Darwin's Ghosts

The Secret History of Evolution
Darwin's Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution. Spiegel & Grau. Jun. 2012. c.416p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400069378. $27. SCI
OrangeReviewStarAn excellent writer, Stott (English, Univ. of East Anglia; Darwin and the Barnacle) draws for readers stories of the people who came before Darwin and who presented ideas that were precursors to the theory of evolution. While Darwin described as he saw it the process now known as evolution, he was standing on the shoulders of giants. Though for the most part he did not realize it, his theory had itself evolved from other ideas. Many of the thinkers and ideas presented in this book—each chapter covers a new individual—Darwin was not aware of until after the publication of On the Origin of Species. After receiving a critical letter, he compiled a list of his scientific predecessors to be included in the foreword of later editions. Scott discusses many of them, including Aristotle, Al-Jahiz, Leonardo da Vinci, and Denis Diderot.
VERDICT A beautifully told story of the history of the idea that would become evolution and about those who helped create it. Highly recommend.
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