, and their water the colour of mud. The roar which the Maypu amde, as it rushed over the great rounded fragments, was like that of the sea. Amidst the din of rushing waters, the noise from the stones, as they rattled one over another, was most distinctly audible even from a distance. This rattling noise, night and day, may be heard along the whole course of the torrent. The sound spoke eloquently to the geologist; the thousands and thousands of stones, which, striking against each other, made the one dull uniform sound, were all hurrying in one direction. It was like thinking on time, where the minute that now glides past is irrevocable. So was it with these stones; the ocean is their eternity, and each note of that wild music told of one more step towards their destiny. It is not possible for the mind to comprehend, except by a slow process, any effect which is produced by a cause repeated so often, that the multiplier itself conveys an idea, not more definite than the savage implies when he points to the hairs of his head. As often as I have seen beds of mud, sand, and shingle, accumulated to the thickness of many thousand feet, I have felt inclined to exclaim that causes, such as the present rivers and the present beaches, could never have ground down and produced such masses. But, on the other hand, when listening to the rattling noise of these torrents, and calling to mind that whole races of animals have passed away from the face of the earth, and that during this whole period, night and day, these stones have gone rattling onwards in their course, I have thought to myself, can any mountains, any continent, withstand such waste?" (Chapter 15, p. 282-283) "On the 19th of August we finally left the shores of Brazil. I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew that I was powerless as a child even to remonstrate. (.....) It is argued that self-interest will prevent excessive cruelty; as if self-interest protected our domestic animals, which are far less likely than degraded slaves, to stir up the rage of their savage masters. It is an argument long since protested against with noble feeling, and strikingly exemplified, by the ever-illustrious Humboldt. It is often attempted to palliate slavery by comparing the state of slaves with our poorer countrymen: if the misery of our poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institution, great is our sin; but how this bears on slavery, I cannot see; as well might the use of the thumb-screw be defended in one land, by showing that men in another land suffered from some dreadful disease. Those who look tenderly at the slave owner, and with a cold heart at the slave, never seem to put themselves into the position of the latter; what a cheerless prospect, with not even a hope of change! picture yourself the chance, ever hanging over you, of your wife and your little children - those objects which nature urges even the slave to call his own - being torn from you and sold like beasts to the first bidder! And these deeds are done and palliated by men, who profess to love their neighbours as themselves, who believe in God, and pray that his Will be done on earth! It makes one's blood boil, yet heart tremble, to think that we Englishmen and our American descendants, with their boastful cry of liberty, have been and are so guilty: but it is a consolation to reflect, that we at least have made a greater sacrifice, than ever made by any nation, to expiate our sin." (Chapter 21, p. 443-444). The National Geographic edition is a lazy edition: the text is presented with an index, but without any notes, rendering some of Darwin's observations puzzling to even incomprehensible. What I surely missed were modern commentaries on his findings, speculations and theories.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Stephen McQuiggan

    I'd rather have a barbed wire enema than read about the strata of granite or the formation of basalt - but once you wade through the geology you realize what a gem this book is. It's very much of its time - there's an underlying superiority in his talk of 'savages' and civilized man, a by-product of Britain's rampant colonialism - but it is drenched with wonder too. Darwin's joy at unexplored nature is infectious, and his frequent descriptions of the indigenous tribes of S. America are fascinati I'd rather have a barbed wire enema than read about the strata of granite or the formation of basalt - but once you wade through the geology you realize what a gem this book is. It's very much of its time - there's an underlying superiority in his talk of 'savages' and civilized man, a by-product of Britain's rampant colonialism - but it is drenched with wonder too. Darwin's joy at unexplored nature is infectious, and his frequent descriptions of the indigenous tribes of S. America are fascinating; and in the case of Jemmy Button and York Minster, slightly tragic. The world seems so much bigger here. When he wasn't knocking foxes on the skull with a rock hammer, Darwin was digging up some deep questions.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ Jenn Ƹ̴Ӂ̴Ʒ

