History of Science

The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial

by Peter Goodchild
Los Angeles: L.A. Theater Works, 2001. (Audio cassette.)

Based on the original trial transcripts from the Scopes trial, this recording of the radio drama The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial features a bravura performance by Edward Asner as William Jennings Bryan. A reviewer for the Wall Street Journal commented, "the trial itself is heard as it happened, and is all the more dramatic for being true. ... while I doubt it'll change many minds in Harrisburg [where the trial in Kitzmiller v. Dover was then being conducted], or anywhere else, it still makes for a thought-provoking show."

History, Humanity and Evolution: Essays for John C. Greene

edited by James R. Moore
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 444 pages.

A collection of essays in honor of the eminent historian of science John C. Greene, History, Humanity, and Evolution includes essays by Roy Porter on Erasmus Darwin, Adrian Desmond on Lamarckism and democracy, Jim Secord on Robert Chambers and Vestiges of Creation, Martin Rudwick on nineteenth-century visual representations of the deep past, Peter J. Bowler on degeneration and orthogenesis in theories of human evolution, and John R. Durant on Darwinian religion in the twentieth century.

The Darwin Legend

by James R. Moore
Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1994. 218 pages.

Did Darwin recant evolution on his deathbed, telling Lady Hope, "How I wish I had not expressed my theory of evolution as I have done"? No — yet the legend continues to circulate among creationists. In his monograph, Moore judiciously assessed the evidence for the story and pondered its significance, arguing that it is important to understand Darwin and his religious development on their own terms.

Charles Darwin

by Adrian Desmond, Janet Browne, and James Moore
New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 136 pages.

A slender but authoritative biography of Darwin, written by three of the top Darwin scholars working today, based on the biographical entry from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and published in Oxford University Press's Very Interesting People series. "Having almost a hundred years of Darwin-related research between the three of us, we have managed the unwieldy subject by triangulating between different sides," the authors explain.

Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent

by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
New York: Little, Brown, 2006. 288 pages.

Pilgrim on the Great Bird Continent interweaves a biographical sketch of Darwin that emphasizes his ornithological work together with extensive personal details from Haupt's own experience in the field, with birds, and in the conservation movement. Reviewing the book for RNCSE, Paul Lawrence Farber wrote, "Darwin's humanity, humility, and observational acuity emerge in her telling of his life seen through the lens of his interest in birds.

Taking Wing

by Pat Shipman
New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. 336 pages.

From the publisher: "In 1861, just a few years after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, a scientist named Hermann von Meyer made an amazing discovery. Hidden in the Bavarian region of Germany was a fossil skeleton so exquisitely preserved that its wings and feathers were as obvious as its reptilian jaws and tail. This transitional creature offered tangible proof of Darwin's theory of evolution. Hailed as the First Bird, Archaeopteryx has remained the subject of heated debates for the last 140 years.

Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy: The Life and Science of Ernst Mayr 1904-2005

by Jürgen Haffer
New York: Springer, 2007. 474 pages.

As Jürgen Haffer's title suggests, the late Ernst Mayr — a member of NCSE — was a towering figure in several fields, including ornithology. (He coauthored a book on the birds of northern Melanesia in 2001 — at the age of 97!) Reviewing Ornithology, Evolution, and Philosophy for a recent issue of Evolution: Education and Outreach, Ulrich Kutschera wrote, "After reading Haffer's comprehensive biography, we have to conclude that Ernst Mayr may be regarded as the 'Einstein of the modern life sciences.' This first biography ...

Remarkable Creatures: Epic Adventures in the Search for the Origin of Species

by Sean B. Carroll
New York: Harcourt Houghton Mifflin, 2009. 352 pages.

In Remarkable Creatures, Sean B. Carroll — one of the principal architects of evolutionary developmental biology ("evo devo") — turns his attention to the history of evolutionary theory, offering vignettes of the explorers, from Darwin’s day to ours, whose discoveries provided the evidential basis for modern biology. Neil Shubin writes, "In addition to being one of our most distinguished scientists, Sean Carroll is a gifted storyteller.

The Cambridge Companion to the Origin of Species

edited by Robert J Richards and Michael Ruse
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. 424 pages.

From the publisher: "This Companion commemorates the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species and examines its main arguments. Drawing on the expertise of leading authorities in the field, it also provides the contexts — religious, social, political, literary, and philosophical — in which the Origin was composed.

Darwin's Origin of Species: A Biography

by Janet Browne
New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006. 320 pages.

The author of Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place here turns her attention to the Origin, providing a brief but scintillating account of its composition and reception. "[T]he Origin of Species was clearly a major publishing event that spectacularly altered the nature of discussion on the question of origins," Browne writes in her concluding chapter.