The Voyage Of The Beagle is one of Darwin’s most readable books. It was originally published as a popular adventure journal and was something of a bestseller for a few years. Besides, being a first rate naturalist Darwin was also an excellent writer and he does an amazing job of conveying the sense of newness and excitement that greeted explorers during his time.

For modern readers the chapter on Galapagos Archipelago is the most interesting. It is here that Darwin presents the questions he would later try to answer in On The Origin Of The Species by Means of Natural Selection. Since the book was intended to be popular you’ll find no mention of controversial theories, only subtile speculation. It’s thrilling to read Darwin’s daring questions when you realise the impact they would have not only on biology-- but our popular understanding of the nature of life on earth.

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