    Darwin definitely keep detailed accounts of his encounters with the indigenous population & wasn't especially cruel but continued to distinguish people as either civilized or barbaric. I loved the geographic, geological, & zoological accounts of his travel journal.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Elliott Bignell

    This beautifully-written account of Darwin's formative voyage presents sides of him that will surprise many 21st-Century readers. It is probably well understood by now that Darwin did not see the finches of the Galapagos and experience a crash of evolutionary transcendence like an incoming Pterodactyl. He developed the theory patiently over the subsequent decades, and his experiences in his five years with the "Beagle" only contributed retrospectively. But the fact is that he was at this time al This beautifully-written account of Darwin's formative voyage presents sides of him that will surprise many 21st-Century readers. It is probably well understood by now that Darwin did not see the finches of the Galapagos and experience a crash of evolutionary transcendence like an incoming Pterodactyl. He developed the theory patiently over the subsequent decades, and his experiences in his five years with the "Beagle" only contributed retrospectively. But the fact is that he was at this time already speaking in terms of a inherent life-expectancy for species. He, and the scientific world, in other words, already understood that species end. It was only later that he came to describe how they are born. At the same time, although clearly enthusiastic about Lyellian gradualism, he was still speaking unambiguously as a British Christian who saw the Christianisation of defenceless native peoples as a good. He may, indeed, never have abandoned his Christianity entirely, but from the perspective of today's Darwin Wars, this is an unaccustomed image of the man. An appendix provides useful context from Caption FitzRoy's attempt to counter Darwin's Lyellianism with a form of flood geology. To my mind this attempt is hopelessly confused, but it is perhaps not immediately obvious to a reader today why I would find incongruity in Darwin's combining Christian sentiment with Lyellian geology. The answer, found in FitzRoy's apologetic, is that many Christians at the time saw a self-evident conflict between young-Earth Scriptural catastrophism and ancient-Earth gradualism. About a quarter or more of the book is devoted to descriptions of the peoples and cultures he encounters, and a very humane side of him is apparent. Darwin was clearly horrified at slavery and the genocides of native Americans, even while apologising for the inroads of Christianity among "savage" peoples. He is frequently admiring of the physical presence and capabilities of wild humanity, but clearly prefers civilisation. No experience seems to escape his notice, from cooking style to the strata of mountains and from the number of beetle species to the effects of introduced grazing mammals. The Victorians, inveterate collectors, had a tendency to acquisitive observation and Darwin was far from the only person on board making such copious observations and samples. The privations and opportunities of this voyage were manifold, and it appears that the ship remained in communication with the Empire through periodic port calls, at which times Darwin was dispatching specimens and notes back to Britain, while the crew were able to receive mail! Darwin, as a consequence, arrived home with his reputation as a leading man of science secured. This account has been amended subsequent to the voyage with credit given here and there to absent collaborators. I was as a young teenager a huge fan of books by Gerald Durrell and David Attenborough. Darwin is Durrell on steroids. If you have a science-inclined teenager available, give them this book, as it is no detraction from either other author to say that I wish I had had this book back then. It is a treasure-trove of natural history anecdotes while at the same time being a true classic in the history of science, and at the same time more accessible than "Origin of Species", the magnum opus, itself. As Darwin probably did more to shape the modern scientific mind than any other single contributor, that makes this voyage one of the most significant in history. For that reason alone I would recommend anyone read this account. That it is a joy to read is an incidental benefit

