Editorial Reviews

Barnaby Edwards narrates this lengthy, gorgeously detailed book. Racked with nausea and homesickness, novice surveyor Darwin still managed to thoughtfully and minutely detail his five-year voyage on the H. M. S. Beagle. During this long collection expedition Darwin began to formulate methods and ideas for defining life on Earth through the lens of the natural world. This quest would eventually yield Darwin the theory of evolution. Darwin’s youth, passion, braininess, and precise speech evidence themselves in this analytical but highly personal travelogue. Edwards lets the text do the talking, and through his refined English accent the listener is transported to the rough and wildly exotic terrains Darwin is exploring. Mirroring Darwin, Edwards sounds restrained and civilized but awed by the new worlds unfolding before him.
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Publisher's Summary

”I hate every wave of the ocean”, the seasick Charles Darwin wrote to his family during his five-year voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle. It was this world-wide journey, however, that launched the scientists career.
The Voyage of the Beagle is Darwin's fascinating account of his trip - of his biological and geological observations and collection activities, of his speculations about the causes and theories behind scientific phenomena, of his interactions with various native peoples, of his beautiful descriptions of the lands he visited, and of his amazing discoveries in the Galapagos archipelago.
Although scientific in nature, the literary quality rivals those of John Muir and Henry Thoreau. Charles Robert Darwin, FRS (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection. Darwin published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species.
By the 1870s the scientific community and much of the general public had accepted evolution as a fact. However, many favoured competing explanations and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed in which natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution. In modified form, Darwin's scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.
Public Domain (P)2013 Audible Ltd
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By wbiro on 16-09-2017

High Adventure - Well Written

I did not know what to expect - I took a chance here.

Surprisingly (for me), I think this book inspired all subsequent high-adventure novels that feature an intellectual hero. Darwin rode with South American cowboys (gaucho's and huaso's), South American indians, encountered native islanders, savages, thieves, post-revolution states, Spanish nobility (the Spanish had been there 300 years already), indian miners, indian guides, high plains, deserts, snowy mountain passes, wide rocky wastelands, jungles, insects, wild animals, storms, earthquakes (and he hadn’t even gotten to the Galapagos yet)…

I had envisioned a meek botanist not straying too far from the boat, but no – he still had his youthful spirit (I had to remind myself that he was still in his early twenties). His account was mainly deep-land oriented. For example, at one point, he had a choice – to sail with the ship 480 miles south from Valparaiso, Chile, to the next port, or go by land. He went by mule with a couple of indian guides. Having found the coast insufficiently interesting, he then ventured high inland through the deserts and mountains of Chile, probably feeling it was his duty to explore (not to mention being up to the adventure).

What Darwin did was not only collect scientific data on geology, paleontology, meteorology, zoology, psychology, anthropology, sociology, botany, and any other branch of early science he could turn his attention to, he offered informed speculations whenever they came (in the effort to forward potentially-worthy hypotheses for future investigation); and not only that – he collected anecdotes of the many various peoples he encountered (which contributed to the 'high adventure' aspect of the book. As for the informed speculations – he demonstrate the preferred (and enjoyable) method that early scientists tried to use – divining reality through pure deduction and reasoning (rather than pure empiricism) – that is, piecing together pieces of knowledge like scientific Sherlock Holmes’s putting together a puzzling case.

What was most curious for me (besides the unexpected high adventure) was his perspective – what did people know on the science front back in 1832? Darwin was well-educated and well-read by then, and he covered a lot of scientific ground - it appears that one was expected to be well-versed in all the branches of science back then, and he must have continued expanding his education and readings while writing the book. You can see his thoughts on evolution germinating here, aided by Lyell's book and the previous works and theories of others. Some of the terms and notions were curious (‘infusia’ was a good one that he leaned on many times - a blanket term for whatever was too small to see). It was entertaining to see him speculate on things that we know a lot more about today, such as the effects of glaciers and the nature of volcanoes.

This was one of the later editions, because in several places he referred us to further scientific details in an ‘earlier edition’. I’m sure Darwin wanted to write a serious scientific journal, but I suspect the publisher noticed all the high adventure, and decided that it would make a good scaled-down book in itself (which it was).


The narrator had a fitting British accent, and handled the French footnotes and Spanish dialog well.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By KP on 28-04-2017

Very worth the time spent

This was a very good book to listen to as it brought you to a time where things were remote but not as remote as you would tend to believe. Enjoyed the various descriptions of the peoples that they came across.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Dreamsmith on 14-06-2013

You'll never get bored!

I'm a devoted fan of non-fiction (both audiobooks and paper editions). This is a classic that is beautifully-written and full of interesting stories, keen and insightful observations, vivid and excellent descriptions. The narrator, Barnaby Edwards, is especially commendable. Unlike many other narrators who read non-fiction like boring newsreaders, Barnaby narrates the The Voyage of the Beagle exactly the way it should be narrated! Listening to his narration, you feel he is not reading but rather telling you the story face-to-face. I think he will do an equally great job if he reads (he really should!) The Origin of Species and other classics by the same author. Thank you, Barnaby, for having done such a great job!

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12 of 12 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By D. Jackson on 29-01-2014

A rip roaring historical tale that enthrals

What did you like best about this story?

This really brings Darwin alive. Through his own words, we discover that he's not an ancient Victorian coot in a beard, but was an intelligent and adventurous young man who recounts his scientific and real adventures in a cool and calm manner, interspacing interesting accounts of life in South America with cool descriptions of the fauna and flora he encountered.

What does Barnaby Edwards bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

He brings it.... alive

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

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