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Darwin: A Graphic Biography

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Darwin: A Graphic Biography is an inspiring expedition into the physical and intellectual adventures of Charles Darwin. Presenting Darwin's life in a smart and entertaining graphic novel, Darwin: A Graphic Biography attempts to not only educate the reader about Darwin but also the scientific world of the 1800s. The graphic medium is ideal for recreating a very specific tim Darwin: A Graphic Biography is an inspiring expedition into the physical and intellectual adventures of Charles Darwin. Presenting Darwin's life in a smart and entertaining graphic novel, Darwin: A Graphic Biography attempts to not only educate the reader about Darwin but also the scientific world of the 1800s. The graphic medium is ideal for recreating a very specific time frame, succeeding in placing the reader right next to a young Darwin on a "beetling" expedition. With specimens in both hands, and anxious to get another, Darwin ends up stuffing the third beetle into his mouth. Darwin's life presented in this form is an inspirational tale for kids of all ages. They'll be sure to identify with a curious young Darwin finding his way on youthful adventures in the fields near his house. The ups, downs, and near-misses of Darwin's youth are portrayed honestly and without foreshadowing of his later fame. This is a key point for younger readers: that Darwin wasn't somehow predestined to greatness. He was curious, patient, and meticulous. He persevered--a great lesson about what science is all about.


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Darwin: A Graphic Biography is an inspiring expedition into the physical and intellectual adventures of Charles Darwin. Presenting Darwin's life in a smart and entertaining graphic novel, Darwin: A Graphic Biography attempts to not only educate the reader about Darwin but also the scientific world of the 1800s. The graphic medium is ideal for recreating a very specific tim Darwin: A Graphic Biography is an inspiring expedition into the physical and intellectual adventures of Charles Darwin. Presenting Darwin's life in a smart and entertaining graphic novel, Darwin: A Graphic Biography attempts to not only educate the reader about Darwin but also the scientific world of the 1800s. The graphic medium is ideal for recreating a very specific time frame, succeeding in placing the reader right next to a young Darwin on a "beetling" expedition. With specimens in both hands, and anxious to get another, Darwin ends up stuffing the third beetle into his mouth. Darwin's life presented in this form is an inspirational tale for kids of all ages. They'll be sure to identify with a curious young Darwin finding his way on youthful adventures in the fields near his house. The ups, downs, and near-misses of Darwin's youth are portrayed honestly and without foreshadowing of his later fame. This is a key point for younger readers: that Darwin wasn't somehow predestined to greatness. He was curious, patient, and meticulous. He persevered--a great lesson about what science is all about.

30 review for Darwin: A Graphic Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Shepherd

    Darwin For People In A Hurry 2013 - This is what a graphic biography should be - clear, concise, unbiased and exquisitely illustrated. 100 pages of coherent relevance with just a touch of humor here and there (I literally laughed out loud more than once). If you want an introduction to the life and legacy of Charles Darwin without the time commitment of his 224 page autobiography, this is your book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    Overall, this is a good, brief biography of Charles Darwin, and a good, brief introduction to his theory of evolution. Quibbles: It could have used some additional editing--there's at least one egregious typo, and a single page about three natives from Tierra del Fuego interrupts the flow of the narrative: it either needed to be cut, or the story needed to be expanded upon & worked into the larger story. The biography also suffers from largely-unacknowledged Eurocentrism (it makes claims about " Overall, this is a good, brief biography of Charles Darwin, and a good, brief introduction to his theory of evolution. Quibbles: It could have used some additional editing--there's at least one egregious typo, and a single page about three natives from Tierra del Fuego interrupts the flow of the narrative: it either needed to be cut, or the story needed to be expanded upon & worked into the larger story. The biography also suffers from largely-unacknowledged Eurocentrism (it makes claims about "the world believed X" when in reality those beliefs applied primarily to Europe & the US) and speaks as if everyone in the world at the time was either a Christian or (rarely) an atheist. Perhaps the authors found this necessary, due to the constraints of making a graphic-novel biography directed at young adults? These issues aside, this book is a nice introduction to Darwin and to evolution, and is best for young adults (I'd say middle school and above).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A very good look at Darwin's life and a good overview of evolution.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly McCollum