  17. 4 out of 5

    David

    Darwin traveled aboard the H.M.S. Beagle in the 1830's, stopping at the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and all over South America in the five year journey. This work chronicles the events of the trip itself and reads partly as a traveler's journal and partly as a detailed description of the natural surroundings by a scientist. Stopping at the Galapagos Islands resulted in the formulation of a new theory which changed the face of modern science, but the voyage was apparently f Darwin traveled aboard the H.M.S. Beagle in the 1830's, stopping at the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, Australia, and all over South America in the five year journey. This work chronicles the events of the trip itself and reads partly as a traveler's journal and partly as a detailed description of the natural surroundings by a scientist. Stopping at the Galapagos Islands resulted in the formulation of a new theory which changed the face of modern science, but the voyage was apparently full of many interesting events and constitutes quite an interesting and readable adventure. The book lets you really get to know Charles Darwin in as personal a way as is possible for culture and writing style of this time period. He comes across as a humble man, showing respect for all peoples and animals he encounters. It's well known that Darwin was sharply critical of slavery (one of several reasons he felt it important to later publish The Descent Of Man), and it comes across in this book often to the point of pure rage. He makes a point to show how unashamed he is of treating different races of people as all equal from the biological perspective. He does however make a strong distinction between peoples he finds to be kind, hospitable, civilized, moral, and those peoples who are brash, free-loading, and "savage". Not a politically correct term any longer, but by no means is he being racist. He speaks the highest praise of the native Polynesians of Tahiti, harping on their grace, elegance, and civil nature, yet is easily exhausted by their Maori cousins of New Zealand who seem to him unnecessarily violent and un-civilized (owing probably most to their use of a slave class, which again he hates). The trek is full of long excursions and not just the simple little port visits I had imagined. He spends weeks or sometimes months off the ship and surveying the countryside and its peoples. The crew stops at a port and then Darwin and a shipmate or two would procure guides and horses/mules to take long trips to the tops of mountains, to volcanoes, through primeval forests, across desolate Patagonian plains, up rivers, to tributary islands, deep into the countryside of the Australian outback, and many other places. Each place he visits he describes his surroundings in Tolkien-esque detail, making it easy to visualize these places. Sometimes he's visiting these places simply to see and write about them, but often he's gathering specimens of plants, insects, and animals to take back to the ship and study. He spends much of the time then dissecting the animals and looking at various specimens under his microscope. Aside from the total variety of experiences, what makes this book truly enjoyable is his wit. What could perhaps be difficult subject matter he makes easy to understand and the entire account is made interesting because of the humorous way he describes his exploits or the quirks of some of the people he encounters. He gathered one animal specimen by sneaking up behind him and hitting it on the head with his geological hammer. When he observed the giant tortoise would drop to the ground and pull into his shell when alerted to him, he then crept onto his back and surfed the turtle for awhile until he fell off. He has such a dry wit but it enlivens even the dreariest subject matter. Above all the book shows what it means to go into the unknown with a sense of adventure, humility and wonder. Darwin's personality seems ideally suited for the rigors and challenges of a global journey to so many wild places and yet to come away with a treasure of scientific insight that helped modern man better understand the natural world.

