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Darwin in Galápagos: Footsteps to a New World

Biography / MemoirOut of Print

By: K Thalia Grant(Author), Gregory B Estes(Author)

394 pages, 32 plates with 201 colour photos and colour illustrations and 73 b/w photos and b/w illustrations; 4 b/w maps

Princeton University Press

Hardback | Dec 2009 | #180663 | ISBN-13: 9780691142104
Out of Print Details

About this book

In 1835, during his voyage on HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin spent several weeks in Galápagos exploring the islands and making extensive notes on their natural history. Darwin in Galápagos is the first book to recreate Darwin's historic visit to the islands, following in his footsteps day by day and island by island as he records all that he observes around him. Thalia Grant and Gregory Estes meticulously retrace Darwin's island expeditions, taking you on an unforgettable guided tour.

Drawing from Darwin's original notebooks and logs from the Beagle, the latest findings by Darwin scholars and modern science, and their own intimate knowledge of the archipelago, Grant and Estes offer rare insights into Darwin's thinking about evolution in the context of the actual locales that inspired him. They introduce Darwin as a young naturalist in England and onboard the Beagle and then put you in his shoes as he explores remote places in the islands. They identify the unique animals and plants he observed and collected, and describe dramatic changes to the islands since Darwin's time. They also explore the importance of Darwin's observations and collections to the development of his thinking after the voyage.

Ideal for visitors to Galápagos and a delight for armchair travelers, Darwin in Galápagos is generously illustrated with color and black-and-white photographs and line drawings, as well as detailed maps of Darwin's island itinerary and informative box features on the archipelago's natural history.

"Naturalists Grant and Estes are longtime researchers and residents of the Galápagos. They bring to this account of Darwin's adventures their intimate knowledge of the islands, enabling them to identify sites Darwin visited that previously were in doubt or misidentified [...] Grant and Estes describe in detail the islands' geographic and volcanic features as well as their many unique species of birds, reptiles and plants, both in Darwin's time and today [...] All fans of the great scientist will find this an engrossing account of what was probably the most important period in his life."
Publishers Weekly

"In Darwin in Galapagos, authors K. Thalia Grant and Gregory B. Estes, both naturalists who have conducted research in the Galapagos for decades, embark on a historic recreation of Darwin's 1835 visit in which they attempt to literally retrace his steps during the five weeks he spent there."
– Rick MacPherson, American Scientist

"A complement of 201 color and 73 black-and-white illustrations, not available for review, will most probably make this volume the fitting bibliographical capper to the 2009 Darwin bicentenary."
– Ray Olson, Booklist

"[T]he authors' contribution derives from their meticulous use of Darwin's notes and their intimate knowledge of the islands to reconstruct Darwin's experience there [...] This book is a must for die-hard Darwin fans and will appeal to those who enjoyed [Jonathan] Weiner's book [The Beak of the Finch] and those by David Quammen (e.g., The Reluctant Mr. Darwin)."
– Walter L. Cressier, Library Journal

"In this work, naturalists Grant and Estes retrace Charles Darwin's steps in the Galapagos, a region he initially visited after nearly four years on HMS Beagle. The authors include a discussion of Darwin's early life and education, along with an account of his voyage before arriving on the islands [...] The volume includes many excellent prints, photographs, and diagrams from Darwin's time as well as present-day photographs, which should appeal to historians and naturalists."
Choice

"K. Thalia Grant and Gregory B. Estes' narrative reconstruction of Charles Darwin's 1835 exploration of the islands [...] is a remarkable work that expertly rejoins the man and the place, and adds to them both the results of recent scientific discoveries arising from his work to bring to readers one of the most intricate portraits of this pivotal moment in natural history yet written [...] Should be considered an essential book by anyone hoping better to understand the man, his work, and his continuing influence upon the scientific world today."
The Well-read Naturalist

"Readers feel they are walking in the steps of Darwin as he moves towards his radical ideas of natural selection and evolution. This is a model travel book. It contains all the Darwin-inspired traveller to the Galapagos Islands could want, including historic and contemporary illustrations and photos."
– Bruce Elder, Sydney Morning Herald

"A good book should be based on first-hand knowledge of the subject and the authors offer an impressive combination of experience – a vast amount of information is marshaled to give readers a full picture. The book is well illustrated with a rich mixture of historical and modern images. Any reader seriously interested in Darwin and Galapagos will want to read this book."
– John van Wyhe, Galapagos News

"Even those familiar with the detailed landscape of Darwin's early years, so critical in the development of his evolutionary thinking, will find much to admire here. Grant and Estes have provided us with a historically rich and compelling, if necessarily imperfect, perspective on Darwin's Galapagos footsteps to a new world of evolutionary thinking. [...] [A] major achievement. It shows all the signs of long gestation (rather than hasty production) – 13 years from conception to outcome, but a lifetime in the making."
– Alan C. Love, Metascience

