James T. Costa takes readers on a journey from Charles Darwin’s youth and travels on the HMS Beagle to Down House, his bustling home of forty years. To test his insights into evolution, Darwin devised experiments using his garden and greenhouse, the surrounding land and his home-turned-field-station. His experiments yielded universal truths about nature and evidence for his revolutionary arguments in On the Origin of Species and other watershed works. We accompany Darwin in his myriad pursuits against the backdrop of his enduring marriage, chronic illness, grief at the loss of three children and joy in scientific revelation. At each chapter’s end, Costa shows how we can investigate the wonders of nature, with directions on how to re-create Darwin’s experiments.
“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
“Darwin’s Backyard drives home how science is a cumulative, constantly evolving endeavour. All of this makes Darwin’s experimental world a wonderful teaching tool. … Fortunately, each chapter closes with Darwin-inspired experiments to try at home. 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