Book review: ‘Darwin in Scotland: Edinburgh, Evolution and Enlightenment’ by J.F. Derry

Darwin's influences and influencees north of the border.

Darwin in ScotlandDarwin in Scotland is really two-and-a-bit books interwoven:

Book 1 does exactly what it says on the cover, describing Darwin's time in Scotland, and how the people he met and the experiences he had in Scotland affected his later life and work. It is very well researched, and a fascinating read.

Book 2 comprises conversations between Derry and various scientists and academics, many with Scottish connections, on the subject of Darwin and evolution. The conversations are transcribed pretty much verbatim, making them pleasantly conversational—although the discussions themselves get pretty technical at times, which is to be applauded.

The remaining small bit of the book comprises a couple of similar conversations with creationists Ken Ham and William A. Dembski. I am not at all interested in what creationists have to say on the subject of Darwin, so, I have to admit, I skipped these sections.

On the whole, this unusual mix of subject matter works very well. The history bits are what we would expect to see covered in a book called Darwin in Scotland, and the interviews are, in general, interesting and entertaining.

One final comment on a pet subject of mine: well done Whittles Publishing for printing this book on excellent quality paper. I am fed up forking out money for books printed on recycled blotting paper. To read a book—especially a paperback—printed on such high quality paper is a rare treat in the UK these days.

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteFacebookTwitterNewsletterBooks
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