The Darwin Conspiracy
By John Darnton
Thorndike Large Print (2005), 576 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - February 19, 2010
It is a delight to read a book, even if it is fiction, when it challenges accepted ideas in an intelligent manner. Darnton did deep research into the life of Charles Darwin and has identified the questions that surround his life, his strange behavior and controversial theory of evolution. What happened to Darwin on his famous trip on the Beagle? Why did Darwin wait twenty-two years after his trip before he published his theory and then rush suddenly to publish it? What specifically did he discover during the Beagle journey? Did someone discover it before him? Were his illnesses the result of psychosomatic feelings of guilt? If so, what was he hiding?
Darnton weaves a three part tale into a suspenseful drama that answers these and other questions about the famous scientist. There is Darwin's own report, a fictitious tale of his daughter trying to understand his curious and inexplicable behavior, and a fictitious modern anthropologist and a Darwin expert who are similarly intrigued.
Darnton uncovers a conspiracy involving Darwin and some friends that answer all the questions that scholars have been asking about the scientist. The conspiracy theory is based on the true views of some but not all reputable modern scientists. Whether readers agree with Darnton or not, they will enjoy the novel as an excellent fictional work and they will come to have a clearer understanding of some of the problems surrounding Darwin's bizarre life and his theory of evolution, as well as more insight into the theory.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.