The Book That ChangedAmerica: How Darwin’s Theory ovaoiution Ignited a Nation, written by Randall Fuller, is a book about a book; it tells the story of a particular copy of Darwin’s On The Origin ofSpeeies by Means ofNaturai Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life which exchanged hands between several owners who all became invested in the Abolition movement. The line of ownership begins with Asa Gray, who is considered to be one of the most influential Botanists in the 19th century It was then heavily annotated and sent to Charles Loring Brace, a philanthropist, who introduced the copy to Franklin Sanborn, Bronson Alcott, and Henry David Thoreau Fuller uses a lot of conflict in his book, describing the schism between Abolitionists and Pro-Slavery; North and South; Religion and Science.
Conflict is a major theme; and ironically 507 as much of Darwin‘s original publication has to do about how species adapt to conflict of one kind or another, Randall Fuller is a distinguished professor of American Literature at the University of Kansas, After viewing some interviews about his book, it seems like a topic he could talk on for hours about; not to say that he is necessarily an expert in the field, but I feel that he‘s qualified to make assertions and deserves a degree of credibility to his work simply for the fact of how passionate and knowledgeable he seems when talking about it, I trust the conclusions he came to as they all seem to come together to tell a convincing story All in all, the book makes a great narrative about the story of this particular copy of Darwin’s.
The Origin ofSpecies; while it doesn’t have citations, the author includes sentences such as “But two of the guests considered the conversation significant enough to record, and both accounts agree the that eventually the discussion turned to books. (Fuller, 27)” Thus indicating where some of the evidence for these narratives comes from while also noting ambiguity so as to not falsely state claims or facts That being said, this book lacks elegant descriptions and similes or metaphors of other biographies; it’s a much more rudimentary, straight to the point kind of writing style I think the best analogy would be calling it a textbook written with historical context and from an “in-universe,” present tense, narrated perspective as opposed to one looking back on past events with facts and statistics It‘s a much more broad and down to earth take on retelling history.
The book also does a good job of including some popular culture, making the reader much more immersed about the new world going on around them. The author uses passages such as “Eighteen-fifty-nine had been an especially good year for books. From England, Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities, serialized weekly in the author’s new literary periodical, “ and “The city also housed two of the most influential periodicals in the country, the Atlantic Monthly and the North American Review” The author includes these passages to help give the reader much needed context and background information; it only furthers the world being built around them As such, it fulfills a lot of the world building aspect much more than a textbook ever could; like I said earlier, it lacks elegant description and colorful narratives for the sake of painting pictures in your mind, but it still gives you scenes to imagine and context to build off of. I would recommend this book to anybody looking to learn more about a number of topics — Darwninism, the anti-slavery movement, background on important figures like Henry David.
Thoreau— this book doesn’tjust meet one category, it contains a number of themes and topics in it which the reader can learn about. Fuller helps paint a picture of America just before the Civil War, explains a lot of the culture behind the Abolitionist and anti-slavery movements, and just in general does a really good job of making history pop off the page while trying to keep his narrative more contained in a scholarly and educational light I feel like this book is a good alternate way to learn about history, and in a way helped me learn things I might’ve never learned otherwise.