Sunday, November 15, 2015

Darwin - A graphic biography

Darwin - A graphic biography
By Eugene Byrne and Simon Gurr
Smithsonian Books
Ages 10 +
Pic Src : Amazon

Under normal circumstances a book on Charles Darwin would not have tempted me. But a graphic novel on Charles Darwin seemed more interesting. It got my attention completely when in the first few pages you see that the book is a narration of Charles Darwin's complete life, by apes - essentially a documentary of his life on Ape TV(the animal planet equivalent !), considering he established the significant connection between apes and humans.

The book does not start just with Charles Darwin, but from his grandfather Erasmus Darwin. It establishes the rich environment of science, curiosity, knowledge, learning and economic wealth, in which he was born and brought up. While meandering through various choices of his life- stumbling, failing, discovering new ideas, he finally lands on the ship HMS Beagle for an expedition around the South American coast.. A voyage, which not only alters the course of his life, but  earns itself  the moniker of a "historical expedition". The details of the expedition given in the book are very interesting - personal anecdotes, tidbits of scientific information, his thought process etc. As we read the book we discover not just the naturalist Charles Darwin, but a principled human being who was against slavery, a loving father who enjoyed showing his experiments to his kids and much more. There is plenty of humor to keep us entertained too.

The book also talks of  his trying times, where science could not challenge the religious authorities and a lot of his work initially had to be kept under wraps fearing the wrath of the public and religious heads. It required time, patience and courage for his journals to be published.

The humor in the book is brought out very well in the graphic novel format by Simon Gurr. The interesting information on Charles Drawin's life, complemented by the black and white illustrations make this book a very interesting read.

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