The Remarkable Life of William Beebe

From a review by Cornelia Dean of The Remarkable Life of William Beebe, Explorer and Naturalist, by Carol Grant Gould, in the New York Times:

At a time when it was necessary to do something celebrated to be a celebrity, William Beebe was as famous as Lindbergh.

By the 1920’s, his zoological exploits in Indonesia, China and Latin America had brought him international acclaim. His books, two dozen of them, were big best sellers. Millions gathered at their radios in 1932 to hear his live broadcast from a bathysphere on the ocean bottom off Bermuda. He even made an offstage appearance in the play “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” (He sends its irascible protagonist an octopus.)

Today, though, hardly anyone has heard of him, and that is reason enough to be glad to see this new biography by Ms. Gould. But Beebe is also important because of his place in the history of science. Perhaps more than anyone else, he bridged the gap between the gentlemanly naturalists of the Victorian Age and the reductionist biology we know today.

More here.