History of Science

A Feeling for the Organism

by Evelyn Fox Keller
San Francisco: W. H. Freeman, 1983. 235 pages.

A scant five months after the original publication of Keller's biography in 1983, McClintock won the Nobel Prize for her discovery of mobile genetic elements — transposons, or "jumping genes". As Rollin Hotchkiss writes in the foreword, "Keller's calm recital of how McClintock faced professional gender hurdles and prejudices is factual reportage that can give every reader, male or female, a vicarious experience of these problems. Moreover, her analysis of McClintock's scientific work — in its broad context — describes some difficult aspects of modern genetics and itself constitutes a significant contribution to the broad history of thought."

A History of Genetics

by Alfred H. Sturtevant
Cold Spring Harbor, NY: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, 2001. 174 pages.

As one of Thomas Hunt Morgan's brightest students, Sturtevant was ideally placed to write his History, first published in 1965. Nobel laureate E. D. Miller (and student of Sturtevant) writes in his foreword, "The reprinting of this classic book provides students with one of the few authoritative, analytical works dealing with the early history of genetics. Those of us who had the privilege of knowing and working with Sturtevant benefited greatly from hearing first-hand his accounts of that history as he knew it and, in many instances, experienced it. Fortunately, Sturtevant put it all together in this book."

Attorney for the Damned: Clarence Darrow in the Courtroom

by Arthur Weinberg
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989. 552 pages.

Reprinted from the 1957 edition. "Clarence Darrow [was] perhaps the most effective courtroom opponent of cant, bigotry, and special privilege that our country has produced. All of Darrow's most celebrated pleas are here — in defense of Leopold and Loeb (1924), of Lieutenant Massie (1932), of Big Bill Haywood (1907), of [John] Thomas Scopes (1925), and of himself for attempted bribery," writes the reviewer for The New Yorker.

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."

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. "This slim book gives a composite portrait." Desmond and Moore collaborated to write Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist, while Browne wrote Charles Darwin: Voyaging and Charles Darwin: The Power of Place.

Charles Darwin's Letters: A Selection, 1825-1859

edited by Frederick Burkhardt
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 279 pages.

Frederick Burkhardt, coeditor of the complete edition of Darwin's collected correspondence, was obviously in the ideal position to choose just the right letters to provide unparalleled insight into the thoughts and adventures of the young naturalist whose work was to revolutionize science. The judicious selection of letters in Burkhardt's volume takes the reader from Darwin's university days in Edinburgh through the eventful voyage of the Beagle to the publication of the Origin in 1859.

Charles Darwin: A New Life

by John Bowlby
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1992. 511 pages.

A highly regarded biography described by Frank Sulloway as "perhaps an ideal introduction to Darwin's life and work for the nonspecialist". A psychologist by trade and the author of Attachment and Loss, Bowlby is particularly interested in Darwin's invalidism; he suggests that Darwin "developed a vulnerable personality as the result of a childhood shadowed by an invalid and dying mother and an unpredictable and often intimidating father, and that his symptoms can be understood as responses to stressful events and situations."

Charles Darwin: After the Origin

by Sheila Ann Dean
Ithaca (NY): Paleontological Research Institution and Cornell University Library, 2009. 156 pages.

Dean’s book focuses on Darwin’s later years, and thus tells “a further story about Darwin’s accomplishments, some in quite esoteric fields (such as barnacles or earthworms and their effects in soils,” writes reviewer Sara B. Hoot. “The book is well-written and full of clear explanations of Darwin’s precepts, a help to any person interested in his work who does not want to slog through his numerous publications.” She adds that it “makes Darwin’s later works available in a easily accessed scientifically accurate text, helps us appreciate the historical settings of his research, and includes appropriate and well-placed illustrations.”

Charles Darwin: Evolution of a Naturalist

by Richard Milner
New York: Facts on File, Inc., 1994. 158 pages.

In Milner's own words, from the Amazon.com page for his book: "Supposedly for young adults, the book is written at a level everyone can enjoy — Jim Moore, historian of science, calls it '[the] best short biography of Darwin in existence.' (Moore wrote the best long one, with Adrian Desmond.) Yes, I am the same Richard Milner who performs the musical show "Charles Darwin: Live & In Concert" at museums, universities, and cultural institutions all over the world. You may also know my book The Encyclopedia of Evolution: Humanity's Search for Its Origins."

Charles Darwin: The Concise Story of an Extraordinary Man

by Tim Berra
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

From the publisher: "Tim M Berra, whose 'Darwin: The Man' lectures are in high demand worldwide, tells the fascinating story of the person and the idea that changed everything. Berra discusses Darwin's revolutionary scientific work, its impact on modern-day biological science, and the influence of Darwin's evolutionary theory on Western thought. But Berra digs deeper to reveal Darwin the man by combining anecdotes with carefully selected illustrations and photographs. This small gem of a book includes 20 color plates and 60 black-and-white illustrations, along with an annotated list of Darwin's publications and a chronology of his life."

Charles Darwin: The Man and His Influence

by Peter J. Bowler
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 264 pages.

In the first chapter, Bowler explains that "What follows is not a biography in the conventional sense, although obviously I shall try to present an outline of what Darwin did and said. Instead I shall offer the reader an opportunity to rethink his or her position on what the various facets of Darwin's life ought to mean to us today." Bowler is the author of numerous books on the history of the theory of evolution, including Theories of Human Evolution, Evolution: The History of an Idea, and, most recently, Reconciling Science and Religion: The Debate in Early-Twentieth-Century Britain.

Charles Darwin: The Power of Place

by Janet Browne
Princeton NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003. 600 pages.

Charles Darwin: The Power of Place is the second volume of Janet Browne's acclaimed biography of Darwin, preceded by Charles Darwin: Voyaging. Browne continues her brilliantly detailed story of Darwin's life, beginning in 1858 with the events that forced him to unveil his theory of evolution by natural selection to the world. The reviewer for The New York Times wrote, "This biography is matchless in detail and compass, and one feels an abiding gratitude that Browne was willing to sacrifice so many years of her life to reconstruct Darwin's." The book won the 2002 National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography.

