258 pages, B/w illus
One snowy day in Ushuaia, Argentina, the self-proclaimed 'southernmost city in the world,' at the end of a long trip designed to put as much distance between himself and a frustrating post-college job as possible, writer Eric Simons picked up a copy of Charles Darwin's "Voyage of the Beagle".
Simons and two friends had just hiked the mountains overlooking Beagle Channel, and Simons found himself engrossed in Darwin's account. Like Simons, Darwin was in his mid-twenties when he travelled to the continent, having joined a five-year expedition designed to survey and map the coastline of South America, to serve as the expedition's naturalist.Simons found himself compelled to return to follow Darwin further into South America - to stand where Darwin had, and to explore the histories, legends and people that had fascinated him two centuries before. Simons trekked to as many of the locations Darwin wrote about as he could find, to see if he could see these places through Darwin's eyes, and to see what South Americans know about Darwin.
2009 is a double anniversary year for Darwin: The 200th anniversary of his birth in February, and the 150th anniversary of the publication of "On the Origin of Species" in November. Part travelogue, part insight into one of the greatest scientific minds in history, "Darwin Slept Here" will fascinate and enthrall.
Eric Simons has given us a bracingly fresh portrait of the young Darwin, the man long ago lost behind the great white beard. Here is Darwin as only another young naturalist could find him, and to see the world through those avid eyes, groping for the theory that would explain all he has so brilliantly observed, is nothing less than exhilarating. Michael Pollen, author of "The Botany of Desire" and "The Omnivore's Dilemma"; "Vivid and exotic, Eric Simons' tale invites comparisons to Chatwin as he leads readers among guanacos and ostriches, assassin bugs and armadillos, through rough seas, swift currents and ascending jungles. This is a book full of zest and discovery with the deeper mission of appreciating one of humankind's great breakthroughs in the understanding of our past." Lou Ureneck, author of "Backcast"; "Too often we forget that major accomplishments often stem from youthful abandon. Twenty-something Charles Darwin had a rippin' good time mingling with South America's gauchos and iguanas. Discovering this inspired young Eric Simons to retrace the great naturalist's rambling tracks. The result is this wildly entertaining reminder that science and exploration can be a blast." Bob Sipchen, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and the author of "Baby Insane and the Buddha"
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