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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2013
Print publication year:
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Book description

This volume is a comprehensive reference work on the life, labors and influence of the great evolutionist Charles Darwin. With more than sixty essays written by an international group representing the leading scholars in the field, this is the definitive work on Darwin. It covers the background to Darwin's discovery of the theory of evolution through natural selection, the work he produced and his contemporaries' reactions to it, and evaluates his influence on science in the 150 years since the publication of On the Origin of Species. It also explores the implications of Darwin's discoveries in religion, politics, gender, literature, culture, philosophy and medicine, critically evaluating Darwin's legacy. Fully illustrated and clearly written, it is suitable for scholars and students as well as the general reader. The wealth of information it provides about the history of evolutionary thought makes it a crucial resource for understanding the controversies that surround evolution today.


Winner of the 2013 PROSE Award for Single-Volume Reference in the Humanities and Social Sciences


'… this volume contains a wealth of information about both Darwin and evolutionary thought. Editor Ruse is known in the field of science writing for his work on Darwinism, evolution, and religion … The volume features many full-color plates of images, such as political cartoons, botanical drawings, and Darwin's original sketches/notes. Not many similar books are available … This new encyclopedia mostly will appeal to historians of science and those with a particular interest in the life story and impact of Darwin, though it could also serve as a primer on the basics of natural selection for undergraduates … Recommended …'

K. M. Sheffield Source: Choice

'I read only a sample of essays, especially those on topics more unfamiliar to me, and found myself educated at almost every turn … [an] outstanding source book, which should be in every university library and on many an instructor’s or scholar’s bookshelf.'

Douglas J. Futuyma Source: The Quarterly Review of Biology

'… important and ponderous …'

Source: Bionieuws

'The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Darwin and Evolutionary Thought can infect one with enthusiasm to learn about the era and the man; and when one will have finished reading the book one will have probably acquired the authors’ knowledge and thrill about one of the greatest ideas in Western civilization: evolution.'

Kostas Kampourakis Source: Science and Education

'… this will be a valuable com­pendium which will serve as a serious and comprehensive reference tool even in as crowded a field as that of Darwin studies.'

Philippa Levine Source: Victorian Studies

'This monumental work - intended to be a definitive reference on the topic - includes 60 essays by leading scholars examining Darwin's life, labours, ideas (and contemporaries reactions to them), plus his influence on virtually all our cultural and scientific underpinnings.'

Sarah Murdoch Source: Toronto Star

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