Review – Darwin’s Ghost

Cover of Darwin's Ghost by Steve JonesDarwin’s Ghost, Steve Jones

I really like the idea of Darwin’s Ghost, taking and updating Darwin’s groundbreaking research, and often showing how relevant it still is, how little of it has actually been disproved. Often people who criticise Darwin haven’t actually read On the Origin of Species, and so they have an inaccurate understanding of what he actually said. Steve Jones goes through all of this in quite a lot of detail, giving modern examples and correcting things where Darwin didn’t quite get it right.

That thoroughness does make the book pretty hard going, though. The topic doesn’t have to be — I’ve read another explanation of the early transmission and spread of HIV, for example, which wasn’t boring at all (though it had other faults) — but Jones’ writing ends up feeling rather stodgy. I’m completely fascinated by the subject, and reasonably knowledgeable about it, so if I thought that… I don’t know what other readers would make of it.

The main effect seems to have been to make me really want to read On the Origin of Species; I’m told that Darwin’s prose is quite readable and even interesting, and comparing it to the view of it I got from this book will be interesting.

Rating: 3/5

7 thoughts on “Review – Darwin’s Ghost

  1. All the most serious flaws with Darwin’s theory are presented by him in The Origin of Species itself – which is a major reason for my admiration of him. Origin of Species is heavy going compared to Voyage of the Beagle which is an easy read, but doesn’t treat of evolution.

    • Yes, he seriously thought things through and presented all his thoughts on the matters at hand. I’m looking forward to reading Darwin’s work, just… finding time.

      • Some-one gave me a copy of Origin of Species as a Graduation present! I didn’t like to tell him I’d already read that exact edition…

  2. I actually really liked On the Origin of Species and so I will have to see about reading this! An update sounds fantastic, even if it is a little stodgy.

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