This Thing of Darkness

This Thing of Darkness Brilliant Young Naval Officer Robert FitzRoy Is Given The Captaincy Of HMS Beagle, Surveying The Wilds Of Tierra Del Fuego, Aged Just Twenty Three He Takes A Passenger A Young Trainee Cleric And Amateur Geologist Named Charles Darwin This Is The Story Of A Deep Friendship Between Two Men, And The Twin Obsessions That Tore It Apart, Leading One To Triumph And The Other To Disaster

Harry William Thompson was an English radio and television producer, comedy writer, novelist and biographer Early in his career Thompson produced the radio comedy programmes The News Quiz and The Mary Whitehouse Experience Following his move into television, he produced Newman and Baddiel in Pieces, Harry Enfield and Chums and Monkey Dust, and co produced Never Mind The Buzzcocks In 1998 he was

➷ This Thing of Darkness Free ➭ Author Harry Thompson –
  • Paperback
  • 626 pages
  • This Thing of Darkness
  • Harry Thompson
  • English
  • 09 October 2018
  • 9780755327140

10 thoughts on “This Thing of Darkness

  1. says:

    This Thing of Darkness tells the story of Robert FitzRoy, brilliant naval man, father of meteorology and friend of Charles Darwin.This is technically a fictional account of his life, but it really is a novel written around factual sources from FitzRoy s logs, Darwin s writings and other historical data Thompson has written a magnificent character piece around this historical data.Thompson goes on to write an afterword that outlines exactly how little he embellished the story, in most instances only inventing the dialogue, and highlights a very few scenes which were entirely fabricated.The one aspect that stood out was the quality of the dialogue Each conversation was interesting and insightful It was at times quite hilarious For a book about the tragic life of FitzRoy, there are some great laughs And we all know how hard it is to write comedy in a novel There is a wonderful scene with the Beagle s surgeon and a parrot that will make you laugh out loud.This wonderful book kept me occupied during the holiday period It was a shame it had to end It really did tick all the boxes for a perfect novel Lots of science, learning, history, comedy, tragedy and all told with a lot of heart It is truly deserving of the highest marks I could give and would make it into my selected top 10 reads of all time This is a book recommended to everyone, especially those who would like to know about Darwin and FitzRoy without wading into dull history books.

  2. says:

    not a spoiler a synopsis I don t care what Anyone says about this book it was phenomenal I read someone s take on the book, noting negatively that Charles Darwin doesn t put in an appearance until late in the book, but that s because this book is NOT about Charles Darwin, but rather about Robert FitzRoy, the commander of the HMS Beagle, who took on Charles Darwin as a naturalist and companion Obviously, it has to deal with Darwin, but the true story is that of FitzRoy s The book begins with a somewhat depressing event, but one which literally laid the foundation for what was to come the suicide of one Captain Stokes, who commanded the HMS Beagle, after being marooned at the literal ends of the earth in the desolation of Patagonia Had it not been for that event, the HMS Beagle may have been consigned to the list of past British Naval ships, and Darwin s Origin of Species may never have been written But because of Stokes suicide, Robert FitzRoy, a 23 year old British naval officer, was assigned to command the Beagle, and the rest, they say, is history.This Thing of Darkness is not only a look at the events that transpired aboard the Beagle, pre and post Darwin, but at the evils of imperialism, religion, and racism all encapsulated into the time period between 1828 and 1865 It also examines the career of FitzRoy, whose main mission on the Beagle was to survey the lower areas of the South American Coast, as well as his inner self We learn a lot about FitzRoy even before the author brings in Charles Darwin, and then of course, the book focuses on the friendship between the two At first, the two were boon companions Darwin, as most people know, was studying to become a cleric at the time set off on the Beagle, and his outlook corresponded well with that of Fitzroy s regarding God s creation, the biblical flood, etc However, as Darwin explored throughout South America, the evidence of the truth behind geological processes, fossil remains, variation and separation of species etc began to make its way into creating Darwin s theories, it caused a major rift between FitzRoy and Darwin, one that would continue throughout both of their lives, as Darwin s reality conflicted with that of FitzRoy.Yet, as I noted, this book is not based solely on Charles Darwin, but takes of a look at Fitzroy and how he was caught up both personally and professionally by policies politics over which he had no control At one point after having to perform a personally dishonorable task for the British government in Tahiti, FitzRoy remarks, I was brought up to obey ordersTo do my duty But increasingly I am being given orders that do not tally with natural justice with God s justice Orders that I cannot in all conscience accord with These people should be helped to found a decent, God fearing society not plundered, as if the Royal Navy were little better than pirates 414 When he has the opportunities to make changes, they are unwelcome and lead to a slide in his career that would never be rectified I cannot do this book justice in only a few words, but I VERY HIGHLY recommend this novel Every one of its 610 pages is riveting and I could not put this book down and did so only grudgingly I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in the topic of the effects of British Imperialism, exploration, Darwin and his theories, and British History It is superb and considering some of the books that made the Booker shortlist, I think the author was robbed.