    I picked this up in the public library and wanted to see if it would be worth recommending to my students. I didn’t like the gimmicky introduction, but there were a few details that I hadn’t come across in my other readings about Darwin. Overall, it is probably too simplistic for the students I teach.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dov Zeller

    I have mixed feelings about this book, but gave it a four for effort. The writer and illustrator clearly want to paint a picture of Darwin and his cultural surroundings. They bring to life the controversies and tensions that kept Darwin from publishing his work on evolution (he waited quite a few years), and they focus on the tensions that are still at play today and try to clarify for their readers the difference between a theory and a hypothesis (i.e. evolution is a theory, solidly backed up b I have mixed feelings about this book, but gave it a four for effort. The writer and illustrator clearly want to paint a picture of Darwin and his cultural surroundings. They bring to life the controversies and tensions that kept Darwin from publishing his work on evolution (he waited quite a few years), and they focus on the tensions that are still at play today and try to clarify for their readers the difference between a theory and a hypothesis (i.e. evolution is a theory, solidly backed up by a whole lot of data. It is not a hypothesis, and not something that people can legitimately say they "don't agree with" just for the fun of it, with no evidence to support their own crackpot notions.) Unfortunately, as another reviewer brought up, the writers write as if there is no world of people or of ideas beyond the European world and its colonies (or former colonies) and explorations. And Byrne and Gurr frame the story as a documentary being made by apes. Throughout the book they have a lot of animals commenting on the obnoxiousness and stupidity of humans, While I tend to agree with those sentiments, it didn't make sense in the context of the books. It felt very forced, added on for the sake of entertainment, but in a different register than the rest. My sense is that Byrne and Gurr are still finding their voices as a writing/illustrating team, but that they will have a lot to contribute to the world of graphic non-fiction. (They've already written a book on the history of Bristol, which I wish I could get a hold of.) I look forward to seeing what they do next.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Becki Iverson

    As you may have realized after reading through my reviews, I am a huge fan of using the graphic novel to elevate otherwise dry/overwrought subject matter into something beautiful and entertaining and new. I was looking for that in this short biography of Darwin, and I guess I sort of got it... I mean, the amount of information they have crammed into this little book is most certainly impressive. It covers pretty much all of the salient theories of Darwin as well as his life and a brief history of As you may have realized after reading through my reviews, I am a huge fan of using the graphic novel to elevate otherwise dry/overwrought subject matter into something beautiful and entertaining and new. I was looking for that in this short biography of Darwin, and I guess I sort of got it... I mean, the amount of information they have crammed into this little book is most certainly impressive. It covers pretty much all of the salient theories of Darwin as well as his life and a brief history of religion vs. science, all in around 100 pages! However, I can't help but wonder if the densely presented amount of info in "Darwin" actually detracts from its educational factor. It gets a little hard to focus on one narrative when its' constantly weaving in and out of different subjects, and the monkey narrators (?) don't help either. But still, I can see this as a really great way to introduce middle or high school kids to Darwin, and I sincerely hope there are more educational graphic novels released in the future. It's certainly a hell of a lot more fun than a text book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This is why I don't normally read in bed! I couldn't sleep last night so I picked up this book. I finally had to force myself to put it down when I reached the half way point so I could get some sleep! Yup, that means I like it a lot. It's a good, fun intro to evolution, some historical stuff on the British Navy, and how to think like a scientist. Highly recommended reading for smart kids and adults alike, but it is probably too high of a reading level for politicians, even though it is a comic This is why I don't normally read in bed! I couldn't sleep last night so I picked up this book. I finally had to force myself to put it down when I reached the half way point so I could get some sleep! Yup, that means I like it a lot. It's a good, fun intro to evolution, some historical stuff on the British Navy, and how to think like a scientist. Highly recommended reading for smart kids and adults alike, but it is probably too high of a reading level for politicians, even though it is a comic book. Ha ha!

