CultureBooks & Media

Required Reading

Darwin Slept Here
By Eric Simons
(OVERLOOK, $24)
February marks the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin and, naturally, the publication of a slew of new books about him. But while most—like the fine, brainy Banquet at Delmonico's, by Barry Werth—portray the naturalist as an earnest, white-bearded thinker, journalist Eric Simons celebrates a refreshingly different Darwin: a twenty-something traveler fond of hurling iguanas into the sea and charging up any tall peak he could find. With copies of The Voyage of the Beagle and Darwin's diaries in hand, Simons headed for South America, retracing parts of his famous 1831 trip and doing what Darwin did when he wasn't studying finches: riding with Argentinian gauchos, hunting rheas, and ogling señoritas. "There's a danger in labeling someone a genius; it makes them inaccessible," Simons writes. "But Darwin the person—well, he was a lot like us."

Murderers in Mausoleums
By Jeffrey Tayler
(HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT, $24)
"The new Great Game that began with the collapse of the Soviet Union has ended, and victory has gone to the home teams. The West is out," writes Jeffrey Tayler in Murderers in Mausoleums, his chronicle of a 7,200-mile journey from Red Square to Tiananmen Square. The Atlantic's Moscow correspondent set out to learn why Western-style reforms are on the ropes in this part of the world. But forget canned responses from officials. He collected opinions from comrades on the street, drink by drink: cognac in Dagestan, baijiu at the tomb of Genghis Khan, wine and Sprite with teenagers in Inner Mongolia. Tayler's insightful, often hilarious reporting tells Central Asia's story more directly than headlines ever could: A full wallet trumps democracy every time.

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.
Contribute to Outside
Filed To: Nature
More Culture