Victorian Sensation: The Extraordinary Publication, Reception, and Secret Authorship of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation by James A. Secord
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
James Secord is without a doubt the leading expert of all time on Robert Chambers's "The Vestiges of Creation"
Secord tells us why Chambers' book was so successful, why it was criticized and why its author remained anonymous until after his death.
I recommend this book to anyone wanting to understand a major part of the story about why "evolution was in the air" in the first half of the 19th century.
But in writing this superb and brilliantly scholarly story, Secord failed to see the most important connection between Chambers and Darwin. Because, not only did Darwin meet Chambers, not only did they correspond and not only did Darwin know Chambers was the secret author of "Vestiges" - Chambers had - in 1832 - over a decade before he penned the "Vestiges" actually read and cited Patrick Matthew's 1831 book that contained the full theory of natural selection. It seems more likely than not, therefore, that some form of 'knowledge contamination' of Matthew's discovery took place between Matthew and Chambers and then from Chambers to Darwin. So much now for the self-serving Darwinist myth - started by Darwin - that Matthew's book failed to influence anyone!
If Secord had discovered this crucial fact about Matthew and Chambers then HIS book would have been an international sensation - because according to Darwin no naturalist known to him had read Matthew's book until 1860 - the year after Darwin's Origin was first published. Darwin lied!
Hopefully, we will see a second edition of Secord's excellent book now that Darwin's cat is out the bag. Before then, however, Professor Secord will need to come up to speed with the New Data by reading Nullius in Verba - Darwin's Greatest Secret
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