  3. says:

    Just finished this book and was so moved I went straight to Wiki to find out about all the characters When I first took up the book I thought, oh dear, first novel and a biggie at that, hope he doesn t ramble However, every page was necessary to weave this extraordinary story The prose was just beautiful reminded me of Star of the Sea.Such a tragedy that Thompson died the year of its publication at the early age of 45 His first and only novel I would have looked forward to reading much .

  4. says:

    Though I am not part of a nation that ever succeeded in forming an empire, and which, historically, has been a victim often than an oppressor, I am nevertheless a citizen of modern Europe and reaping the benefits of Western, Christian rooted civilisation as well as the privileges my skin colour offers I mention this because as I read Thompson s book, the overwhelming and recurring emotions were embarrassment and dismay at the destruction white man has brought upon nations of a darker skin in the name of progress The ill treatment of the Irish and other white yet not quite British peoples nonwithstanding, a white non white division is appropriate for this story, as skin colour seems to be the main criteria for distinguishing a civilised man from a savage in colonial exploration Or, indeed, a man from a beast.That is the sour, painful backdrop, and told in prose, it should leave even the historically aware reader heartbroken Against this, we have the well known figure of Charles Darwin whose presence in this book was the main appeal for me , but the true protagonist is William FitzRoy, an officer of the Royal Navy and the father of meteorology a remarkable man, and a scientist in his own right Unappreciated as he was during his lifetime, he continues to be overshadowed by Darwin to this day, even though his discoveries were just as eminent, and I would hazard to say, a great deal practical than the famed theory of evolution.The book, as life did, puts these two ingenious men in the cramped hold of the Beagle for over five years Barely in their twenties at the onset of the voyage, they grow older and wiser together, and we readers are privy to their most intimate conversations They speak of science, and they speak of God, almost exclusively for those are the two forces which set their world in motion and give it meaning Their simultaneous existence is never disputed what may come as a surprise, perhaps, to followers of the modern day creationism vs evolution brouhaha but what brings the men to their final impasse is the interpretation of their application.The reader who would seek to condemn one man s vision and praise the other s will find himself at a loss FitzRoy and Darwin s scientific knowledge complement each other Both men are believers Both make astounding discoveries and come to brilliant conclusions Both, also, make terrible mistakes In building his theory, Darwin meanders, at once rising to heights of enlightenment, then again falling into the trap of racism and white supremacy Interestingly, it is not any scientific conclusion which causes him to doubt the existence of God, but a personal tragedy which he finds too enormous to bear FitzRoy, while rejecting sound proof and logic for the literal word of the Bible, nevertheless conducts scientific research, compiles precise charts, and develops a system of weather forecasting which saves thousands of lives His Christian devotion hinders him from embracing Darwin s theory, but it leads him, also, to reject his companion s disturbing conclusion of that theory that men are not created equal, that a superior race does exist, and it must, without any doubt, prevail Yet for all his sound moral standing, FitzRoy is a tool of the colonialist machine, and his convictions do not follow those of his superiors On than one occasion, he finds himself torn between duty and morality a torment from which Darwin is spared, being only a passenger on the ship At great personal cost and risk, FitzRoy leads a naive quest for civilisation his discovery that he has been used to carry forth nothing but disease and decay all but destroys him I recommend this book not only to anyone interested in the story of Darwin s discoveries and the British deeds and misdeeds in the Southern Hemisphere, but most especially to those who wish to explore the challenge which scientific fact poses to the Christian faith, and vice versa In this age of snappy slogans and snarky internet memes, it s healthy to remember that no one issue is ever as simple as a clever turn of phrase.

  5. says:

    If I could give it six, seven, eight stars I would.A whopper of a book but an absolutely amazing one It s Darwin and Robert FitzRoy s life story, immaculately well researched, beautifully written and absolutely on a par with the O Brian, Barrett and you know God.Very warmly recommended.