  18. 5 out of 5

    keith koenigsberg

    The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin (w-1839 r-12/2006 hrs-9). A captivating narrative of scientific exploration, and probably the best adventure travel book I've ever read. Certain to uplift your mind and your spirit. First, although he is occasionally a bit long-winded in a Victorian way, and also occasionally goes into deep scientific detail which the modern lay reader will be tempted to skim, the majorioty of the volume is terse, modern, and exciting. Second, there is an actual adventu The Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin (w-1839 r-12/2006 hrs-9). A captivating narrative of scientific exploration, and probably the best adventure travel book I've ever read. Certain to uplift your mind and your spirit. First, although he is occasionally a bit long-winded in a Victorian way, and also occasionally goes into deep scientific detail which the modern lay reader will be tempted to skim, the majorioty of the volume is terse, modern, and exciting. Second, there is an actual adventure, as Darwin relates his personal experiences ascending jungle rivers and distant mountains, avoiding bandits and hostile Indians, mingling with savages and roughnecks, eating whatever grub they have to offer and sleeping with them under the stars. The wildlife he encounters poses a certain danger, though he rarely mentions it; thus when he describes the "great black bug of the Pampas," which gorged itself on his blood one night in Chile, he left out the fact that it was probably the source of the Chagas disease that plagued him for the rest of his life. Third, it is the work of popular science, comprised of his acute observations and his intuitive reflections upon them, first made in the field, afterwards contemplated at home and then enriched by careful reading. As a result, it preserves the thrill, the intellectual stimulation and the scientific discoveries of a historical exploration. It lives up to the blurb that one editor, Leonard Engel, gave it: "The greatest scientific travel adventure ever written." And its achievement does not end there. THE VOYAGE is a testament to one man's curiosity--his insatiable curiosity about practically every stone, plant and bug that he happens to see, and his wonder about how they got that way. (Side note: he collected and taxidermed seemingly hundreds, maybe thousands of plants and animals on the spot. How on earth did he transport several tons of collections back home?) He makes you feel that, with the right attitude, you can walk out in your yard and make your own discoveries. Whether describing the spider that sails through the air on its own web, the gaucho who strips naked to swim his horse across a river, the face of a man habituated to slavery (which Darwin rails against), Darwin's eye is keen and his heart is warm. (It is entertaining, though to see that he was in many respects a man of his time, ranking the "savages" as to their intelligence and their potential to be "civilized" and "Christianized". He is often less PC than you would hope.) Reading this book, one returns to a time when mankind believed in progress, when one bright young man could respond to the wonders of the world and find an eager audience. All the while, of course, he was seeking natural explanations for the mysteries of creation and gravitating toward his theory of evolution. So THE VOYAGE succeeds on all levels: it is a classic of scientific investigation, a noble literary work and a monument of the human spirit.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gwern

    Frequently exceedingly dry and of no interest except to naturalists, and probably not always them either: Darwin's voyage was so long ago that much of his information and speculation is simply outdated (his talk of 'miasmas' is one instance where later information makes his material of purely historical interest). If one is reading it for background on evolution and _Origin of Species_, one will be disappointed: there are a handful of lines in the main part of the work which may be taken as prefi Frequently exceedingly dry and of no interest except to naturalists, and probably not always them either: Darwin's voyage was so long ago that much of his information and speculation is simply outdated (his talk of 'miasmas' is one instance where later information makes his material of purely historical interest). If one is reading it for background on evolution and _Origin of Species_, one will be disappointed: there are a handful of lines in the main part of the work which may be taken as prefiguring or groping towards evolution, and then there's some speculation in the surprisingly short Galapagos section (I suspect he spends as much time describing the gauchos' methods of horsemanship and dealing with cattle as he does on all of the Galapagos material!). In general, the 'pacing' is quite odd: reams of material on South America, some pages on the Galapagos, a dash to New Zealand & Australia, a long section on islands and 'cacao-nuts' (coconuts), a mini-monograph on coral atolls, and the book abruptly ends. Which is not to say he doesn't occasionally drop in interesting or acute observations, for he does. (The shepherd-dog of South America quite took my fancy, for example.) They are just rare welcome morsels in the general desert of this door-stopper. If I had to recommend it to my past self, I would tell him to skip the bulk but to read the Tierra del Fuego sections where the events are both interesting and evocative of the long uncivilized past of man (and perhaps his future), the Galapagos section for its substantial historical interest, and maybe the brief conclusion. ---- My National Geographic anniversary edition is substantially lacking in additional material; there is surprisingly little about its reception, what contributions it made, where it was prescient and where it was wrong (disturbing, since one doesn't know what mistakes, misimpressions, outdated information, plausible yet wrong speculation, etc. one might be absorbing over the 400+ pages). As well, Darwin's original illustrations would benefit mightily from additional material like color photographs and maps.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rob