Charles Darwin: Voyaging

by Janet Browne
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996. 632 pages.

Charles Darwin: Voyaging is the first volume of Janet Browne's acclaimed biography of Darwin, followed by Charles Darwin: The Power of Place. Reviewing it for Newsday, Ernst Mayr wrote, "There is no better chronicle of Darwin as human being, friend, and indefatigable scientist, nor anywhere a richer description of his milieu, his family life, his social circle, and his scientific connections. Browne's extraordinary knowledge of the literature of the period makes her account particularly insightful.... [A] masterpiece.... Browne knows how to spellbind the reader.... The definitive Darwin biography." Browne is Aramont Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University.

Darwin's Armada

by Iain McCalman
New York: W. W. Norton, 2009. 423 pages.

Subtitled Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution, McCalman’s book describes the nineteenth-century ocean journeys of Charles Darwin, Joseph Hooker, Thomas Henry Huxley, and Alfred Russel Wallace, and explains their importance and relevance to the nascent science of evolution. According to the New York Times Book Review, “[McCalman’s] narratives are as much bildungsroman as scientific analysis, showing how the four voyagers were steeled and transformed by the demands of the sea and the wondrous unfamiliarity of life on distant shores.” McCalman is a professor in the Department of History at the University of Sydney.

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. "This interplay between one man, one book, and the diverse social, religious, intellectual and national circumstances of his audiences and the broader currents of historical change is what made Darwin's Origin such a remarkable phenomenon in its own day and which continues to absorb and instruct modern readers."

Darwin's Sacred Cause

by Adrian Desmond and James Moore
New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008. 448 pages.

From the publisher: "In their new book, timed to coincide with the worldwide Darwin bicentenary celebrations, Desmond and Moore provide a major reexamination of Darwin's life and work. Drawing on a wealth of fresh manuscripts, unpublished letters, notebooks, diaries, and ships' logs, they argue that the driving force behind Darwin's theory of evolution was not simply his love of truth or personal ambition — it was his fierce hatred of slavery. Darwin's abolitionism had deep roots in his mother's family, and it was reinforced by his voyage on the Beagle as well as by events in America — from the Civil War to the arrival of scientific racism at Harvard."

Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life

by Niles Eldredge
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2005. 256 pages.

Written by NCSE Supporter Niles Eldredge and with no fewer than one hundred illustrations, Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life is the companion to the American Museum of Natural History's exhibition celebrating the two hundredth anniversary of Darwin's birth, but it's more, too: a rich and inspiring reconstruction of Darwin's life through his writings and discoveries. The reviewer for Science News writes, "Using four of Darwin's notebooks as his starting point, Eldredge considers the speculation, intuitive leaps, and logical reasoning that Darwin undertook to arrive at his theory ...What results is a fascinating exposition of Darwin's skill as an experimental scientist and deductive reasoner."

Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist

by Adrian Desmond and James Moore
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1994. 808 pages.

Writing in Nature, Stephen Jay Gould describes Desmond and Moore's Darwin as "Unquestionably, the finest [biography] ever written about Darwin." A thoroughly scholarly work, Darwin nevertheless reads like a novel, which prompted Anthony Burgess to comment that "[Darwin's] story is told here with the right energy, irony and affection. His example has driven these two learned doctors to the making of a huge work whose permanent value hardly seems to be in doubt." Desmond's other books include The Politics of Evolution; Moore's other books include The Post-Darwinian Controversies; and they recently collaborated again to write Darwin's Sacred Cause.

Darwinism and its Discontents

by Michael Ruse
Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, 2006. 316 pages.

The latest from NCSE Supporter Michael Ruse, Darwinism and its Discontents offers a review and defense of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. In the introduction, Ruse writes: "All the critics of Darwinism are deeply mistaken. Charles Darwin was a good scientist, the biological revolution of the nineteenth century led to genuine understanding, and today's version of the theory is good quality science. It tells you important things about the real world. ... [And] it can and should provide a positive and creative stimulus for religious people to think about their faith and move forward in a richer and deeper way."

Darwinism Comes to America

by Ronald L. Numbers
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. 224 pages.

In 6 fascinating essays, distinguished historian of science Ronald L Numbers explores the reception of Darwinism in the US. Eugenie C Scott, executive director of NCSE, writes, "Numbers's carefully researched study helps us understand the origin of the wide-ranging attitudes toward creation and evolution found among conservative Christians today. Darwinism Comes to America is a worthy successor to The Creationists."

Darwin’s Camera: Art and Photography in the Theory of Evolution

by Phillip Prodger
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009. 284 pages.

In examining these two books on visual elements in Darwin’s work, reviewer Michael Ruse notes that the Origin, with its single illustration, was the exception: “In other works, there are illustrations galore, and only a fool (or a philosopher) could deny their importance.” Darwin’s Camera “does a magnificent job of tracing and explaining Darwin’s illustrations” to The Descent of Man, “giving great detail about the sources of the pictures and their background.” The essays in The Art of Evolution “argue that Darwin fed back into the culture of his day and of generations succeeding”; Ruse is mildly critical of two essays as vague and unconvincing.

Darwin’s Pictures: Views of Evolutionary Theory, 1837– 1874

by Julia Voss
New Haven (CT): Yale University Press, 2010. 340 pages.

Reviewer Keith Thomson summarizes, “As Darwin was a poor draftsman, Julia Voss’s Darwin’s Pictures is not a critical retrospective of the man as an artist. Instead she uses a small number of images—like the figure of Galápagos ground finch beaks in The Voyage of the Beagle (editions after 1845), the tree in the Origin, and the use of photographic series in Expression of the Emotions—to explain the development of his ideas and the history of his career as a scientist of the mid-to-late nineteenth century. In the process she is able to retell a familiar story from a novel and newly illuminating point of view.”

