Portrait of a Genius
A “riveting” (The Wall Street Journal) biography of one of the most influential and controversial scientists in Western history
Acclaimed historian and biographer Paul Johnson turns his keen eye on Charles Darwin, the towering figure whose work continues to spur scientific debate.
With his publication of On the Origin of Species, Darwin forever changed our concept of the world. While Johnson praises Darwin’s extraordinary skills as a natural scientist and his monumental achievements, he does not sidestep Darwin’s tragic failures as an anthropologist. Johnson argues that by applying his theory of natural selection to humans, Darwin provided a platform for the burgeoning eugenics movement. Lay readers and academics alike will enjoy this concise and unflinching exploration of Charles Darwin, a genius whose discoveries—even the flawed ones—add significant dimension to our understanding of his mind, the era in which he lived, and his everlasting impact on our world.
ONE: A Heritage of Genius, and Its Shadow
TWO: Education and Self-Education of a Scientist
THREE: The Loss of God
FOUR: The Making of a Masterpiece
FIVE: Among the Apes and Angels
SIX: How the Great Botanist Missed an Opportunity
SEVEN: Evils of Social Darwinism
EIGHT: Triumph and the Reversal of Natural Selection
Praise for Darwin:“Riveting . . . The 'genius’ of Paul Johnson’s biography of Charles Darwin is manifestly, impressively apparent [in his discussion of] On the Origin of Species.”
—Wall Street Journal
“Excellent and courageous.”
—Michael Flannery, author of Alfred Russel Wallace
“This little sketch reminds us why Darwin’s theory of natural selection endures and continues to provoke controversy.”
“This is a first-rate biography, one that brings Darwin and his ideas into brilliant focus.”
—History Book Club
"Characteristically pithy and incisive, the ever-popular Johnson offers a Darwin who will be much in demand."
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