Darwin: Portrait of a Genius

Paul Johnson

Acclaimed historian and biographer Paul Johnson turns his keen eye on Charles Darwin, the towering figure whose work continues to spur scientific debate.

With his publication of On the Origin of Species, Darwin forever changed our concept of the world. While Johnson praises Darwin’s extraordinary skills as a natural scientist and his monumental achievements, he does not sidestep Darwin’s tragic failures as an anthropologist. Johnson argues that by applying his theory of natural selection to humans, Darwin provided a platform for the burgeoning eugenics movement. Lay readers and academics alike will enjoy this concise and unflinching exploration of Charles Darwin, a genius whose discoveries—even the flawed ones—add significant dimension to our understanding of his mind, the era in which he lived, and his everlasting impact on our world.


Riveting … The ‘genius’ of Paul Johnson’s biography of Charles Darwin is manifestly, impressively apparent [in his discussion of] On the Origin of Species.

Wall Street Journal

Excellent and courageous.

Michael Flannery, author of Alfred Russel Wallace

This little sketch reminds us why Darwin’s theory of natural selection endures and continues to provoke controversy.

Publishers Weekly

This is a first-rate biography, one that brings Darwin and his ideas into brilliant focus.

History Book Club

Characteristically pithy and incisive, the ever-popular Johnson offers a Darwin who will be much in demand.