Defender of the Faith

by Lawrence W Levine
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1987. 386 pages.

Although the remarkable public career of the Great Commoner attracted biographers aplenty, Levine's narrow focus on the last decade of Bryan's life makes his 1965 study especially helpful to those fascinated by the Scopes trial. "The Bryan of the 1920s was essentially the Bryan of the 1890s," Levine explains in his introduction: "older in years but no less vigorous, no less optimistic, no less certain."

Defenders of the Truth: The Sociobiology Debate

by Ullica Segerstråle
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. 504 pages.

Twenty-five years in the making, Defenders of the Truth offers a lively and comprehensive history-cum-analysis of the debate over sociobiology by a sociologist who followed it closely as it developed, interviewing such luminaries as Stephen Jay Gould, E. O . Wilson, Richard Lewontin, Richard Dawkins, and John Maynard Smith — who, Segerstråle writes, "are all defenders of the truth — it is just that they have different conceptions of where the truth lies." The reviewer for Science commented, "she provides details with an apposite quote each time one hero's cutting review strikes another's bloody helm, and the details accumulate into an epic whole." Segerstråle is Professor of Sociology at Illinois Institute of Technology.

Emma Darwin: A Victorian Life

by James D. Loy and Kent M. Loy
Gainesville (FL): University Press of Florida, 2010. 437 pages.

“This most recent biography of Emma Darwin is an old-fashioned ‘life’ in the best Victorian sense, both an uplifting portrait of Emma’s qualities and an entertaining window into a world gone by,” write reviewers Stanley A Rice and Lisette Rice. “Emma Darwin was herself interesting and admirable, not just as the wife of Charles Darwin. But anyone interested in Charles Darwin will learn a lot about his personal side, especially about the long illness through which she nursed him; without her help, he could not have completed most of his important work."

Erasmus Darwin: A Life of Unequalled Achievement

by Desmond King-Hele
London: Giles de La Mare, 1999. 448 pages.

Physician, botanist, inventor, physiologist, and poet, the polymath Erasmus Darwin is also noteworthy for anticipating the scientific theory of evolution — complete with a recognition of the fossil record, the reality of extinction, and the immense age of the earth. The reviewer for Nature wrote of Desmond King-Hele's thorough biography, "Few scientific lives have ever been so carefully and thoughtfully examined. There are no final words in history, but this is a biography for which the word definitive can be aptly applied." King-Hele is also the editor of Charles Darwin's The Life of Erasmus Darwin.

Evolutionary Restraints: The Contentious History of Group Selection

by Mark E. Borrello
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. 215 pages.

Concluding his review of Borrello’s history of group selection, E. G. Leigh Jr. summarizes: “Those acquainted with the group selection controversy might benefit from this book. I earned much of interest from it about various aspects of the controversy. On the other hand, it makes a poor introduction to the controversy, because it communicates a very inadequate understanding of why opponents of group selection were so sure that it could rarely be effective. Borrello’s presentation of Wynne- Edwards as the father of group selection is misguided: even group selectionists agree that Wynne-Edwards’s application of the concept was inappropriate.”

Evolutionary Theory and the Creation Controversy

by Olivier Rieppel
Berlin: Springer, 2011. 204 pages.

Despite its title, reviewer J. David Archibald notes, Rieppel’s book is “far more about the history and philosophy of science in general and evolutionary biology in particular than about the creationism/evolution controversy.” Evolutionary Theory and the Creation Controversy is best when it “weaves together the history and philosophy of biology” but “weakest and most tedious when he tries too hard to make a philosophical point”—the sections reviewing the strengths and weaknesses of eminent 20th-century philosophers of science are hard going, and certain excursions are “difficult to relate to evolutionary theory” or “could have been presented in a more relevant, straightforward manner.”

Genesis and Geology

by Charles Coulston Gillispie
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1996. 351 pages.

Subtitled "A study in the relations of scientific thought, natural theology, and social opinion in Great Britain, 1790–1850," Genesis and Geology "proposed to give an account of the immediate background of the pattern of scientific disagreement which culminated in disputes about Darwin's book and to attempt to analyze the causes of that disagreement." Originally published in 1951, Genesis and Geology was reprinted by Harvard University Press in 1996, with a new introduction by the historian of geology Nicolaas Rupke reevaluating the book in light of the subsequent forty-five years of historical scholarship.

Here Be Dragons

by Dennis McCarthy
New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 256 pages.

A spirited and readable survey of the history of biogeography, Here Be Dragons teems in accounts of unusual animals and exotic locales. The publisher writes, “The story of how animals and plants came to be found where they are — the story of biogeography — brings together two great theories of life and Earth: evolution and plate tectonics. In this wonderfully rich telling, that takes in pygmy mammoths and orca whales, Dennis McCarthy traces the powerful forces that have altered the surface of the planet and shaped the pattern of life on Earth.” The author is a scientific researcher with the Buffalo Museum of Science.

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. "[I]t is required reading for scholars in any field concerned with evolutionary thought in the nineteenth century," wrote the reviewer for Isis.

Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest

by Adrian Desmond
New York: Basic Books, 1999. 848 pages.

A lively and definitive biography of Thomas Henry Huxley. Not merely Darwin's bulldog, Huxley was also instrumental in promoting the public understanding of science and in establishing science as a profession. Writes the reviewer for the New York Times Book Review, "Desmond moves briskly and wittily through the entertaining events of Huxley's life ... Desmond writes on the public and scientific life with gusto and skill, offering himself up, unwittingly, as a competitor to his subject in the art of inventing one-liners and telling phrases." Adrian Desmond is also the coauthor (with James Moore) of Darwin: The Life of a Tormented Evolutionist.

In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace

by Michael Shermer
New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. 448 pages.