  6. says:

    When I finished reading this book, the first statement that made it through my mind was something said by Morgan Freeman s character Detective Somerset by the end of the movie Se7en Ernest Hemingway once wrote, The world is a fine place and worth fighting for I agree with the second part This book chronicles the adventure of Captain Robert FitzRoy and the crew of HMS Beagle, joined by Charles Darwin later on as the ship s naturalist cum village idiot, as they traversed the Atlantic to the dreary and unforgiving Patagonian coasts, wherein they found momentary insanity, 3 natives turned English gentlemen and gentlewoman, bolas wielding gauchos, the wonders and enigmas of nature, and the inevitable question of nature of God between moments of hope, human nature and death.This is an engaging and thought inducing read, with the occasional humor on the side, and I can say that not a page is a waste even in the isolated scenes not truly relevant to the plot I learned loads in reading this, not just historical facts, but nautical terms as well The lesson is free of interpretation, it just states the facts, as a good historical fiction should, although it is obvious that Christianity, at that particular time at least, and Charles Darwin are not depicted in a favorable light What is undeniable from this book is the greatness of Captain FitzRoy as a captain, scientist he s one of the pioneers of meteorology, making his insights practically valuable than that of Darwin s, I think , friend, and as a human being I am wistful however of the fact that view spoiler the friendship between him and Darwin was not ever repaired, his being driven to suicide because of the mediocrity of mind and good judgment by those who are many in the government, by his undeserving obscurity which is still until now and ridicule in the light of Charles Darwin s eminence, but, most especially, that hide spoiler

  7. says:

    Story about the voyage of the Beagle its captain Fitzroy and its naturalist Charles Darwin.This is Thompson s first novel and last he died of cancer shortly after publication after non fiction travel books and a biography of Peter Cook.The story combined travelogue biographical detail Patrick O Brien type epic seafaring adventure which I found hard to follow and uninteresting and philosophical debates Latter is particularly and explicitly around Evolution but also about Race and its interaction with survival of the fittest even Darwin s early thoughts foresee the role of Survival Colonialism culture Fitzroy s attempts to civilise natives by bringing them to England ends up as a failure At one point the to be first united Argentinean president justifies his attack on the native races by using Tony Blair s justification for the war on terror Colonialism and evangelism many of the missionaries seem to equate Christianity with being English Good evil and why a loving God permits them Progress versus tradition Fitzroy clearly struggles both with the industrialisation and conformity of modern England as well as with the new scientific scepticism Politics Fitzroy a Tory and Darwin a Whig argue about the morality or otherwise of tied farm labourers against the shop system in industry as well as the workhouse system In addition Fitzroy s career is heavily bound with politics even before he becomes an MP Science as well as debates over geology and evolution, there is storm formation and weather forecasting.The book is really a biography masked as and using the freedom of fiction The last few pages make it clear how little of the story is actually fiction A very engrossing read and one which in the 15 year history of a Book Group I belong to was easily the most universally acclaimed discovery.

  8. says:

    Loved it, loved it, loved it This is by far my all time favorite book It s a 10 for sure It s very accurate and well researched account of Captain Robert Fitzroy and his voyage mapping out the South American coast, on the HMS Beagle After finding natives he returns to England with them in an effort to civilize them About a year later, he makes a second voyage returning them believing they can in turn civilize their own, with tragic results It s on this second trip he commissions a young and budding naturalist, Charles Darwin and on this voyage and adventure, Darwin has profound insights into his theory of evolution They come back home and Darwin is a star, Fitzroy falling into his shadow getting little or no credit even though he was a major contributor and collaborator A sad and heartfelt portrait on the brilliant personage of Fitzroy and his many talents I didn t like Darwin very much in this story I didn t want this book to end and when it did, it left me utterly moved and sorrowful Thought about it for days on end It s how books should be and I learned much from it too It is on my to re read list The author, Harry Thompson, passed away shortly after completing this book, which was a double whammy to the emotions I was going through after reading the book.

  9. says:

    Absolutely brilliant totally captivating, couldn t put it down There are so many wonderful aspects to this book the scene setting of the period it s set in, the moral and religious issues covered, learning about Darwin and Fitzroy and just the incredible story told I am fascinated by these clever Victorians who were ahead of their time and pushed the boundaries like no others and faced ridicule from the general public But at the same time quite disgusted and saddened by the thinking of the time towards the indigenous people of these new territories and the arrogance of the missionaries and people in charge This book brings all of the above to life I have learnt so much that I otherwise wouldn t have sought out to read There is apparently a place for some historical fiction in my life, but it has to be extremely special

  10. says:

    I really enjoyed this book much to my surprise About Captain Robert Fitzroy, a man plagued by what would be called today Bipolor disorder commisioned by the government to navigate and map South America and Tierra del Fuego, He takes along a young naturalist one Charles Darwin They are on completely opposite sides of an argument Fitzroy being a commited christian believing that every human and creature on earth has been created by the grace of God, an argument still under discussion by some today full of rich descriptions of places and creatures Fitzroy and Darwin became bitter enemies and Fitzroy was much maligned He was however an exceptional man spending the later part of his life introducing a system of weather warnings and forcasts But largely forgotten, while Darwin as we know has gone down in history This is really a facsinating story and certainly worth reading I thought it would be dull and boring but proved to be anything but

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