Sunday, March 22, 2009

Recommended Reading: Adam Gopnik's Take on Lincoln and Darwin

Perceptive readers will know that February 12, 2009—just about a month ago—was the 200th birthday of two important men, Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin.

The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik has used this coincidence to write a book about the enduring significant of both men on modern life. Angels and Ages: A Short Book about Darwin, Lincoln, and Modern Life (Knopf) is a double portrait of these men and the challenges of their lives.

We haven't read Gopnik's book (so many books, so little time…) but the reviewers promise a worthwhile experience. Reviewer Alison Hood, writing in BookPage (we picked it up at the Tulsa City-County Library), writes that the book is "a finely considered, thought-provoking examination of their lives, their visions and the influence of their literary eloquence…."

Another reviewer, John Timpane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, continues the praise:
Angels and Ages makes a persuasive case that our liberal, bourgeois lives, resting on reason, law, and the primacy of science, rest also on Darwin and Lincoln….it is...powerful [and] emotional…covering breathtaking acreage with trenchant flair.
On the bicentennial of the birth of Lincoln and Darwin, Gopnik's thesis sounds intriguing and worth some serious contemplation. We're planning on getting to it later this year.

Meanwhile, if you have comments on Gopnik's book, let us know in the comments section.

1 comment:

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