Darwin's Armada : How Four Voyagers to Australasia Won the Battle for Evolution and Changed the World
2009. First edition, first printing. A fine, unmarked copy in a fine d/w.
Charles Darwin, HMS Beagle, 1831-36Sent to Cambridge to join the clergy, the young Darwin emerged with a passion for naturalism and an invitation to sail on a naval survey vessel to South America, New Zealand and Australia. That journey would change his life, and the course of modern science. Joseph Hooker, HMS Erebus, 1839-43Inspired by Darwin's Voyage of the Beagle, assistant-surgeon Hooker undertook his own dramatic voyage of exploration, from the Cook Islands to the Antarctic via the high society of Hobart. His botanical research added critical evidence ti Darwin's developing ideas on evolution, and he became Darwin's closest ally. Thomas Huxley, HMS Rattlesnake, 1846-50'Darwin's Bulldog' would become evolution's most effective champion against the clergy (coining the term agnostic'). As a brilliant, ascerbic young man, Huxley was determined to make his name through discoveries in marine biology in the Southern Hemisphere - but his most improbable discovery was that in Sydney he fell in love. Alfred Wallace, the Amazon and South-East Asia, 1848-66The least celebrated but perhaps the most brilliant of the four. During his many years in remote jungles as a professional specimen collector, the largely self-educated Wallace arrived independently at a theory of evolution by natural selection. He sent his idea to Darwin, precipitating a dramatic moral crisis and the writing of On the Origin of Species. Darwin's Armandais both a gripping adventure story and a brilliantly enlightening work of history, for the first time portraying the Darwinian revolution as a collective enterprise forged in Australasia. These four remarkable men did what one alone could not - combed the world for evidence of evolution by natural selection, and then fought tirelessly in the social and intellectual battle that followed its famous publication 150 years ago. Together they changed the world. Reviews- 'This is a wondrous story told by the most of eloquent of story-tellers. Iain McCalman has all the gifts- he unearths buried threads; distills complex thought, ambition, emotion and pure chance; tempers wit and irony with wonder; finds drama in profound ideas.' - Don Watson 'What a fine book this is! Deeply researched, skilfully constructed and written with engaging flair. It provides us with a memorable and often moving account of the greatest scientific achievements and momentous controversies of the nineteenth century.' - Henry Reynolds 'Darwin's Armada is a splendid achievement. Iain McCalman combines fine scholarship with enchanting narrative, the prose taut and vivid as he charts the course of the captain and his lieutenants toward the theory of evolution. Original in perspective, powerful in form, delightful in the reading.' - Peter Cochrane 'A fabulous account of the intertwined sea voyages which launched Darwinism. Like few other historians, but much like Charles Darwin himself, Iain McCalman has that happy combination of talents - rigorous accuracy, gleeful irreverence and narrative flair - which turns fact into something better than fiction.' - John Collee,scriptwriter, Master and Commander 'Our understanding of the origins of evolutionary theory itself evolves. Here is a fresh, lively account not just of Darwin but of a scientific cell, four men bound together by their discoveries in the southern hemisphere and their shared experience of life at sea.' - John Hirst 'Reads as a combination of Boy's Own travellers' tales stretching from the Amazon to Antarctica, and a scientific adventure story as racy as any historical novel.' The Guardian 'An extraor