Reviewing In Darwin's Shadow for RNCSE (2003 Mar/Apr; 23 [2]: 36–7), Aubrey Manning wrote, "This is a distinguished and scholarly biography with excellent coverage of the science. Shermer is concerned with the history of evolutionary ideas and uses the interaction between Wallace, Darwin, and others to great effect. He goes beyond this to examine the extraordinary range of Wallace's interests and how they came to dominate different stages of his life." A prolific author and a regular columnist for Scientific American, Michael Shermer is also the founder of the Skeptics Society and the publisher of Skeptic magazine.

Lincoln & Darwin: Shared Visions of Race, Science, and Religion

by James Lander
Carbondale (IL): Southern Illinois University Press, 2010. 351 pages.

“As the subtitle suggests,” reviewer Steven Conn explains, “Lander’s approach to this well-worked material is to focus on three areas—race, science and religion—and argue that these two men shared the same outlook on all three. To make that claim, Lander proceeds carefully and thoroughly through each life, pairing the thoughts and careers of Lincoln and Darwin in virtually every one of the book’s twenty-six chapters.” Sometimes the comparison is too strained, but “more often than not these comparisons and juxtapositions persuade, and they reveal two extraordinary intellects as they wrestled with some of the most important questions of their age.”

Linnaeus: The Compleat Naturalist

by Wilfrid Blunt
Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002. 288 pages.

Lavishly illustrated and enlivened by a host of vivid passages from Linnaeus's own work, Wilfrid Blunt's biography, originally published in 1971, gives a fascinating and rounded portrait of the developer of the Systema Naturae, Linnaeus's ambitious and seminal project of systematic taxonomy. The eminent botanist William T Stearn provides an introduction and an appendix on Linnaean classification, nomenclature, and method. "This evocative account of Linnaeus's life and achievements has become a natural history classic," writes Janet Browne. "Wilfrid Blunt beautifully captures Linnaeus's zest for botany and its key place in the intellectual ferment of the eighteenth century."

Lives of a Biologist: Adventures in a Century of Extraordinary Science

by John Tyler Bonner
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002. 238 pages.

From the publisher: "Part autobiography, part history of the extraordinary transformation of biology in his time, Bonner's book is truly a life in science, the story of what it is to be a biologist observing the unfolding of the intricacies of life itself. Bonner's scientific interests are nearly as varied as the concerns of biology, ranging from animal culture to evolution, from life cycles to the development of slime molds." "If you like biology, biography, and history of science and don't mind having fun reading it, then this book is for you," writes Mary Jane West-Eberhard.

Measuring Eternity: The Search for the Beginning of Time

by Martin Gorst
New York: Broadway Books, 2002. 352 pages.

In Measuring Eternity, Martin Gorst provides a readable and engaging account of attempts to ascertain the age of the world. Ranging from the time of Ussher, La Peyrère, and Burnet all the way to the Hubble Space Telescope, the book provides delightful glimpses of a variety of eccentric characters devoted to the development of a scientific chronology. "The world has not only existed much longer than was once believed," he writes toward the end of Measuring Eternity: "we now know that it is larger and more varied, richer and more complex, than Ussher and his contemporaries could ever have imagined."

Natural Selection & Beyond: The Intellectual Legacy of Alfred Russel Wallace

edited by Charles H. Smith and George Beccaloni
New York: Oxford University Press, 2008. 482 pages.

Reviewer Sherrie Lyons describes Natural Selection & Beyond as “a valuable and welcome addition, elucidating the many different facets of this complicated and talented man.” The essays in the first part of the book consider Wallace as a field biologist and collector. The essays in the second part consider Wallace’s other interests, including his views on socialism, eugenics, and spiritualism. Lyons concludes, “Wallace has to be one of the most interesting people in the history of science. This volume does an admirable job in elucidating the reasons why.”

Naturalist

by Edward O Wilson
New York: Warner Books, 1995. 416 pages.

"Most children have a bug period," Edward O Wilson writes in his charming autobiography, Naturalist. "I never grew out of mine." He became a distinguished entomologist. But he also became a pioneer of sociobiology, a champion of biodiversity, and a graceful and elegant writer, winning the Pulitzer Price twice. "In this exquisitely written memoir," wrote the reviewer for USA Today, "the famed Harvard scientist looks back at his childhood in the South as well as his career as a groundbreaking thinker in the field of evolutionary biology. Truly, here is the irrefutable proof that scientists have souls."

Nature Revealed: Selected Writings, 1949-2006

by E. O. Wilson
Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006. 719 pages.

A wide-ranging collection of Wilson’s writing throughout his career, Nature Revealed contains sixty-one articles on ants and sociobiology, biodiversity studies (systematics and biogeography), and conservation and the human condition, plus a bibliography of his published work. “The papers collected here,” Wilson explains in his preface, “are those subjects to which ants and my boyhood passions led me. Together they reflect, I hope faithfully, some of the broader events that have occurred in the disciplines they represent and the times in which they were written.” Steven Pinker describes it as “[a] fascinating collection from one of the most influential thinkers of our time.”

Nature’s Clocks: How Scientists Measure the Age of Almost Everything

by Doug Macdougall
Berkeley (CA): University of California Press, 2008. 288 pages.

“In Nature’s Clocks,” writes reviewer John W Geissman, “Doug Macdougall provides an exceptionally well-written and engaging description ... of how we know what we know about absolute age determinations and thus about our attempts to unravel the uncertainties of deep time. This book is very suitable for a general audience interested in the history of our planet, including the details of how geoscientists, based on absolute age determinations, infer the ages of specific geologic events ... and the durations of specific processes.”

Only Yesterday: An Informal History of the Nineteen-Twenties

by Frederick Lewis Allen
New York: Harper Perennial, 2000. 352 pages.

Written by the editor of Harper's magazine in 1931, the still-in-print Only Yesterday recounts the events of the Roaring Twenties with verve and enthusiasm. "No one," according to the historian Roderick Nash, "has done more to shape the conception of the American 1920s than Frederick Lewis Allen." The Scopes trial, as the major news story of the summer of 1925, receives plenty of attention, although Edward J Larson complains that Allen "presented the trial in cartoonlike simplicity" and "perpetuated various misconceptions about events at Dayton."