  8. 5 out of 5

    BlurryBug

    I read this for borrowathon for "a book from your favourite genre" I really love non fiction graphic novels. This was easily understandable, I have read a lot about Darwin, from Darwin and about evolution theory, so that may have affected my view. However, they made this book very approachable. Made up to be a documentary in graphic novel form with some funny hosts. What else can one ask for? 5 stars all the way.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kaitlin Mooney

    I should pick up more historical graphic novels. It is so much easier to digest information this way and it really sticks with you. This book is very informative but doesn't forget it is a comic, there are jokes, fun side comments and great illustrations. The book stays very true to its claim as a biography as well.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Komi Amegblenke

    I don't think I would have read this biography if it wasn't put in this format. This was a quick refresher on the man who helped started the whole theory of natural selection/evolution. If it wasn't for him (and the other people who he got some of his ideas from), I don't believe we would be as advanced as we are at the moment.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Clear and entertaining account of Darwin's life and works, presented as the background for a film being made by a bunch of chimp actors who haven't figured things out. Darwin comes across as an appealing and admirable man, not just a brilliant one.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elia

    An excellent introduction to the work of Darwin, mostly for younger readers. Instead of rote memorization, they get to explore who he was and what lead him to all adventures and ideas. It highlights the importance of questions and curiosity, which is the true motive for any scientist.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Simon

    Educational and funny while respecting the subject matter. top marks Mr Byrne.

  14. 4 out of 5

    wildct2003

    Very good bio on Darwin and his theory. Also refers to the Wallace Line, as shown outside the Australia house at the Columbus Zoo.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Darwin: A Graphic Biography is a biographical graphic novel written by Eugene Byrne and illustrated by Simon Gurr and it is a serviceable graphic summary of Darwin's life and achievement. Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. Darwin was an in Darwin: A Graphic Biography is a biographical graphic novel written by Eugene Byrne and illustrated by Simon Gurr and it is a serviceable graphic summary of Darwin's life and achievement. Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, geologist and biologist, best known for his contributions to the science of evolution. His proposition that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors is now widely accepted, and considered a foundational concept in science. Darwin was an indifferent student and someone whose future by no means seemed secured, until he received an invitation to take a voyage that would irrevocably change history. The commander of an expedition was looking for a gentleman-naturalist as a companion, someone who could keep him company as more of an equal than the crew under him. The animals he encountered seemed so different than ones he'd known that he theorized that if it weren't a matter of different conditions that resulted in such transmutation, they might well have had a different creator. The text corrects common misconceptions concerning social Darwinism and survival of the fittest, yet is misleading in its attempt to reconcile creationism with Darwin's theory. Darwin: A Graphic Biography was written and constructed somewhat well. The narrative uses the framing device of a group of wisecracking monkeys recording a nature special, which sees Darwin as a misfit who never quite found a place in regular society. Gurr's black and white art is skillfully executed, but it does little to further the narrative on its own, and the book falls into a pattern of dense text explanations with drawings that fill in examples. All in all, Darwin: A Graphic Biography is a serviceable, albeit cursory look at Charles Darwin – a tad too text heavy for graphic novels, but serviceable nevertheless.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bayneeta

    Young Adult--probably middle-school. Small print, and quite a bit of it. Lots of information squeezed into 95 pages.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    Lots of good information and cute illustrations (the book is narrated by a group of primates), but could've used some better editing. There was one random page about three natives from Tierra Del Fuego that Darwin and his crewmates took back to England and later back to Tierra Del Fuego that didn't connect to the surrounding pages very well. Also, for a book on a scientist, a naturalist and biologist no less, you'd think they wouldn't make the mistake of using phrases like "neither animals nor b Lots of good information and cute illustrations (the book is narrated by a group of primates), but could've used some better editing. There was one random page about three natives from Tierra Del Fuego that Darwin and his crewmates took back to England and later back to Tierra Del Fuego that didn't connect to the surrounding pages very well. Also, for a book on a scientist, a naturalist and biologist no less, you'd think they wouldn't make the mistake of using phrases like "neither animals nor birds" or "plants, animals, fish, microbes, all living things". Birds and fish are animals! This is one of my biggest pet peeves and had I been the editor I would've changed those to "none of the animals" and "plants, animals, microbes, all living things". Otherwise enjoyable, although you'll need to remember it's written for younger readers so don't feel condescended to when they define words you know the meaning of (that reminds me of another editing mistake - in the same paragraph they defined mutations as "little changes" and then as "tiny changes" - the problem, to be clear, not that they changed from little to tiny, but that they defined it twice).

