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Buffon: A Life in Natural History

by Jacques Roger
Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1997. 492 pages.

"If a man's destiny were written in his origins or his heredity, Buffon would have died president of the Burgundy parlement," Jacques Roger begins his biography of Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon and the premier French scientist of the Enlightenment. "That he had a passion for the sciences and became the greatest French naturalist is a sort of joke of nature, the result of a personal calling, and ultimately inexplicable." The reviewer for American Zoologist wrote, "Buffon is a work of great charm, interest, and importance. Anyone wanting to know about the life sciences in the eighteenth century will find it exceptionally rewarding."