    This book obviously shows its age as a work of science writing, but it is a magnificent travelogue. Darwin's voyage, detailed in this account, transformed his beliefs and laid the groundwork for his theories of evolution. His descriptions of the indigenous peoples he encountered, as well as the fellow expatriates and travelers he met, make for an entertaining cast of characters, set against an ever-changing, but continually marvelous background of islands and foreign lands. We meet a wide range This book obviously shows its age as a work of science writing, but it is a magnificent travelogue. Darwin's voyage, detailed in this account, transformed his beliefs and laid the groundwork for his theories of evolution. His descriptions of the indigenous peoples he encountered, as well as the fellow expatriates and travelers he met, make for an entertaining cast of characters, set against an ever-changing, but continually marvelous background of islands and foreign lands. We meet a wide range of fascinating people throughout the trip: the Fuegians of Tierra del Fuego, gauchos of Argentina, and the New Zealander Maoris and the British in Australia. Darwin's reflections on civilized man vs. native man are interesting, but a little prejudiced by his generation's mores. Nevertheless, it would make interesting ground for discussion. The science discussed in this book is elementary by today's standard. In fact, Darwin's conclusions are so seemingly obvious that it's difficult to believe that this voyage and his discoveries established his presence in the scientific community. On one hand, this makes sense because he first became popular for the fossil collecting he did on this journey. On the other hand, his apparently obvious theorizing may be a testament to his importance as a scientist because it is so ubiquitous today. The things we "know" today, even as children, were great mysteries of nature at one point, and Darwin is one of the most important illuminating voices in human history. I think this would be a great choice for young adults, even junior high aged students. The writing may be a little dense and difficult for young readers from time to time, but it is a coming of age story, full of fantastic adventures that shock and entertain. The ideas Darwin mulls over in this diary are still relevant today, and there's little in this book as controversial as his theories in On the Origin of Species. I would love to teach this book to my students one day, but I don't know if that will ever be a possibility. The book is in the public domain and available online here: http://www.literature.org/authors/dar...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mary Soderstrom

    The Best Book I Ever Read on a Holiday We're going to take a little vacation, and along with getting house-sitters lined up, I've been thinking about what to take to read. Don't know yet, but I keep coming back to the best book I ever read while on a trip. It's Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle. Now available as a free pdf, 35 years ago the edition I took along was a quality paperback that still is in one piece despite being consulted many times. It was just the right size to tuck in a backpack or The Best Book I Ever Read on a Holiday We're going to take a little vacation, and along with getting house-sitters lined up, I've been thinking about what to take to read. Don't know yet, but I keep coming back to the best book I ever read while on a trip. It's Darwin's The Voyage of the Beagle. Now available as a free pdf, 35 years ago the edition I took along was a quality paperback that still is in one piece despite being consulted many times. It was just the right size to tuck in a backpack or to pull out at night in the twilight as we canped our way the US headed for California. We hadn't been in Montreal very long, and this was our first trip back to visit family. We hiked quite a bit, and thought about what we were seeing. For example, I couldn't figure out the geography of the Colorado Plateau: how did all those layers of sedimentary rocks exposed by the Colorado river at the Grand Canyon come into being? I'd done some reading about the Sierra Nevada before we left California a few years befoe, so I had some idea about uplift and mountain building. The theory of plate tectonics was just being elaborated too, so there was much uncertainty about how things all happened. A couple of text books picked up once back in Montreal helped me make sense of things. But Darwin had no textbooks to explain the many things he saw in the five year voyage around the world. His observations were his own, rendered with the enthusiasm of a young man (he was only 22 when he started out) and were pertinent enough to guide his thinking until the end of his life. Definitely worth reading!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Shawn

    This was Darwin's journal from his 5 year voyage on the Beagle. It predates his famous theory on evolution, but is where it all started. This is a book that should come with a disclaimer. Although it is fascinating to read the work that started it all, one must take a moment to realize when it was written. It is painfully racist. I had to remind myself many times that this was in the early 1800s, but his references to natives as savages and these cultures being inferior to his own, and his nonch This was Darwin's journal from his 5 year voyage on the Beagle. It predates his famous theory on evolution, but is where it all started. This is a book that should come with a disclaimer. Although it is fascinating to read the work that started it all, one must take a moment to realize when it was written. It is painfully racist. I had to remind myself many times that this was in the early 1800s, but his references to natives as savages and these cultures being inferior to his own, and his nonchalance on these people getting shot down almost had me stopping this book several times, but I powered through it and, well, I'm not sure I really had to. I am not an evolutionary biologist with a love of the history of the field. I am an amateur who loves science, of which there is very little in this book that isn't found elsewhere in other books. If you really must read Darwin, read On the Origin of Species, the racism is much more subdued and if you want to learn more about evolution, read something more modern, it got really interesting once genes and DNA were discovered. So my take away is that, yes, this book is historically significant and shouldn't be burned or destroyed or anything, but it's also not a book that needs to be read by any but the most interested in Darwin and evolution. I wouldn't recommend reading this book, but I wouldn't not recommend it either, I'd just give a warning on it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brett

