List Of Books To Celebrate Charles Darwin's 200th Anniversary

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12 February 2009 marked the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. Here are Bookbag's picks of the books celebrating this giant of science, both from those that are loudly singing Happy Birthday, and those that we've previously enjoyed.


On the Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition by Charles Darwin and David Quammen (Author and Editor)

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A formidable volume in size, but this companionable republishing of the first edition, with so many brilliant illustrations and added written features is a must-buy. It might remain a coffee-table item and not a well-digested science classic, but that is the risk we must face. Full review...

Darwin's Sacred Cause: Race, Slavery and the Quest for Human Origins by Adrian Desmond and James Moore

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This is a hefty chunk of scientific history, with an exceedingly detailed picking at Darwin's thoughts and career developing and writing on human evolution. To the specialist it is worth its weight in the gold, to the man in the street, perfectly readable yet two times too big. Full review...

Darwin: A Life in Science by John Gribbin and Michael White

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A straightforward account of Darwin's life, happily free from psychological speculation. It benefits from providing summaries of the scientific theories that influenced Darwin's work, making it ideal for the reader with a casual interest in science. An excellent companion to Darwin's On the Origin of the Species. Full review...

Why Evolution is True by Jerry A Coyne

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A lucid and fluent account of the evidence for the fact of evolution by natural selection. It will not persuade the hard-line creationists, but will clarify, explain and deepen the understanding of the theory of evolution for everybody else. Indispensable. Full review...

Darwin's Armada: Four Voyagers to the Southern Oceans and Their Battle for the Theory of Evolution by Iain McCalman

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A look at Darwin's journey on The Beagle, as well as journeys by Joseph Hooker, Thomas Huxley and Alfred Wallace. Darwin's Armada provides a broad overview that strikes a different tone to other books in a crowded market. Casual readers who usually steer clear of non-fiction will enjoy it. Full review...

The Cure by Michael Coleman

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More a defence of intellectual freedom than a battle of science and faith, this is a wonderfully tight psychological thriller that doesn't duck the issues with a neat happy ending. However, its vision of a kind of fundamentalist science may cloud understanding in some younger readers. Full review...

A Devil's Chaplain: Reflections on Hope, Lies, Science, and Love by Richard Dawkins

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A collection of essays, articles and reviews on science and religion, Darwin and evolution, humans and animals, truth and relativism written in excellent style by Richard Dawkins of the 'Selfish Gene' fame. Newcomers to evolution theory might find it bit difficult at times, but everybody can admire the clarity of thought and the passion with which Dawkins champions scientific truths and rational thought. The attacks on religion seem slightly off-the-mark, though. Full review...

Shapes by Philip Ball

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This is an excellent thought-provoking synthesis of the science behind shapes and patterns in nature. It can be a challenging read, but the wealth of examples and illustrations help to keep the reader engaged. Full review...

Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin

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An accessible, concise but brimming with detail and anecdote book showing how human bodies carry an inheritance that goes to the very beginning of life on Earth and demonstrating the fundamental unity of all living organisms. Recommended, especially for those with a little background in natural sciences. Full review...

Supercontinent by Ted Nield

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The broad sweep, energy and the way in which insights into science in general and the human condition are linked to the main subject matter of the ancient history of Earth is truly impressive. Although a fairly demanding read, this comes recommended by the BookBag for anybody interested in the natural sciences, the Earth and the place of humans on the planet and in the world in general. Full review...

The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing by Richard Dawkins

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A collection of shining examples from the last 100 years, demonstrating how exhilarating and enjoyable the best science writing can be. One to dip in and savour in small doses at your leisure, it comes recommended for all even mildly interested in science and/or lovers of anthologies in general. Full review...

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