Origin of Life

by A. I. Oparin
New York: Dover Publications, 2003. 304 pages.

Inspired by Darwin and Mendeleev, Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin (1894–1980) was one of the first scientists to propose that the origin of life on earth was preceded by a period of nonbiological molecular evolution. Origin of Life, published in English in 1938 and still in print, "purports to show the gradual evolution of organic substances and the manner by which ever newer properties, subject to laws of a higher order, were superimposed step by step upon the erstwhile simple and elementary properties of matter." Written for a popular audience, Origin of Life remains a classic introduction to origin-of-life research.

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 ... will certainly open a series of books on Ernst Mayr and his outstanding scientific achievements."

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. This is an ideal book to give to a birdwatcher acquaintance who thinks Darwin was some sort of modern devil, out to destroy religion and to dehumanize our picture of nature."

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

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

“This is a history of evolutionary ideas over the last two centuries illustrated by the lives and the achievements of diverse individuals, many familiar but others less so,” reviewer Aubrey Manning explains. “Carroll provides just enough commentary to keep continuity, but it is in the nature of this approach that at times we are led down various delicious individual byways.” Manning especially praises Carroll’s descriptions of the contrasting personalities of Wallace and Darwin, Charles Walcott and the Burgess Shale, Roy Chapman Andrews and the dinosaurs of central Asia, and the Leakey family.

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. Blending the suspense of a page-turning detective story with the powerful insights of some of the best science writing, he tells the story of natural history as it needs to be told — as an adventure into the unknown."

Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology

by William B. Provine
Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 1989. 562 pages.

In Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology, William B Provine offers a massive (545 pages) biography of and testament to the work of Sewall Wright, who, together with R. A. Fisher and J. B. S. Haldane, founded modern theoretical population genetics. Provine's book was praised by Stephen Jay Gould, writing in Isis, as "the finest intellectual biography available for any twentieth-century evolutionist. In its wealth of detail and richness of insight it has established a standard for historical work in this field." Several of Wright's seminal papers are included. The author is the Charles A. Alexander Professor of Biological Sciences at Cornell University.

Six Days or Forever? Tennessee v John Scopes

by Ray Ginger
New York: Oxford University Press, 1974. 270 pages.

The first authoritative historical treatment of the Scopes trial is still extraordinarily readable. Originally published in 1958, Six Days or Forever? is notable for its comparison of the 1925 cross-examination of Bryan and the 1954 Senate investigation of McCarthy; "if a person holds irrational ideas and insists that others should accept them because of their authoritative source," Ginger writes, "he should never agree to be questioned about them."

Species, Serpents, Spirits, and Skulls

by Sherrie Lynne Lyons
Albany (NY): State University of New York Press, 2009. 245 pages.

Reviewer A. Bowdoin Van Riper explains, “Lyons’s concern is with subjects from the outer edges of Victorian science: sea serpents, phrenology, spiritualism, and the spiritual dimensions (if any) of human evolution. The boundary between science and non-science was, she persuasively argues, fluid and sharply contested in Victorian Britain, and these subjects were the intellectual fields on which it was contested.” Van Riper particularly appreciated the chapters on evolutionary theory but felt that the introductory and concluding chapters, advancing general points about the nature of science, were less successful.

Summer for the Gods

by Edward J. Larson
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998. 336 pages.

Edward J. Larson's Pulitzer–Prize-winning account of the events in Dayton, Tennessee, in the 1920s and their continuing impact on American life provides a historical perspective on the persistent conflict between creationism and science. Summer for the Gods is endorsed by such diverse readers as Phillip Johnson, Will Provine, and Ronald L. Numbers, who says that it "is, quite simply, the best book ever written on the Scopes trial and its place in American history and myth." Larson teaches law and history at the University of Georgia; his latest book is Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Idea (New York: Modern Library, 2004).

Systematics and the Origin of Species

by Ernst Mayr
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. 372 pages.

Systematics and the Origin of Species, published in 1942 and reissued, with a new introduction, in 1999, is widely regarded as largely responsible for the crowning achievement of the Modern Synthesis: demonstrating the compatibility of the evolutionary patterns and processes to be found in natural populations with Darwinian natural selection and Mendelian genetics. It also introduced the biological species concept, according to which species are "groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations that are reproductively isolated from other such groups." Perhaps the most distinguished evolutionary biologist of the twentieth century, Ernst Mayr was a member of NCSE; he died in 2005, at the age of 100.

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. Are birds actually living dinosaurs? Where does the fossil record really lead? Did flight originate from the 'ground up' or 'trees down'?"

Terrible Lizard: The First Dinosaur Hunters and the Birth of a New Science

by Deborah Cadbury
New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2001. 374 pages.

An exciting recounting of the 19th-century discovery of the dinosaurs, featuring such characters as Mary Anning, William Buckland, Georges Cuvier, Richard Owen, Gideon Mantell, and Charles Lyell. Carl Zimmer writes, "Cadbury ... turns what could have been just a string of anecdotes into high drama. Much of her success comes from her depth of research: she has scoured diaries, letters and newspaper archives and can tell her story in the words of the people who lived it."

The Annotated Origin

annotated by James T. Costa
Cambridge (MA): Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009. 576 pages.

According to reviewer Allen D. MacNeill, “The introduction to The Annotated Origin alone is worth the price of the book” for its biography of Darwin and its discussion of Darwin’s rush to publish in 1859. But “Costa then analyzes and annotates virtually every page of the Origin,” with annotations that “run the gamut from personal anecdotes to hard-science references” and “provide a detailed framework for Darwin’s argument, showing how the various explanations and examples are marshaled in such a way as to support Darwin’s underlying argument for ‘descent with modification by means of natural selection’.” MacNeill concludes, “I recommend it with the highest possible praise.”

The Art of Evolution

edited by Barbara Larson and Fae Brauer
Hanover (NH): Dartmouth College Press, 2009. 332 pages.

