Having thoroughly enjoyed several of Quammen’s other books, I’m a bit sad that I didn’t really feel enthusiastic about this one — especially because I do have a great interest in Darwin, the early theories of evolution and the reaction to them in society. I mean, we’re still seeing that reaction now: I know people who don’t believe in evolution forming new species; I know people who are not convinced by the proofs we have; and various people somewhere in between. And this is an idea that’s in our general consciousness, unlike — for example — electron shells.
But the long descriptions of the incubation of Darwin’s idea are, well, long. And often totally speculative, alas. We have so many records of Darwin, but of course they don’t necessarily answer the questions we really want answered. All in all, this just… didn’t captivate me as I would’ve liked, despite reminding me that by all accounts I think I quite like Darwin as a person as well as a scientist.