    A book replete with historical value and awash with interesting tidbits scattered through the text. In the Voyage of the Beagle, written by young Darwin during his five years on the ship and in its many ports, we are treated to the earliest notions that would ultimately become ideas of such tremendous force that they would change the way we think of ourselves in relation to all of nature. But those reviews that suggest this is a laugh-a-minute travelogue are a bit ingenuous. There are many intere A book replete with historical value and awash with interesting tidbits scattered through the text. In the Voyage of the Beagle, written by young Darwin during his five years on the ship and in its many ports, we are treated to the earliest notions that would ultimately become ideas of such tremendous force that they would change the way we think of ourselves in relation to all of nature. But those reviews that suggest this is a laugh-a-minute travelogue are a bit ingenuous. There are many interesting passages where Darwin observes foreign cultures, describes patterns in nature, and generally reflects on his experiences. There are also lots of long sections devoted to cataloging beetles and spiders or theorizing on the origins of various types of reefs. This is important scientific material, but not exactly compelling reading to dilettantes such as myself. The best part of the book is feeling very smart, because we know where Darwin's observations will eventually lead, even though he does not yet realize it. So we can see the ideas just forming an outline and gain a little window into what it looks like right at the beginning of something that will soon become an avalanche.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Katya Epstein

    I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was a delight for me to discover that Charles Darwin was a real geek, brimming with an enthusiasm for all things geological or entomological (or zoological) that shines through in spite of the incredibly dry and haughty reading by David Case (I was listening to the audiobook). Darwin went on an unimaginably wild five-year adventure all the way around the world, but he refers only in passing to any of the danger or drama encountered: To him the fossils and geo I really enjoyed this book a lot. It was a delight for me to discover that Charles Darwin was a real geek, brimming with an enthusiasm for all things geological or entomological (or zoological) that shines through in spite of the incredibly dry and haughty reading by David Case (I was listening to the audiobook). Darwin went on an unimaginably wild five-year adventure all the way around the world, but he refers only in passing to any of the danger or drama encountered: To him the fossils and geological strata are far more exciting. He seems to have lost his enthusiasm after crossing the Pacific, and his descriptions of New Zealand and Australia are peremptory and scathing compared to what came before, but he does regain some of his fervent curiousity upon theorizing about the origin of atolls (Edit: I recently read that the section on coral formations, while appearing in the book after their exploration of the Keeling/Cocos Islands, was actually written while they were crossing the Pacific. So it would appear that he lost his enthusiasm after Tahiti). I do wish I could have read an annotated and illustrated edition, because it can be hard to imagine the various animals described or the route taken, and Darwin provides no context for the Beagle's trip.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ardyth

    My first Darwin. Fascinating reading. Though he exhibits the quintessential British superiority complex which marked his time, there's no denying his CURIOSITY was extraordinary. His notes were meticulous, and I imagine in person he was as pesky as a 21st century four year old. Some readers will find all this detail makes for dry reading, but I thought it was an inspiring lesson in attention and careful reflection on the information one has gathered on a topic. Darwin also remarks on less scient My first Darwin. Fascinating reading. Though he exhibits the quintessential British superiority complex which marked his time, there's no denying his CURIOSITY was extraordinary. His notes were meticulous, and I imagine in person he was as pesky as a 21st century four year old. Some readers will find all this detail makes for dry reading, but I thought it was an inspiring lesson in attention and careful reflection on the information one has gathered on a topic. Darwin also remarks on less scientific topics which occurred to him during the voyage: slavery, God, his good luck in being born British, and even a bit on global politics of the time. He closes with a discussion of whether travelling around the world is to be recommended or no. All this in the journal of a new graduate, young and fresh and excitable. I can see why it was a hit. Highly recommend.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 'Darwin changed forever our understanding of life on Earth'. Jo Stone-Fewings reads from the journal of his historic voyage. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00hkbwd

