This question is a book request. I am wondering if there are any books with these elements:

  • Tells the history of Darwin's discoveries.
  • Captures Darwin's changing views of the origins of species, because of his discoveries and his thinking on the subject.
  • Is a modern text but incorporates some of Darwin's writings (e.g. from the Voyage of the Beagle, etc).

Note: I am not asking for a book that is just explaining the process of natural selection, rather I am looking for a historical book about Darwin's discoveries and the inception and development and eventually his publication of his theory of natural selection.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ On your second point, for the most part, Darwin's views were fully formed within a few years of his return from the Beagle. They didn't really slowly change. But he was slow to publish for a variety of reasons. $\endgroup$
    – Karl Kjer
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 12:31
  • $\begingroup$ @KarlKjer While that is somewhat true, I think there is a lot of nuance missing from that description, and Darwin certainly wavered on things and shifted his views prior to that time; the slow publication is only one aspect of the story. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Commented Oct 2, 2018 at 15:50

1 Answer 1


I'm not certain it fills every element of your question, but I really enjoyed Michael Ruse's "The Darwinian Revolution: Science Red in Tooth and Claw."

It's especially good for setting up the collection of worldviews that predated Darwin, and the influence on him by both biologists/anatomists as well as very crucially geologists like Charles Lyell (Darwin really thought of himself more as a geologist; the long time prior to publishing Origin was largely because he was trying to build up some scientific chops as a biologist).

The aspect it is most likely to lack is references to original source material from Darwin. While it certainly draws on such writings, I don't recall it actually containing reproductions of those writings, at least not on a substantial basis.

Importantly, however, this book is not a biography - it is a history of the scientific community at the time, centered around Darwin and Origin and placing them in relevant context.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks a lot (+1). To not discourage others from answering, I will wait some time before accepting. $\endgroup$
    – Eff
    Commented Oct 3, 2018 at 6:59

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