Books: Debt Discharged

DARWIN AND THE MYSTERIOUS MR. X by Loren Eiseley

Dutton; 278 pages; $12.95

How did Charles Darwin arrive at his epochmaking theory of evolution? Tradition has it that he first got the idea while returning to England aboard the Beagle, refined his thinking in his study in Kent, and then elucidated it in the works he began publishing in 1859. But did Darwin reach this intellectual, not to say biological, milestone on his own?

Not according to Loren Eiseley. For decades prior to his death in 1977, the distinguished anthropologist and writer (The Immense Journey) tried to trace the origins of the ideas...

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