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael Huang

    I have to confess that I'm a card-carrying Darwin fanboy: The theory of evolution is clearly one of the pinnacles of scientific discoveries. Darwin deserves enormous respect for articulating the theory. His thoughts had been gradually formed thanks to his earlier work, including the observations made on the voyage of the Beagle. It would blasphemous for me to rate the book about Darwin's celebrated trip described in great details by the great man himself anything but 5-stars. The Galapagos islan I have to confess that I'm a card-carrying Darwin fanboy: The theory of evolution is clearly one of the pinnacles of scientific discoveries. Darwin deserves enormous respect for articulating the theory. His thoughts had been gradually formed thanks to his earlier work, including the observations made on the voyage of the Beagle. It would blasphemous for me to rate the book about Darwin's celebrated trip described in great details by the great man himself anything but 5-stars. The Galapagos islands, Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia... Thanks to Darwin, these places have always been the places of legend since my childhood. It is on the eve of my upcoming pilgrim trip to the Galapagos islands that I am reading the book for, shall we say, spiritual ablution. In this book, you'll find out about descriptions of the amazing nature and about the great man himself: his work ethics, his intellect, and his profound humanism. Here are a few examples: "We must feel greatly astonished at the force of a shock of lightning, which, striking the sand in several places, has formed cylinders, in one instance of at least thirty feet long..." If Darwin had cameras back then, he would predate those viral pictures of sand sculptured by lightning by nearly two centuries. "I had scarcely been twenty hours without water, and only part of the time under a hot sun, yet the thirst rendered me very weak. How people survive two or three days under such circumstance, I can not imagine..." "Our resting-house was so dirty that I preferred sleeping outside: on these journeys the first night is generally very uncomfortable, because one is not accustomed to the tickling and biting of the fleas." Welcome to 19th century luxury cruise. "A gun is here almost superfluous; for with the muzzle I pushed a hawk off the branch of a tree." God, please have one of those hawks stay on a nearby branch when I visit the Galapagos. "On the 19th of August we finally left the shores of Brazil. I thank God, I shall never again visit a slave-country. To this day, if I hear a distant scream, it recalls with painful vividness my feelings, when passing a house near Pernambuco, I heard the most pitiable moans, and could not but suspect that some poor slave was being tortured, yet knew I was as powerless as a child even to remonstrate." "Travel ought also to teach him distrust; but at the same time he will discover, how many truly kind-hearted people there are, with whom he never before had, or ever again will have any further communication, who yet are ready to offer him the most disinterested assistance." We often hear things along this line in TED talks of the modern travelers. Did you know those were 180-years old echos of Darwin's closing sentence of "The Voyage of the Beagle"?