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sonic

    I really enjoyed this. I have always felt that people subscribe to a primitive notion of what evolution means in a religious way. In fact, I think people are so EAGER to dismiss religion that they religiously accept, swallow, and believe what they consider to be scientific ideas without really having a substantial understanding of those ideas (much like the religious ideas that they reject.) Of course I have always hated the idea that science and religion are opposite from each other or that they I really enjoyed this. I have always felt that people subscribe to a primitive notion of what evolution means in a religious way. In fact, I think people are so EAGER to dismiss religion that they religiously accept, swallow, and believe what they consider to be scientific ideas without really having a substantial understanding of those ideas (much like the religious ideas that they reject.) Of course I have always hated the idea that science and religion are opposite from each other or that they are fighting for the same turf, as it were. So it was really nice to be re-acquianted with Darwin's ideas and to learn much more about his personal life story. I still think that there is much that is ignored in the name of swallowing the mainstream of science's well-defended dogmas, however it might not be the job of a graphic novel to get into the nitty gritty. But maybe we should chew what we are spoon-fed before we all swallow, .... What do you think?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Popzara Press

    It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as Darwin: A Graphic Biography has moments that truly do feel inspired and benefit from the illustrated approach, particularly Darwin’s famous survey expedition aboard the ship HMS Beagle, which, truth be told, might have been a better subject than a broad biography. But too often its ambitions can feel weighed down by the sheer volume of Byrne's historical information, which even Gurr's playful artwork has trouble complimenting in ways that seem natural and It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as Darwin: A Graphic Biography has moments that truly do feel inspired and benefit from the illustrated approach, particularly Darwin’s famous survey expedition aboard the ship HMS Beagle, which, truth be told, might have been a better subject than a broad biography. But too often its ambitions can feel weighed down by the sheer volume of Byrne's historical information, which even Gurr's playful artwork has trouble complimenting in ways that seem natural and entertaining. A lack of focus about its intentions doesn't help, either, as the story often seems like its dueling with a defense of evolutionary theory over its famous namesake. A noble effort, but one that seems inappropriate for its recommended audience. Darwin: A Graphic Biography Review on Popzara

  20. 5 out of 5

    okyrhoe

    I enjoyed this, even though it reads as if it's an educational supplement for school rather than a 'real' graphic work (with artistic merit). There were moments when I minded the didactic tone of the narrative presentation, especially at the conclusion where the debate regarding the teaching of the theory of evolution in American schools was covered. It's an important issue, and I do believe there's a world of a difference btwn theory/hypothesis/belief; I just didn't like the 'tone' in this segm I enjoyed this, even though it reads as if it's an educational supplement for school rather than a 'real' graphic work (with artistic merit). There were moments when I minded the didactic tone of the narrative presentation, especially at the conclusion where the debate regarding the teaching of the theory of evolution in American schools was covered. It's an important issue, and I do believe there's a world of a difference btwn theory/hypothesis/belief; I just didn't like the 'tone' in this segment. Maybe if the animals themselves were allowed to 'speak their minds' as they do in the rest of the book.... Reading this brief biography has piqued my interest in Darwin's travels, and I think I may look for an in-depth account of his life, adventures, and discoveries.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    The 13 Best Biographies, Memoirs, and History Books of 2013 Joining other famous graphic biographies of cultural icons like Richard Feynman, Hunter S. Thompson, The Carter Family, and Steve Jobs, Darwin: A Graphic Biography (public library) offers a delightful visual take on the story of the father of evolution, decoder of human emotion, hopeless romantic, and occasional grump. Written by journalist Eugene Byrne and illustrated by cartoonist Simon Gurr, the story takes us into the life and times o The 13 Best Biographies, Memoirs, and History Books of 2013 Joining other famous graphic biographies of cultural icons like Richard Feynman, Hunter S. Thompson, The Carter Family, and Steve Jobs, Darwin: A Graphic Biography (public library) offers a delightful visual take on the story of the father of evolution, decoder of human emotion, hopeless romantic, and occasional grump. Written by journalist Eugene Byrne and illustrated by cartoonist Simon Gurr, the story takes us into the life and times of Darwin — from a curious child on a “beeting” expedition to a patient young man persevering through the ups and downs of battling creationist oppression to a worldwide legend — tracing his intellectual adventures amidst the fascinating scientific world of the 1800s.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Hayes