In examining these two books on visual elements in Darwin’s work, reviewer Michael Ruse notes that the Origin, with its single illustration, was the exception: “In other works, there are illustrations galore, and only a fool (or a philosopher) could deny their importance.” Darwin’s Camera “does a magnificent job of tracing and explaining Darwin’s illustrations” to The Descent of Man, “giving great detail about the sources of the pictures and their background.” The essays in The Art of Evolution “argue that Darwin fed back into the culture of his day and of generations succeeding”; Ruse is mildly critical of two essays as vague and unconvincing.

The Autobiography of Charles Darwin

by Charles Darwin, edited by Nora Barlow
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. 253 pages.

Written for his children and their children, Darwin's autobiography is direct, personal, quirky, and compelling — a must read. On the appearance of the unbowdlerized edition of Darwin's autobiography, Loren Eiseley wrote, "No man can pretend to know Darwin who does not know his autobiography. Here, for the first time since his death, it is presented complete and unexpurgated, as it exists in the family archives. It will prove invaluable to biographers and cast new light on the personality of one of the world's greatest scientists. Nora Barlow, Darwin's granddaughter, has proved herself a superb editor. Her own annotations make fascinating reading."

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. Written in a clear and friendly yet authoritative manner, this volume will be essential reading for both scholars and students More broadly, it will appeal to general readers who want to learn more about one of the most important and controversial books of modern times." Coeditor Michael Ruse is a Supporter of NCSE.

The Darwin Experience

by John van Wyhe
Washington (DC): National Geographic Press, 2008. 64 pages.

Reviewer Michael D. Barton describes The Darwin Experience as “[a] beautifully-produced oversized book” equipped with “a varied assortment of facsimiles of primary documents: illustrations, photographs, letters, pages from notebooks, maps, cards, and more,” intended “for the non-specialist interested in gaining a better understanding of a much-misunderstood topic.” Concluding that it provides “a wonderful window into the life and work of Charles Darwin, suitable for newcomers to the topic as well as those already familiar because of its display-like presentation and the illustrations and facsimile documents,” Barton regrets only the absence of transcriptions of the handwritten facsimile documents and a certain neglect of Alfred Russel Wallace.

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. Reviewing the book for RNCSE, Kevin Padian commented, "Moore undertook to write the book largely because he could not get away from questions about [the legend] every time he was interviewed about Darwin," adding, "Moore's book is excellent scholarship."

The Dating Game: One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth

by Cherry Lewis
Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002. 272 pages.

"It is perhaps a little indelicate to ask of our mother Earth her age, but Science acknowledges no shame." So quipped Arthur Holmes, one of the major figures in the history of attempts to determine the age of the earth, and the subject of Cherry Lewis's lively biography, The Dating Game. The reviewer for Earth Sciences History writes, "it is always a pleasure — and alas, not a common pleasure — to read a really well-written geological biography. Cherry Lewis is to be congratulated not only in producing one such biography, but also in setting forth with commendable lucidity the evolving scientific concepts by which the Earth's dating was achieved."

The Double Helix

by James D. Watson
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1980. 298 pages.

Originally published in 1968, Watson's classic personal account of the discovery of the structure of DNA continues to infuriate, titillate, and inspire its readers. The Norton Critical Edition, edited by Gunther Stent, includes reproductions of the original 1953 and 1954 papers describing the double helical structure of DNA, retrospectives from Francis Crick and Linus Pauling, and reviews of The Double Helix by a variety of authors, including Richard C. Lewonton, Peter M. Medawar, Robert K. Merton, and Philip Morrison. Watson shared the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1962.

The Emergence of Life on Earth: A Historical and Scientific Overview

by Iris Fry
New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2000. 344 pages.

Fry, a historian and philosopher of science, offers a unique scholarly perspective on the scientific issues involved in research on the origins of life. In addition to summarizing the history, all the way from Aristotle through Darwin and Pasteur to Oparin, Haldane, and Miller, she examines the contemporary issues and debates within the origin-of-life scientific research community. The reviewer for the Journal of the History of Biology praises The Emergence of Life on Earth for "raising important questions in a way fully up to date with current discourse in both history and philosophy, and integrating these approaches throughout the book."

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."

The Impact of the Gene

by Colin Tudge
New York: Hill and Wang, 2002. 384 pages.

From the publisher: "In the mid-nineteenth century, a Moravian friar made a discovery that was to shape not only the future of science but also that of the human race. With his deceptively simple experiments on peas in a monastery garden in Brno, Gregor Mendel was the first to establish the basic laws of heredity, laws from which the principles of modern genetics can be drawn. In this fascinating account, acclaimed science writer Colin Tudge traces the influence on science of Mendel's extraordinary ideas, from the 1850s to the present day, and goes on to ask what might happen in the coming century and beyond."

The Lucy Man: The Scientist Who Found the Most Famous Fossil Ever!

by C. A. P. Saucier
Amherst (NY): Prometheus Books, 2011. 136 pages.

Reviewer Tom Wanamaker writes, “Don Johanson is a major figure in the field of science and this book should give anyone, expert or beginner, a better appreciation of the man and his work. It would make a fine gift to a young aspiring fossil-hunter and a worthy addition to any school library.” He especially praises the book, aimed at readers ten and older, for its copious illustrations, the notes for further reading at the end of the chapters, and its descriptions of evolution and natural selection “at a level that is appropriate for any audience.”

The Malay Archipelago

by Alfred Russel Wallace
Singapore: Periplus, 2008. 512 pages.

Not only the codiscoverer of evolution through natural selection, Alfred Russel Wallace was also the father of the discipline of biogeography, discovering the Wallace Line separating the ecozones of Asia and (what is now called) Wallacea. The Malay Archipelago, published originally in 1869, was one of the most popular journals of scientific exploration of the nineteenth century, praised by Charles Darwin, Charles Lyell, and even the novelist Joseph Conrad (who called it his “favorite bedside companion”). In his introduction to the Periplus reprint, Tony Whitten notes, “[Wallace’s] sections on the distribution of animals and plants among the islands are a continuous theme through the book.”

