DARWIN AND THE BEAGLE by Alan Moorehead
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DARWIN AND THE BEAGLE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More popular in approach than Sir Gavin de Beer's vivid recreation of the five-year voyage contained in his biography of Darwin (1966), this story of the historic venture is nonetheless discreet in conjecture and told with Mr. Moorehead's customary vigor and skill. Of particular interest to the author is the tightrope relationship between two young men who initially respected and liked one another's company--Charles Darwin and Robert Fitzroy, Captain of the Beagle. An aristocratic Tory, a brilliant navigator, a stern, proud, religious man, Fitzroy had been sent to survey coasts of the Southern Hemisphere. The boyish and engaging Darwin finally clambered on board as naturalist, after a series of chances and spur-of-the-moment decisions to detour from his intended clerical career. Following the initial miseries of seasickness and shipboard orientation, Darwin totally succumbed to the excitement of exploration, collection and discovery through wild, exotic, dangerous, difficult terrains and seas. And almost imperceptibly Darwin's inherited religious conditioning melted away before the assault of evidences of the earth's upheavals, the dazzling varities in species of flora, fauna--and incidentally, man. Moorehead conveys with spirit Darwin's boundless physical and intellectual energy, but also touches on the enigma of Fitzroy, his bafflement and anger in the face of failure and the pathos of his largely ignored appearance at the famous Oxford ""trial"" thirty years after the voyage.

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1969
Publisher: Harper & Row