    A "comic book", all grown up, of Darwin's life and work. I liked the humanizing... of Darwin, but not so much the humanized apes. The rather silly premise of the apes making a documentary about Charles Darwin was a little thin. Having said that, the information was accurate and interesting -- I even learned a thing or two about Darwin that I didn't know before. I didn't know that he was an avid "beetler", nor did I realize that the famous story of "the third beetle" was about Darwin. (Now you'll A "comic book", all grown up, of Darwin's life and work. I liked the humanizing... of Darwin, but not so much the humanized apes. The rather silly premise of the apes making a documentary about Charles Darwin was a little thin. Having said that, the information was accurate and interesting -- I even learned a thing or two about Darwin that I didn't know before. I didn't know that he was an avid "beetler", nor did I realize that the famous story of "the third beetle" was about Darwin. (Now you'll just have to read the biography, wont you?)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This was a really fun read. As a biography it was interesting to see how is life developed from a young rich playboy into a curious scientific genius. It also was great at explaining how his ideas developed out of his relationships with various mentors and colleagures. It explains a lot of the science behind his theories and touches upon how his religious, political, and scientific views interacted with each other. It is very densely written for a graphic novel---but I kept wanting to read more This was a really fun read. As a biography it was interesting to see how is life developed from a young rich playboy into a curious scientific genius. It also was great at explaining how his ideas developed out of his relationships with various mentors and colleagures. It explains a lot of the science behind his theories and touches upon how his religious, political, and scientific views interacted with each other. It is very densely written for a graphic novel---but I kept wanting to read more and more. It was hard to put this book down.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Raj

    This short graphic novel was being given away free as part of the Darwin 200 celebrations. It's a sketch (no pun intended) charting Darwin's life and the decisions and milestones that led to natural selection. The language is clear and pretty simple and the art is sketchy but clear. The book is framed by the device of a group of anthropomorphic apes making a documentary about an orchid and nebulously tying that to evolution. A good way to get an overview of Darwin's life.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    A short, engaging story about Charles Darwin's life and the development of his theories. The text blended well with the illustrations. The filmmaking monkeys were vaguely entertaining, but mostly distracting. I preferred the biography "Charles and Emma," which had more depth, but this graphic novel was a great overview.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kate Millin

    I found this very interesting, and I liked the style - I have never read a non fiction graphic novel (not surprising as I haven't read many graphic novels). The book was written as part of the Darwin celebrations and very approachable.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I liked the way this biography was presented, with apes and their questions driving the story. I also felt that much of the story of his expedition on The Beagle was aided by the graphic format. I did however feel that the overall story would have benefitted from more focus.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    Charles Darwin was an interesting character, and I was surprised to learn that he voyaged on The Beagle mostly by happenstance. Darwin has frequently been attacked for his theories, often for things he never said and did not imply.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    For those who want the rudiments of a biography without investing the time, this is a great way to decide whether to take on a full-length book. Many of the details of his life, health in particular, perhaps impacted by worries about how his work would be received, will stick with me forever.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sheena

    Had thousands of these for Darwin bicentenary but when I have got round to reading it it was quite interesting.First graphic novel

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