"Grant and Estes, the world's authorities on Darwin in Galápagos, put readers in young Darwin's mind and meticulously trace his every footstep. They have the most intimate knowledge about this archipelago and a heartfelt friendship with its most famous visitor. Darwin comes alive in this carefully researched book. A book every Galápagos traveler should read, as should anyone who wants to understand how Darwin became the first evolutionary biologist."
– Martin Wikelski, Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and Konstanz University

"This book is a tale of two journeys: Darwin's in the islands, and the authors' as they retraced his steps. Darwin's, of course, was one of the most important series of footsteps in the history of human exploration. And the journey that Thalia Grant and Greg Estes have made is impressive because they have done so much legwork in the islands and the libraries, and have spent so much of their lives working in the archipelago. Outdoors and indoors, it seems to have been a labor of love."
– Jonathan Weiner, author of The Beak of the Finch

"This volume provides a timely and interesting account of a key moment in Charles Darwin's life – and, it might be said, in the history of evolutionary biology. It is especially valuable to encounter the deep local knowledge that the authors bring to the locations they describe. The route Darwin took around the islands comes alive in this book."
– Janet Browne, author of Charles Darwin: The Power of Place

"This is an engaging tour of Darwin's explorations on Galápagos. This book provides the best description yet of Darwin's trip through the islands. The authors have a remarkable familiarity with the places Darwin visited, and ably share that knowledge."
– Edward J. Larson, author of Evolution: The Remarkable History of a Scientific Theory

"Grant and Estes provide a vivid and accurate account of where Charles Darwin went on his 1835 visit to the Galápagos Islands. This is an important addition to the Darwin literature and to our knowledge of what Darwin did in – and how he was affected by – Galápagos."
– Duncan M. Porter, coeditor of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin

"The authors have provided a richly detailed and evocative description of Darwin's route and experiences in the Galápagos Islands. In doing so they have made a significant contribution to Darwin studies and to the enjoyment of anyone who visits these places with their book in hand."
– Sandra Herbert, author of Charles Darwin, Geologist


Contents

Introduction. Darwin's Islands 1

Part 1. Before Galápagos
CHAPTER I. Curious Beginnings 25
Born to Science 25
Shrewsbury 30
Edinburgh 32
Cambridge 33

CHAPTER II. Voyage of the Beagle 39
Offer of a Lifetime 39
The Beagle 43
Captain and Crew 45
Life on Board 49

CHAPTER III. Gearing for Galapagos 52
First Stop, Paradise 53
A Massive Discovery 56
A Change of Perspective 58
The Proof of the Pudding 62
A Bump in the Road 64
Uplifting Andes 66
Bound for "Novel Ground" 67

Part 2. Galápagos
CHAPTER IV. Chatham Island (Isla San Cristóbal) 75
Surveying Galápagos 76
Fit for Pandemonium 80
Golden Age of Whaling 81
Strangers to Man 91
A League from the Coast 96
"Waterfalls!" 99
Land of Craters 101

CHAPTER V. Charles Island (Isla Floreana) 111
An Oasis in the Desert 111
Early Human Colonization 114
Darwin's "Mocking-thrush" 118
Tortoise Tales 122
Post Office Collections 131
Alien Invaders: The Human Factor 133
Views from the Top 140
A Confusion of Finches 143

CHAPTER VI. Albemarle Island (Isla Isabela) 155
Vulcan's Playground 155
A Little World within Itself 158

CHAPTER VII. James Island (Isla Santiago) 175
The Sky for a Roof, the Ground for a Table 175
A Highland Marathon 179
Igneous Ingenuity 187
Darwin's Snails 191
Salt and Sugar 195
A Gathering of Giants 202
Wandering about Bird Collecting 204
Halley's Comet 209

Part 3. After Galápagos
CHAPTER VIII. Homeward Bound 217
Looking Back, Leaping Forward 217
Dis-Belief 222

CHAPTER IX. A New Voyage 226
A Theory by Which to Work 230
"A Wonderful Spot" 231
Seeds across the Sea 235
The Book That Shook the World 238
"The Origin of'The Origin' " 240
At Home, at Work 242

Appendixes
Island and Site Names in Galápagos 245
Bearing Darwin's Name in Galápagos 248
HMS Beagle's Complement 251

Acknowledgments 253
Notes 257
Further Reading 335
Index 337
Vertebrate Species Collected in Galápagos 349
Illustration Credits 353


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Biography

K. Thalia Grant is a naturalist with extensive knowledge of Darwin and Galapagos. She has conducted ecological and historical research on the islands since 1973 and has lived there since 1995. Gregory B. Estes has worked as a naturalist in Galapagos since 1982, leading island trips, lecturing on Darwin, and conducting research. Grant and Estes organize educational trips to the islands and work as consultants for film groups.

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