The Wonderful Century: Its Successes and Failures (Google eBook)

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Cosimo, Inc., Apr 1, 2007 - History - 460 pages
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The Wonderful Century, originally published in 1898, is a unique book, offering a retrospective of the grand scope of the 19th century. In it, British biologist and explorer ALFRED RUSSEL WALLACE (1823-1913) discusses what he considers the successes of the last hundred years, including advances made in modes of travel, mechanization, photography, the analysis of light, physics, the study of dust, chemistry, astronomy, glaciers, geology, evolution, and medicine. He also covers those areas of study that have not been advanced as much as he believes they should have been. Among the curious topics in the "Failure" section of the book are phrenology, hypnotism, and the fallacy of vaccination. It will be amusing to modern readers that many of the areas that Wallace thought needed to be elucidated better in the future have since been proven false. History buffs as well as readers wishing to be entertained by the skewed views of the past will find this book a joyous and engaging read.
  

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Contents

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Page 12 - Work - work work Till the brain begins to swim! Work - work - work Till the eyes are heavy and dim! Seam , and gusset , and band , Band , and gusset , and seam , Till over the buttons I fall asleep, And sew them on in a dream! "O men with sisters dear! O men with mothers and wives! It is not linen you're wearing out , But human creatures
Page 24 - Put out the light, and then put out the light. If I quench thee, thou flaming minister, I can again thy former light restore, Should I repent me: but once put out thy light, Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature, I know not where is that Promethean heat That can thy light relume.

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About the author (2007)

Born in Usk, Wales, Alfred Wallace had a very limited education, yet he became a noted naturalist and independently developed the theory of evolution, which is most commonly associated with the name of Charles Darwin. Wallace's formal education was completed with his graduation from grammar school at the age of 14. Having developed an interest in natural history, he avidly pursued this study during his years as a teacher in Leicester, England. In 1848 Wallace went to Brazil to study animals of the Amazon. Returning to England in 1853, he departed a year later on an expedition to the East Indies, where he remained for nine years. It was during this time that he developed his theory of evolution, essentially the same theory of natural selection and survival of the fittest that Darwin had developed and had been painstakingly perfecting before making his views known. Wallace sent his paper setting forth his theory to Darwin, who recognized that his and Wallace's theories were the same. The theory was presented in a joint paper before the Linnaean Society, an organization of scientists, in London in 1858. With Wallace's agreement, Darwin was given the major credit for developing the theory because of the wide-ranging body of evidence that he had amassed in support of it.

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