Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mini Review: Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman

Charles and Emma:  The Darwins' Leap of Faith--Deborah Heiligman
December 2008 by Henry Holt and Co.
272 pages--Goodreads

Charles Darwin published The Origin of Species, his revolutionary tract on evolution and the fundamental ideas involved, in 1859. Nearly 150 years later, the theory of evolution continues to create tension between the scientific and religious communities. Challenges about teaching the theory of evolution in schools occur annually all over the country. This same debate raged within Darwin himself, and played an important part in his marriage: his wife, Emma, was quite religious, and her faith gave Charles a lot to think about as he worked on a theory that continues to spark intense debates.

Deborah Heiligman's new biography of Charles Darwin is a thought-provoking account of the man behind evolutionary theory: how his personal life affected his work and vice versa. The end result is an engaging exploration of history, science, and religion for young readers.

Charles and Emma
 is an interesting biography.  It let me get to know Charles and Emma Darwin as people.  I love how the biography focuses on their relationship as well as Darwin's theories.  The science story is well known, but I had never known how much Darwin struggled with the publication of his theories, both because of the inevitable public backlash and because of his personal religious doubts.  And I've never seen Emma's side of the story represented before.

Quotes from the Darwins' diaries and letters are weaved in seamlessly with the narration.  Charles and Emma is an engaging text. This is good nonfiction.

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