How Darwin found universal evolutionary truths in simple yet ingenious home-spun experiments. James T. Costa takes readers on a journey from Darwin's youth and travels on the HMS Beagle to Down House, his bustling home of forty years. To test his insights into evolution, Darwin devised an astonishing array of hands-on experiments using his garden and greenhouse, surrounding meadows and woodlands, even taking over the cellar, study, yard, and hallways of his home-turned-field-station. Darwin engaged his children, friends, and neighbors as assistants and encouraged fellow naturalists to follow his lead. His inventive experiments yielded universal truths about nature and evidence for his revolutionary arguments in On the Origin of Species and other watershed works. We accompany Darwin in his myriad pursuits against the backdrop of his enduring marriage, chronic illness, grief at the loss of three children, and joy in scientific revelation. At each chapter's end, Costa shows how we too can investigate the wonders of nature at work, with directions on how to re-create Darwin's experiments.60 line drawings
"...excellent Darwin's Backyard... James Costa has written an intimate and big-hearted book. In its pages, readers will discover the real Darwin, a complicated man behind a revolutionary theory." -- Science Lives "Darwin's Backyard, is a passionate but balanced celebration of the Victorian scientist's lifelong obsession with enquiry and how the fields and meadows around his home were a microcosm of the wider world... Costa more than achieves his stated goals of revealing the evolution of Darwin's insights and the relevance of his methods now." -- Nature "If you've ever fantasized walking and conversing with the great scientist on the subjects that consumed him, and now wish to add the fullness of reality, read this book." -- Edward O. Wilson
James T. Costa is a professor of biology at Western Carolina University, executive director of Highlands Biological Station, and a trustee of the Charles Darwin Trust. He lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.