The Descent of Man

The Concise Edition

Foreword by Frans DeWaal
Edited by Carl Zimmer
Commentaries by Carl Zimmer
Notes by Carl Zimmer
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The most accessible edition ever published of Darwin's incendiary classic, edited by "as fine a science essayist as we have" (New York Times)

The Descent of Man, Darwin's second landmark work on evolutionary theory (following The Origin of the Species), marked a turning point in the history of science with its modern vision of human nature as the product of evolution. Darwin argued that the noblest features of humans, such as language and morality, were the result of the same natural processes that produced iris petals and scorpion tails.

To convey the revolutionary importance of this groundbreaking book, renowned evolutionary science writer Carl Zimmer edited this special abridged edition—made up of nine excerpts, each one representing one of Darwin's major themes—and wrote illuminating introductions to each section, as well as an overall introduction. Zimmer brilliantly places Darwin's basic ideas in the context of the current understanding of human nature and twenty-first-century DNA research. By accessibly presenting Darwin's thinking to a modern readership, Zimmer eloquently demonstrates Darwin's ever-increasing relevance and amazing scientific insight.
Charles Robert Darwin was born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, England, to a wealthy intellectual family, his grandfather being the famous physician Erasmus Darwin. At Cambridge University he formed a friendship with J. S. Henslow, a professor of botany, and that association, along with his enthusiasm for collecting beetles, led to “a burning zeal,” as he wrote in his Autobiography, for the natural sciences. When Henslow obtained for him the post of naturalist on H.M.S. Beagle, the course of his life was fixed. The five-year-long voyage to the Southern Hemisphere between 1831 and 1836 would lay the foundation for his ideas about evolution and natural selection. Upon his return Darwin lived in London before retiring to his residence at Down, a secluded village in Kent. For the next forty years he conducted his research there and wrote the works that would change human understanding forever. Knowing of the resistance from the orthodox scientific and religious communities, Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859 only when another naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, independently reached the same conclusions. His other works include The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) and Recollections of My Mind and Character, also titled Autobiography (1887). Charles Darwin’s Diary of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle was published posthumously in 1933. Darwin died in 1882; he is buried in Westminster Abbey. View titles by Charles Darwin
“[Darwin’s] second great book . . . An intellectually daring feat.” —Richard O. Prum, in The Evolution of Beauty

About

The most accessible edition ever published of Darwin's incendiary classic, edited by "as fine a science essayist as we have" (New York Times)

The Descent of Man, Darwin's second landmark work on evolutionary theory (following The Origin of the Species), marked a turning point in the history of science with its modern vision of human nature as the product of evolution. Darwin argued that the noblest features of humans, such as language and morality, were the result of the same natural processes that produced iris petals and scorpion tails.

To convey the revolutionary importance of this groundbreaking book, renowned evolutionary science writer Carl Zimmer edited this special abridged edition—made up of nine excerpts, each one representing one of Darwin's major themes—and wrote illuminating introductions to each section, as well as an overall introduction. Zimmer brilliantly places Darwin's basic ideas in the context of the current understanding of human nature and twenty-first-century DNA research. By accessibly presenting Darwin's thinking to a modern readership, Zimmer eloquently demonstrates Darwin's ever-increasing relevance and amazing scientific insight.

Author

Charles Robert Darwin was born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, England, to a wealthy intellectual family, his grandfather being the famous physician Erasmus Darwin. At Cambridge University he formed a friendship with J. S. Henslow, a professor of botany, and that association, along with his enthusiasm for collecting beetles, led to “a burning zeal,” as he wrote in his Autobiography, for the natural sciences. When Henslow obtained for him the post of naturalist on H.M.S. Beagle, the course of his life was fixed. The five-year-long voyage to the Southern Hemisphere between 1831 and 1836 would lay the foundation for his ideas about evolution and natural selection. Upon his return Darwin lived in London before retiring to his residence at Down, a secluded village in Kent. For the next forty years he conducted his research there and wrote the works that would change human understanding forever. Knowing of the resistance from the orthodox scientific and religious communities, Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1859 only when another naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, independently reached the same conclusions. His other works include The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871) and Recollections of My Mind and Character, also titled Autobiography (1887). Charles Darwin’s Diary of the Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle was published posthumously in 1933. Darwin died in 1882; he is buried in Westminster Abbey. View titles by Charles Darwin

Praise

“[Darwin’s] second great book . . . An intellectually daring feat.” —Richard O. Prum, in The Evolution of Beauty

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