Huxley: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest

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Addison-Wesley, 1994 - Science - 820 pages
T. H. Huxley (1825–1895) was Darwin’s bloody-fanged bulldog. His giant scything intellect shook a prim Victorian society; his “Devil’s gospel” of evolution outraged. He put “agnostic” into the vocabulary and cave men into the public consciousness. Adrian Desmond’s fiery biography with its panoramic view of Dickensian life explains how this agent provocateur rose to become the century’s greatest prophet.Synoptic in its sweep and evocative in its details, Desmond’s biography reveals the poverty and opium-hazed tragedies of young Tom Huxley’s life as well as the accolades and triumphs of his later years. The drug-grinder’s apprentice knew sots and scandals and breakdowns that signaled a genius close to madness. As surgeon’s mate on the cockroach-infested frigate Rattlesnake, he descended into hell on the Barrier Reef, but was saved by a golden-haired girl in the penal colony.Huxley pulled himself up to fight Darwin’s battles in the 1860s, but left Darwin behind on the most inflammatory issues. He devasted angst-ridden Victorian society with his talk of ape ancestors, and tantalized and tormented thousands-from laborers to ladies of society, cardinals to Karl Marx—with his scintillating lectures. Out of his provocations came our image of science warring with theology. And out of them, too, came the West’s new faith-agnosticism (he coined the new word).Champion of modern education, creator of an intellectually dominant profession, and president of the Royal Society, in Desmond’s hands Huxley epitomizes the rise of the middle classes as the clawed power from the Anglican elite. His modern godless universe, intriguing and terrifying, millions of years in the making, was explored in his laboratory at South Kensington; his last pupil, H. G. Wells, made it the foundation of twentieth-century science fiction.Touching the crowning achievements and the crushing depths of both the man and his times, this is the epic story of a courageous genius whose life summed up the social changes from the Victorian to the modern age. Written with enormous zest and passion, Huxley is about the making of our modern Darwinian world.

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HUXLEY: From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest

User Review  - Kirkus

A whopping life of Thomas Huxley (182595), who did much to bring Victorian-era science to a lay audience. History has tended to remember Huxley as a stalking horse for Charles Darwin, a man who ... Read full review

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User Review  - jfetting - LibraryThing

This is a thorough biography of the life of one of the most important scientists of the 19th century (in fact, the man who first used the term "scientist" to describe a profession). It was Huxley ... Read full review

Contents

Philosophy Can Bake No Bread
3
Son of the Scalpel
18
The Surgeons Mate
36
Copyright

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About the author (1994)

Adrian Desmond is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Biology Department at University College London. He has written numerous books on evolution and Victorian science.

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