The Map that Changed the World

by Simon Winchester
New York: Harper Perennial, 2002. 352 pages.

In The Map that Changed the World, Simon Winchester tells the practically Dickensian story of William Smith and his struggle to create what was arguably the first true geological map. Winchester writes, "Geology, it seems almost redundant to say, underlies and underpins everything: the site of every city, every gold mine, every field, every island is determined purely by geology — and humanity's condition is more directly influenced by geology than by any other aspect of the natural world. But until William Smith we could only surmise what that geology was, and what it would and could be elsewhere. We had no map."

The Monk in the Garden

by Robin Marantz Henig
Boston: Mariner Books, 2001. 304 pages.

From the publisher: "The perplexing silence that greeted Mendel's discovery and his ultimate canonization as the father of genetics make up a tale of intrigue, jealousy, and a healthy dose of bad timing. Telling the story as it has never been told before, Robin Henig crafts a suspenseful, elegant, and richly detailed narrative that fully evokes Mendel's life and work and the fate of his ideas as they made their perilous way toward the light of day. The Monk in the Garden is a literary tour de force about a little-known chapter in the history of science, and it brings us back to the birth of genetics — a field that continues to challenge the way we think about life itself."

The Neandertal Enigma: Solving the Mystery of Modern Human Origins

by James Shreeve
New York: Avon Books, 1996. 369 pages.

Weaving together interviews with scientists, compelling descriptions of fossils and fossil sites, and a survey of the literature, James Shreeve offers a thought-provoking explanation of what caused the disappearance of humanity's closest relatives and the implications for what it means to be human. As the reviewer for the Washington Post writes, The Neandertal Enigma is "an elegantly written, passionate and absorbing examination of a fascinating subject." The author is also the coauthor, with Donald Johanson, of Lucy's Child: The Discovery of a Human Ancestor.

The Non-Darwinian Revolution: Reinterpreting a Historical Myth

by Peter J. Bowler
Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992. 252 pages.

"Historians of biology," Bowler writes, "have ... tended to discuss the history of evolutionism as though it were essentially the history of Darwinism." But Darwinian theory, based on natural selection, was not the only mechanism offered during the 19th century to explain evolution. Bowler's readable but scholarly account takes the reader through the panoply of the evolutionary (but nonselectionist) ideas of such figures as Owen, Spencer, Kelvin, Huxley, Haeckel, and Freud.

The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species

by David N. Reznick
Princeton (NJ): Princeton University Press, 2010. 432 pages.

“There is clearly a need for the general public to understand what Darwin did or did not say,” reviewer Piers J. Hale argues, “and Reznick’s interpretive guide is a great place to begin.” Discussing natural selection, speciation, and theory, The Origin Then and Now offers “a modern interpretation of Darwin’s argument supplemented by ‘evolution today’ sections that are not only informative but also demonstrate where Darwin’s thinking continues to be relevant to modern evolutionary biology and where it has been superseded.” Hale concludes, “Reznick offers insightful analysis and compelling present-day examples, and is wonderfully readable in the process.”

The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness

by Oren Harman
New York: WW Norton, 2010. 464 pages.

“Anyone interested in evolutionary biology or the history of science will enjoy and appreciate this book,” writes reviewer Stephen Pruett-Jones, which provides a chronological treatment of the history of scientific thought about altruism and its evolution, “focusing primarily on George Price, but also detailing the lives and contributions of the other scientists contributing to the debate and theory about altruism. That list includes some of the most influential evolutionary biologists of the last century, including Ronald Fisher, JBS Haldane, Sewall Wright, John Maynard Smith, and Bill Hamilton.”

The Reluctant Mr Darwin

by David Quammen
New York: Atlas, 2007. 304 pages.

Focusing on the twenty-one year period between Darwin's return from his travels on the Beagle and the eventual publication of On the Origin of Species, Quammen illuminates the development of Darwin's thoughts and his hesitation to tell the world. Kevin Padian, president of NCSE's board of directors, described The Reluctant Mr Darwin as "a fresh and original look at one of history's greatest scientists, written by one of our very best science writers." A prolific writer, Quammen also wrote The Song of the Dodo, The Flight of the Iguana, and the cover story — "Was Darwin Wrong?" — for the November 2004 issue of National Geographic.

The Science and Humanism of Stephen Jay Gould

by Richard York and Brett Clark
New York: Monthly Review Press, 2011. 223 pages.

Reviewer David F. Prindle praises York and Clark’s “cogent summaries of concepts and issues that must be understood if Gould’s thought is to be understood and appreciated,” but is in the end disappointed by their uncritical across-the-board agreement with Gould’s political and scientific views, writing, “the authors give us, not a judicious account of politics and science, but a propaganda tract written in elevated language. ... In short, if readers want to enjoy left-wing political views wrapped around discussions of evolutionary biology, they should read Gould’s own essays.”

The Scopes Trial: A Brief History with Documents

by Jeffrey P. Moran
Boston: Bedford Books, 2002. 230 pages.

Following a detailed seventy-two-page introduction by Moran himself to the Scopes trial and its cultural and historical milieu, The Scopes Trial provides original source documents — extensive selections from the eight days of the trial transcript and contemporary coverage of the courtroom as well as cartoons and selections illuminating how the issues of the trial were connected with issues of race, educational freedom, feminism, new religious movements in the 1920s, and local control over education. New York University's Jonathan Zimmerman predicts, "It will become the standard short interpretation of Scopes and antievolution." The author is Associate Professor of History at the University of Kansas.

The Scopes Trial: A Photographic History

by Edward Caudill, Edward Larson, and Jesse Fox Mayshark
Knoxville, TN: University of Tennessee Press, 2000. 88 pages.

