The name Charles Darwin has become so embroiled in the current debate between evolution and creationism, it is easy to forget what a vivid travel memoir this earlier work is, and how nimbly its author integrates insights from biology, geology, and anthropology.
There were in fact two voyages of the HMS Beagle, the second departing from Plymouth late in 1831. Darwin’s account was published in 1839, a full 20 years before his landmark On the Origin of Species, but attracted considerable attention at the time. One of the fascinating things about The Voyage of the Beagle is the glimpse it offers of Darwin’s mind at work, his ideas still fluid and incomplete. It is also striking, considering how Darwin has since been positioned in opposition to a religious worldview, how full of wonder is Darwin’s account of the connections he sees across continents and species. A must for anyone interested in Darwinism and the man himself.