You are here

America’s Darwin: Darwinian Theory and US Literary Culture

edited by Tina Gianquitto and Lydia Fisher

Athens (GA): University of Georgia Press, 2014. 400 pages.

According to reviewer Christoph Irmscher, America’s Darwin collects fourteen essays that chart, from different angles and with different methods, the ways in which American writers and scientists have tried to normalize Darwin’s heterodox vision and integrate it into the cultural fabric of a nation constitutionally averse to thinking that life has no definite purpose. ... after all these years, after torrents of ink spilled, we still haven’t quite caught up with that forward-thinking, barnacle-dissecting squire of Down House.”

Darwin and His Children: His Other Legacy

by Tim M. Berra

New York: Oxford University Press, 2013. 248 pages.

“At first glance, the topic of the lives of Darwin’s children may seem esoteric and trivial and only of interest to a few Darwinophiles,” writes reviewer Sara B. Hoot. “But reconsider. What better way to get a feel for a man’s character than through his interactions with his family?” She explains, “The first chapter covers Darwin’s life and accomplishments, the second discusses his marriage to Emma, and the remaining ten chapters offer biographical sketches for each of his ten children.”

Darwin: Portrait of a Genius

by Paul Johnson

New York: Viking, 2012. 164 pages.

Johnson’s biography of Darwin not only is derivative and unexciting but also “says some strange things,” writes reviewer John M. Lynch.

Dealing with Darwin: Place, Politics, and Rhetoric in Religious Engagements with Evolution

by David N. Livingstone

Baltimore (MD): The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014. 265 pages.

“Livingston believes that the controversies surrounding Darwinism always reflect the special circumstances of the place where they occurred,” writes reviewer J. David Hoeveler. “Thus, his ‘geographies  of reading’ take us to five locations in the British Isles  and North America ... Edinburgh, Belfast, Toronto,  Columbia, South Carolina, and Princeton, New Jersey.”  Overall, Hoeveler regards the book as “an informing  and suggestive examination of the Darwinian with “good guys and bad guys aplenty.”

From Eve to Evolution: Darwin, Science, and Women’s Rights in Gilded Age America

by Kimberly A. Hamlin

Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013. 256 pages.

According to reviewer Tina Gianquitto, From Eve to Evolution is mandatory reading “[f]or anyone curious about the reception of evolutionary theory by women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.” She explains that it “addresses a substantial void in our understanding of the reception and application of evolutionary theory in the United States, offering the first full-length investigation into women’s engagement with evolutionary theory and the role that the theory played in the women’s rights movement.”

In Praise of Darwin: George Romanes and the Evolution of a Darwinian Believer

by J. David Pleins

New York: Bloomsbury, 2014. 397 pages.

Darwin’s disciple George Romanes wrote a poem on the death of his mentor, and, reviewer John Holmes writes“Pleins has made Romanes’s poem available to modern readers in full, editing it from a recently rediscovered typescript and including it as an appendix to his new book In Praise of Darwin. ... Pleins’s lovingly attentive account of the poem is very helpful in teasing out its engagement with theological questions, Biblical sources, biographical events, and Darwinian evolution.”

Process and Providence: The Evolution Question at Princeton, 1845–1929

by Bradley J. Gundlach

Grand Rapids (MI): Wm B Eerdmans, 2013. 408 pages.

Reviewer Matthew Morris describes Process and Providence as providing “a richly detailed history of Presbyterian responses to the ‘evolution question’ as it developed at the College of New Jersey (today Princeton University) and the related but separate Princeton Theological Seminary” from 1845 to 1929. Despite its detail, Morris recommends the book “to anyone who would like a nuanced historical approach to science–faith interactions, and is not afraid to explore its implications for their preconceived beliefs.”

Storm of Words: Science, Religion, and Evolution in the Civil War Era

by Monte Harrell Hampton

Tuscaloosa (AL): University of  Alabama Press, 2014; 345 pages.

In the 1880s, James Woodrow lost his professorship at Columbia Theological Seminary over his views of evolution. “Hampton provides a thoughtful historical investigation of this episode, not only within its immediate Southern Presbyterian context but also within the broad regional and national culture of its day,” explains reviewer Walter H. Conser Jr., who concludes, “Storm of Words makes an excellent read not just for historians, but for anyone engaged in our own contemporary culture wars.”

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought

edited by Michael Ruse

New York: Cambridge University Press, 2013. 568 pages.

Ruse’s encyclopedia, if expensive, offers “a clear survey of the state of contemporary scholarship” on Darwin and his thought, including “a thirty-page introduction by Ruse which details in broad strokes Darwin’s life, his ideas, and their influence,” writes reviewer John M. Lynch.

The Monkey’s Voyage

by Alan de Queiroz

New York: Basic Books, 2014. 368 pages.

“In The Monkey’s Voyage, de Queiroz argues that long-distance dispersal is a crucial process in biogeography, and that vicariance biogeography, ‘while taking advantage of cladistics and incorporating continental drift, also made a turn down an intellectual cul-de-sac,’” writes reviewer Nicholas J. Matzke. “De Queiroz succeeds spectacularly, and I expect his book will serve as a key introduction for the next generation of biogeography students and biogeography fans."

Pages