At last, the opportunity to see the persons and places of the greatest trial of the century! The backdrop and the repercussions of the Scopes trial are ably discussed by Edward Caudill and Jesse Fox Mayshark, respectively, but the heart of the book is its wealth of documentary photographs, annotated by Edward Larson, the author of the definitive history of the Scopes trial, Summer for the Gods. (Library Journal comments, "The photographs and captions alone are worth the price, showing how the news coverage of the trial transformed a town and shamed a state.") Slim and elegant, The Scopes Trial: A Photographic History is simply irresistible.

The Scopes Trial: Defending the Right to Teach

by Arthur Blake
Brookfield, CT: Millbrook Press, 1994. 64 pages.

The Scopes Trial was, at bottom, about what children ought to be taught in science class, so it is appropriate that Blake wrote his book specifically for children between 9 and 12, clearly and thoroughly describing the Scopes trial and its enduring significance for religion, education, and society. Contains photographs, bibliography, chronology, and index. Part of the Spotlight on American History series.

The Seashell on the Mountaintop

by Alan Cutler
New York: Dutton Adult, 2003. 240 pages.

A new book about Niels Stensen (1638-86) — Nicolaus Stenonius in Latin, or Steno for short — the Danish anatomist-turned-geologist who was arguably the founder of the science of geology. Writing in The New York Times, NCSE President Kevin Padian praised Cutler "for making one think about what qualifies as an explanation, and for exploring the endless debates that mix strands of partial knowledge with the need to reconcile religious testaments."

The Spirit of System: Lamarck and Evolutionary Biology

by Richard W Burkhardt Jr
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995. 320 pages.

A definitive study of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, often credited as the first scientist to develop a truly coherent evolutionary theory, Richard W Burkhardt Jr's The Spirit of System considers Lamarck and his achievements in their own context, rather than as a mere, and misguided, anticipation of Darwin. Praising the revised edition, Michael Ruse wrote, "The Spirit of System was a classic from its first appearance. It was and still is simply the definitive account of the great French founder of evolutionary biology. ... Burkhardt's remains the one essential volume that one must read on the topic."

The Story of My Life

by Clarence Darrow
New York: Da Capo Press, 1996. 508 pages.

Straight from the horse's mouth, the story of the most famous — and infamous — attorney of his day contains Darrow's own account of his involvement in the Scopes trial. "To me," Darrow wrote, "it was perfectly clear that the proceedings bore little semblance to a court case, but I realized that there was no limit to the mischief that might be accomplished unless the country was aroused to the evil at hand." Introduction by the Harvard law professor widely considered to be the Darrow of our day, Alan Dershowitz.

The Tragic Sense of Life

by Robert J Richards
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008. 551 pages.

Subtitled "Ernst Haeckel and the Struggle over Evolutionary Thought," The Tragic Sense of Life offers not only a biography of Haeckel, who was the foremost champion on evolution in Germany before World War I, but also a meticulous examination of his impact on biology and politics. The reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement writes, "The Tragic Sense of Life is an immensely impressive work of biography and intellectual history, and a fitting testament to a complex and contradictory character, a 'polymorphic scientist-artist-adventurer'. Richards succeeds brilliantly in re-establishing Haeckel as a significant scientist and a major figure in the history of evolutionary thought."

The Voyage of the Beagle

by Charles Darwin, preface by Steve Jones
New York: Modern Library, 2001. 496 pages.

Both as a scientific document and as a travelogue, The Voyage of the Beagle continues to fascinate and delight its readers. The new Modern Library edition contains a preface by the geneticist Steve Jones, author of Darwin's Ghost, who justly describes The Voyage of the Beagle as "the overture to Darwin's career and to the biology of today ... a serious work of science that can be read on many levels; for the power of its observation and its prose, as an insight into the delight of an educated Englishman faced with the new world of the tropics, and, in the end, as a simple tale of travel and adventure with no match in Darwin's century or since."

The World's Most Famous Court Trial; Tennessee Evolution Case

Union, NJ: The Lawbook Exchange, 1997. 339 pages.

The very first book on the subject of the Scopes trial contains, in the words of the title page, "[a] word-for-word report of the famous court test of the Tennessee anti-evolution act, at Dayton, July 10 to 21, 1925, including speeches and arguments of attorneys, testimony of noted scientists, and Bryan's last speech." Reprinted with additions from the original 1925 edition, the transcript, although expensive, is invaluable for anyone seriously interested in the Scopes trial.

What about Darwin?

by Thomas F. Glick
Baltimore (MD): The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010. 520 pages.

“With over four hundred passages from authors ranging from Henry Adams ... to Emile Zola,” reviewer Glenn Branch writes, “What about Darwin? succeeds in giving a tantalizing taste of the various ways in which Darwin was understood and misunderstood, from 1859 to about the mid-1940s.” Describing it as “a delightful book to browse through,” Branch adds, “perhaps the only activity more delightful would be to argue about who should have been included, and what, and why.”

When All the Gods Trembled: Darwinism, Scopes, and American Intellectuals

by Paul K. Conkin
Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1998. 208 pages.

The author of American Originals: Homemade Varieties of Christianity turns his attention to the impact of Darwin's theories on the intellectual scene of the 1920s. The Scopes trial is central, of course, but Conkin also discusses the reactions of intellectuals as diverse as the pastor Harry Emerson Fosdick, the philosopher John Dewey, and the poet John Crowe Ransom. Fellow historian Edward J Larson praises When All the Gods Trembled for its "keen insights into the historic fundamentalist-­modernist controversy and the ongoing debate over science and religion."

Written in Stone

by Brian Switek
New York: Bellevue Literary Press, 2010. 320 pages.

Reviewer Pat Shipman regards the individual chapters of Written in Stone as good, particularly the opening chapter on the overselling of Darwinius masillae: “For a student wanting to brush up quickly on, say, human or horse evolution, this book will be a treasure trove.” But she laments the lack of any overarching structure or theme to unify them. “The result is a choppy book, good in parts, but without any overall insight into our ideas of missing links and our treatment of fossils. Those hoping to learn about exciting discoveries and advances in paleontological techniques will, I fear, need to look elsewhere.”