Darwin's Backyard

How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory

James T. Costa (Author)

Overview | Formats

Darwin’s Backyard goes beyond the portrait of Charles Darwin as a brilliant thinker to concentrate on him as a nimble experimenter delving into some of evolution’s great mysteries.

Darwin’s Backyard reveals the humble “experimentising” that the brilliant thinker and scientist Charles Darwin harnessed to delve into the mysteries of evolution. Using his garden, greenhouse, neighboring woodlands, and even the halls and rooms of his home-turned-field-station, Darwin tested out ideas of his theory of evolution with an astonishing array of hands-on experiments, many with the help of his family, friends, and correspondents. James T. Costa, an “experimentiser” himself, provides “in one outstanding aspect of the book” (Science News) directions for eighteen experiments to do in your home, school, yard, or garden.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • Forthcoming September 2018
  • ISBN 978-0-393-35630-4
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 464 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Other Formats

  1. Book CoverDarwin's Backyard: How Small Experiments Led to a Big Theory


Endorsements & Reviews

“[Costa] has done something very important with this new book: He has brought Darwin fully to life. . . . 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.” — Christopher Kemp, Science

“Entertaining.” — David Dobbs, New York Times Book Review

“A passionate but balanced celebration of [Darwin’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.” — Henry Nicholls, Nature

“Readers will enjoy the tales Costa tells and the experience of re-creating some of the famous naturalist’s most enlightening work.” — Sid Perkins, Science News

“So much more than a biography. . . . [Darwin's Backyard] is accessible and fun.” — Booklist (starred review)

“[Darwin's Backyard] takes readers on a journey . . . revealing how [Darwin] found universal evolutionary truths in simple yet ingenious homespun experiments.” — Publishers Weekly

“An unusual look at the daily creative life of a great scientist, with opportunities to dig in and observe the workings of nature first hand using methods very similar to his own.” — Shelf Awareness

“The immense library available on Darwin’s life and contributions may seem exhaustive. James T. Costa, writing only as a modern naturalist of the first rank can, shows us how drastically wrong that perception has been. 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, author of Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life