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aurélien Thomas

    I read this because, interested in biology and evolution, everything to do with Darwin picks my curiosity; and I was curious about the backgrounds to his major contribution -descent with modification through natural selection. I wasn't disappointed! I wasn't much interested in his views of various places and encounters with foreign people. Harsh as it sounds, such passages to me read like a touristic brochure and they felt off my hands. I acknowledge his strong stances against slavery (he witnesse I read this because, interested in biology and evolution, everything to do with Darwin picks my curiosity; and I was curious about the backgrounds to his major contribution -descent with modification through natural selection. I wasn't disappointed! I wasn't much interested in his views of various places and encounters with foreign people. Harsh as it sounds, such passages to me read like a touristic brochure and they felt off my hands. I acknowledge his strong stances against slavery (he witnessed it first hand in Brazil) while I was puzzled and shocked by his strong prejudices against some people, but all in all couldn't get really fussed about the human aspect. Readers with an interest in anthropology will have to forgive me... What really fascinated me is the inspiring insight such diary gives into Darwin's mind. Biology, ecology, palaeontology, geology... His acute intellect embraced many fields, and what a brilliant ability for synthesis he had! His descriptions of animals and plants (including his nagging questioning about why so many different varieties of the same species) are enthralling. His skills in bringing together geology and the poor fossil records available to him to conjure up a better understanding of Earth history is admirable. His flair, even if vague as yet, for the long term consequences of human impact on ecology (e.g. the introduction of alien species into a given environment) is noticeable. Most of all, his ability to overlook even his own preconceived ideas to try and face facts as they are is more than remarkable. Gosh! Even his explanations on the formation of coral reefs is captivating (and still long-standing!). Depending on where your interest lies, this might be a bit dull at times (^^touristic brochure^^... Lol!) . But as a cornerstone in natural sciences, its wide ranging and right on spot insights cannot be underestimated. A very interesting read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ira Therebel

    Well first I would like to say that I read a shortened version. The extreme descriptions of nature that would be of more interest to a scientist than a regular person were removed. There were still a lot of descriptions of nature in the book. Darwin really writes everything he sees. It was pretty exciting reading about this journey of his. It is historically significant and I also can imagine how it must have been back then to travel and discover the world seeing new things one never saw. His des Well first I would like to say that I read a shortened version. The extreme descriptions of nature that would be of more interest to a scientist than a regular person were removed. There were still a lot of descriptions of nature in the book. Darwin really writes everything he sees. It was pretty exciting reading about this journey of his. It is historically significant and I also can imagine how it must have been back then to travel and discover the world seeing new things one never saw. His descriptions of the animals were pretty interesting. When it came to geological issues I could have lived without it. The chapter about Galapagos islands was great. This is the main reason I started to read this book since I am soon going there, although to different islands than the ones Darwin described. He also talks about people he sees living there and their cultures. I found it pretty interesting. He was pretty progressive and was against slavery where people were tortured and abuse of horses. People seem to be turned off by his disrespect to native cultures but I don't really agree. He spoke with a lot of interest and sometimes even admiration of them. He didn't consider their cultures as civilized as European ones. But back in the days before the world got touched by extreme political correctness it was fine not to consider a civilization where people make scientific researches, travel the world, live in houses to be equal to the one where people don't cultivate land, don't know the Earth is round, sleep just on the floor in the bushes etc.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gavin

    I believe that I had avoided this all my life because I had assumptions based upon Charles Darwin, I am so glad that I gave it a chance and throughly enjoyed the entire books as a scientific travel narrative. Mr. Darwin demonstrated an amazingly varied knowledge of a range of animal, astronomical, geologic, and plant world curiosity and collecting. I simply cannot imagine encountering someone in this day and age with such an encyclopedic grasp of what he saw and encountered. I had remarked in an I believe that I had avoided this all my life because I had assumptions based upon Charles Darwin, I am so glad that I gave it a chance and throughly enjoyed the entire books as a scientific travel narrative. Mr. Darwin demonstrated an amazingly varied knowledge of a range of animal, astronomical, geologic, and plant world curiosity and collecting. I simply cannot imagine encountering someone in this day and age with such an encyclopedic grasp of what he saw and encountered. I had remarked in an update about the similarity between Aubrey/Maturin and FitzRoy/Darwin and I think that carries throughout. A voyage over five years almost requires that type of companionship and certainly things were not always in agreement, but I think a respect underlined the entire voyage. This is the type of book that makes ME wish to be there to be one of the characters. In this case Darwin because of his knowledge. I have the E.O. Wilson FROM SO SIMPLE A BEGINNING slipcovered book of Darwin's four great works and I plan on dipping into that in its entirety this year. Simply astounded that Darwin could study barnacles alone in-depth along with his other studies. Highly recommended. And this David Case audio reading was superb.

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