R. S. Deese

Praise for We Are Amphibians: Julian and Aldous Huxley on the Future of Our Species


"This is a remarkably informed and engaging intellectual biography of two famous brothers who together formed the yin and yang of the modern evolutionary worldview. The Huxleys argued over the big, important issues, and R. S. Deese is an excellent guide to what they discovered as scientist and artist." —Donald Worster, author of A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir

"This magnificent book offers the reader an intellectual feast, exploring the thought of two great minds of the twentieth century as they sought to articulate a more humane vision of progress. From their contrasting—but also remarkably complementary—perspectives, the Huxley brothers grappled with fundamental questions of the modern era: the human place in nature, the role of evolution in shaping Homo sapiens (as well as the project of manipulating that evolutionary process through biotechnology), the ecological threats and cultural dehumanization brought on by industrial economies, the tension between state power and individual agency, the imperatives of political and cultural internationalism, the relation between scientific truth and religious truth, and humankind’s dual nature, suspended between the material and spiritual/symbolic realms. R. S. Deese lays out the thought of the Huxley brothers on these issues with a combination of deep scholarship, wide-ranging expertise, insightful analysis, and wonderful literary flair. This is a powerful and original book about vitally important topics—and what’s more, it is an absolute pleasure to read." —Michael Bess, Chancellor's Professor of History and Professor of European Studies at Vanderbilt University

“The importance and excitement of We Are Amphibians lies in its positive engagement with utopian visions. As R. S. Deese notes, these have been rendered impossible or completely suspect by much of both contemporary political theory and postmodern philosophy. The author also links this positive vision to a particularly acute contemporary problem: ecological crisis. This makes the work not only refreshing but also eminently relevant and timely.” —Jeffrey J. Kripal, J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University

We Are Amphibians contains fresh and brilliant insights into the role the Huxley brothers played in the development of our thinking about environmentalism, social planning, and religion in the twentieth century. As someone who just finished writing a book about Aldous Huxley, I was pleasantly surprised by how much of the material I found to be new and little known. For example, I had never come across the wonderful vignette at the opening of chapter 1 in which Aldous vomits in Julian's top hat in the presence of the Prince of Wales.”
—Don Lattin, author of The Harvard Psychedelic Club and Distilled Spirits: Getting High, Then Sober, with a Famous Writer, a Forgotten Philosopher, and a Hopeless Drunk

Click here to read an excerpt.