In Darwin's Shadow: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace: A Biographical Study on the Psychology of History

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, Aug 15, 2002 - Science - 448 pages
1 Review
Virtually unknown today, Alfred Russel Wallace was the co-discoverer of natural selection with Charles Darwin and an eminent scientist who stood out among his Victorian peers as a man of formidable mind and equally outsized personality. Now Michael Shermer rescues Wallace from the shadow of Darwin in this landmark biography. Here we see Wallace as perhaps the greatest naturalist of his age--spending years in remote jungles, collecting astounding quantities of specimens, writing thoughtfully and with bemused detachment at his reception in places where no white man had ever gone. Here, too, is his supple and forceful intelligence at work, grappling with such arcane problems as the bright coloration of caterpillars, or shaping his 1858 paper on natural selection that prompted Darwin to publish (with Wallace) the first paper outlining the theory of evolution. Shermer also shows that Wallace's self-trained intellect, while powerful, also embraced surprisingly naive ideas, such as his deep interest in the study of spiritual manifestations and seances. Shermer shows that the same iconoclastic outlook that led him to overturn scientific orthodoxy as he worked in relative isolation also led him to embrace irrational beliefs, and thus tarnish his reputation. As author of Why People Believe Weird Things and founding publisher of Skeptic magazine, Shermer is an authority on why people embrace the irrational. Now he turns his keen judgment and incisive analysis to Wallace's life and his contradictory beliefs, restoring a leading figure in the rise of modern science to his rightful place.

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - quantum_flapdoodle - LibraryThing

This autobiography of Alfred Russell Wallace spends a great deal of time on the arrangement that was set up in 1858 by friends of Charles Darwin to retain Darwin's priority in the face of Wallace's ... Read full review

IN DARWIN'S SHADOW: The Life and Science of Alfred Russel Wallace

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A scholarly appraisal of the curious life and work of the naturalist who, some insist, was the true father of the theory of evolution.Against them, Shermer, the founder and editor of Skeptic magazine ... Read full review


Prologue The Psychology of Biography
1 Uncertain Beginnings
2 The Evolution of a Naturalist
3 Breaching the Walls of the Species Citadel
4 The Mystery of Mysteries Solved
5 A Gentlemanly Arrangement
6 Scientific Heresy and Ideological Murder
7 A Scientist Among the Spiritualists
10 Heretic Personality
11 The Last Great Victorian
12 The Life of Wallace and the Nature of History
Epilogue Psychobiography and the Science of History
Wallace Archival Sources
Wallaces Published Works

8 Heretical Thoughts
9 Heretical Culture

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (2002)

Michael Shermer is founding publisher and editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine, and is director of the Skeptics Society. He has authored several popular books on science, including Why People Believe Weird Things, How We Believe, Denying History: Who Says the Holocaust Never Happened and Why Do they Say It? and Borderlands of Science (OUP). He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Bibliographic information