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In Darwin’s Shadow

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About the book

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In Darwin’s Shadow explores the multi-faceted side of this polymathic genius, including his work in ancient history and archaeology, animal behavior, astronomy and cosmology, botany, entomology, ethnography and ethnology, evolutionary ethics, evolutionary theory, exobiology, history of science and evolutionary thought, geography and geology, linguistics, the origins of life and the plurality of worlds, paleontology, phrenology, primatology, spiritualism, systematics and taxonomy, and zoology. Shermer also delves into the many eccentric and fringe causes championed by Wallace throughout his career: anti-vaccination, conservation of the environment, crime and punishment, eugenics, labor reform, land nationalization, railroad nationalization, religion and the role of institutionalized churches, socialism, trade regulation, and women’s rights and suffrage.

Finally, In Darwin’s Shadow applies the methods of the social sciences to explain how it is that the greatest intellectual revolution in history could have been led by these two men — Darwin and Wallace — who could not have been more dissimilar in their social and economic backgrounds, yet they shared other important personality-shaping variables, and historical contingencies, that led them down similar paths toward intellectual rebelliousness. In Darwin’s Shadow is itself a heretical biography, concluding with an epilogue that considers the nature of historical change, as well as why history should be treated as a science.

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