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: The Voyage of the Beagle
, first published in 1839, is Charles Darwin's journal of his experiences as a naturalist on a scientific data-gathering expedition that began in December of 1831, when Darwin was only 22, and ended in October of 1836. Traveling aboard the HMS Beagle
under the command of Captain Robert Fitzroy, the ship left England for South America and westward into the Pacific to the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, Australia, and New Zealand. Throughout the journey Darwin kept a detailed record of the flora and fauna, and collected a host of specimens for further study in England. Of note is that data gathered on the voyage would prove critical to his development of the theory of evolution. In this edited and abridged edition, Millicent Selsam has done a masterful job of culling some of the minutiae of the voyage (always indicating where editorial cuts were made), while retaining the important details and the warm feel of Darwin's account, making the book a joy to read. The text is further enhanced by Selsam's biographical sketch of the young Darwin, her introductions to each chapter, and the maps and line drawings of artist Anthony Ravielli.