Charles Darwin (1809-82) changed forever the way we understand ourselves and our place in the world. In 1831, at the age of 22, he sailed aboard the HMS Beagle to South America to study local flora, fauna and geography. In th isolated Galapagos Islands he discovered the unique species and fossils that led to his theory of natural selection and eventually to his book On the Origin of Species (1859). This celebrated volume laid the foundation for modern evolutionary scienced and sparked an impassioned debate on the origins of manking that pitted secular science against traditional religious dogma. In 1871, already embroiled in controversy, he published The Descent of Man, which demonstrated the shared biological ancestry of the human race and apes. Once again, Darwin's heretical ideas contradicted the religious tradition that distinguished between human beings and animals and created a firestorm of criticism and praise. Part biography, part history of science, part social documentary, this book takes readers along on Darwin's fantastic voyages of discovery.
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Patrick Tort is the founder and director of the International Charles Darwin Institute. The author of over thirty books on related topics, he was awarded the Philip Morris Prize in the history of science for his collected works.