By Wook Kim
July 21, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin

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On an October day in 1836, Charles Darwin returned to England after nearly five years as a naturalist on a naval ship charting South America’s coastline. He was 27 and would never leave British soil again. Back home, the newly energized scientist — once a bored divinity school grad — began a dazzling line of intellectual inquiry that culminated, 23 long years later, in his landmark On the Origin of Species. Through lucid and invigorating prose in The Reluctant Mr. Darwin, David Quammen presents the triumph of a private, intense genius — battling afflictions mental, spiritual, and physical — and illuminates a largely misunderstood theory still at the white-hot center of national debate.

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin

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