Review by Erin Wayman
Swiss-born Louis Agassiz was the most famous naturalist in America in the mid-19th century. When he died in 1873, people across the United States mourned the loss of their favorite scientist.
Today, Agassiz is largely forgotten outside academia. After reading his biography, it’s not hard to understand why people may have wanted to forget him. Agassiz was something of a scoundrel — an arrogant idea stealer who left his family when he immigrated to North America. He also rejected Darwin’s theory of natural selection, instead believing in the fixity of species created by God.
Yet Agassiz had his saving graces and deserves to be remembered, argues Irmscher, an English professor. Agassiz spent much of his career as a Harvard professor studying marine fossils. He encouraged people to send him specimens, igniting a national interest in natural history. While studying