Of Moths and Men

An Evolutionary Tale: The Untold Story of Science and the Peppered Moth

Judith Hooper (Author)

Overview | Inside the Book

"An engrossing narrative" (Wall Street Journal) that does for evolutionary biology what The Double Helix did for DNA.

In the 1950s, a British physician and amateur lepidopterist named H. B. D. Kettlewell went into the English woods to catch "evolution in action" among the now-famous Peppered Moths. His work became "Darwin's missing evidence," an evolutionary experiment as influential as any in the last century. Compellingly told, Of Moths and Men reveals Kettlewell to be a deluded scientist, a man tyrannized by his mentor, the powerful E. B. Ford, an imperious, eccentric Oxford don, a Darwinian zealot determined to crush all enemies in his path. In a revelatory, controversial work that will be debated for years to come, Judith Hooper uncovers the intellectual rivalries, petty jealousies, and faulty science behind one of the most famous experiments—and myths—in the history of evolutionary biology. Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • January 2004
  • ISBN 978-0-393-32525-6
  • 6.1 × 8.3 in / 400 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide including Canada, but excluding the British Commonwealth.

Endorsements & Reviews

“An extraordinary, even-handed, highly entertaining and scrupulously researched book.” — Times Literary Supplement

“Hooper shows...gentleness and respect, creating a moving and compassionate portrait.” — New York Times Book Review

“A riotous story of ambition and deceit....demonstrates delightfully how the theory of evolution evolved.” — Dava Sobel

“A fascinating account a story of hard work, brilliant insights, and human foibles.” — Ernst Mayr, Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology, Emeritus, at Harvard University

“[A] timely and intriguing tale.” — Sunday Times [London]

“[Hooper] tells her story with sensitivity and grace...[a] skillful synthesis of scientific and human detail.” — Evening Standard

“[C]onsiderable narrative gusto while painting vivid portaits of key players....the book is never dull.” — Scotland on Sunday

“A mesmerising book....I have no doubt it will be a classic.” — Frank Ryan, author of The Forgotten Plague and Virus X

“A stunning revelation of evolutionary theory and practice. Hooper contributes significantly to the history of science scholarship.” — Lynn Margulis, Distinguished University Professor of Geoscience, University of Massachussetts

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