During their lifetimes, Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin
shared credit and fame for the independent and near-simultaneous
discovery of natural selection. Together, the two men spearheaded
one of the greatest intellectual revolutions in modern history, and
their rivalry, usually amicable but occasionally acrimonious,
forged modern evolutionary theory. Yet today, few people today know
much about Wallace.
The Heretic in Darwin's Court explores the
controversial life and scientific contributions of Alfred Russel
Wallace -- Victorian traveler, scientist, spiritualist, and
co-discoverer with Charles Darwin of natural selection. After
examining his early years, the biography turns to Wallace's twelve
years of often harrowing travels in the western and eastern
tropics, which place him in the pantheon of the greatest
explorer-naturalists of the nineteenth century. Tracing
step-by-step his discovery of natural selection -- a piece of
scientific detective work as revolutionary in its implications as
the discovery of the structure of DNA -- the book then follows the
remaining fifty years of Wallace's eccentric and entertaining life.
In addition to his divergence from Darwin on two fundamental issues
-- sexual selection and the origin of the human mind -- he pursued
topics that most scientific figures of his day conspicuously
avoided, including spiritualism, phrenology, mesmerism,
environmentalism, and life on Mars.
Although there may be disagreement about his conclusions,
Wallace's intellectual investigations into the origins of life,
consciousness, and the universe itself remain some of the most
inspired scientific accomplishments in history. This authoritative
biography casts new light on the life and work of Alfred Russel
Wallace and the importance of his twenty-five-year relationship
with Charles Darwin.
Subjects: History, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
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