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What was the study of nature like before Darwin? It was an integral part of the Enlightenment and was avidly pursued by early Americans such as Thomas Jefferson and the portrait artist Charles Willson Peale, who created the most famous museum of the Revolutionary era. Lee Dugatkin is both an historical scholar of the period and an eminent evolutionary scientist. His newest book on Peale’s museum, Behind the Crimson Curtain: The Rise and Fall of Peale’s Museum, helps to situate “this view of life” against the background of centuries of intellectual thought.


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