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Fred Bortz
Anthony Smith
Jonathan Spencer Jones

John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin


Robert Fitzroy is known as the captain of the HMS Beagle on the voyage which started Charles Darwin's development of the theory of evolution. Apart from that, all that we generally hear about Fitzroy is that he committed suicide (with the implication that this was to do with Darwin's ideas). In Fitzroy John and Mary Gribbin tell us about the Beagle voyage, but also look at the rest of his life, showing that he was in fact much more than just 'Darwin's Captain'. This is the story of Fitzroy the original thinker, who didn't fit in well with the bureaucracy of the time.

Hence we find how, on a voyage, Fitzroy would finance something out of his own pocket, with the hope that he would be recompensed when its necessity became clear. Unfortunately he often wasn't and so had financial problems for much of his life. We hear about his governership of New Zealand, where he tried to protect the Maori rights against the landgrabbing of the new settlers, but with woefully insufficient resources. We also find that he instituted weather forecasts at the Met. Office, again struggling with officialdom. Often the wisdom of his ideas would only be recognised much later, so his successors got the glory. Fitzroy did much of note which tends to be eclipsed by the Darwin connection, and this well written book does an excellent job of making his achievements more visible. info
Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 0300103611
Salesrank: 2356148
Published: 2004 Yale University Press
Amazon price $78.78
Marketplace:New from $36.45:Used from $2.49
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Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 0755311817
Salesrank: 539785
Weight:1.46 lbs
Published: 2003 Headline Review
Marketplace::Used from £3.77
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Hardcover 352 pages  
ISBN: 0300103611
Salesrank: 1489713
Weight:1.45 lbs
Published: 2004 Yale University Press
Marketplace:New from CDN$ 78.46:Used from CDN$ 7.31
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Product Description

The name of Robert FitzRoy, captain of the Beagle, is forever linked with that of his most famous passenger, Charles Darwin. This exceptionally interesting biography brings FitzRoy out of Darwin’s shadow for the first time, revealing a man who experienced high adventure, suffered tragic disappointments, and—as the inventor of weather forecasting—saved the lives of countless fellow mariners.
John Gribbin and Mary Gribbin draw a detailed portrait of FitzRoy, recounting the wide range of his accomplishments and exploring the motivations that drove him. As a very young and successful commander in the British navy, FitzRoy’s life was in the mold of a Patrick O’Brian novel. Later disappointments, including an unpopular tenure as governor of New Zealand and a sense of dismay over his own contributions to Darwin’s ideas of evolution, troubled FitzRoy. Even his groundbreaking accomplishments in meteorological science failed to satisfy his high personal expectations, and in 1865 FitzRoy committed suicide at the age of sixty. This biography focuses well-deserved attention on FitzRoy’s status as a scientist and seaman, affirming that his was a life which, despite its sorrowful end, encompassed many more successes than failures.