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The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
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The Origin of Species (original 1859; edition 1871)

by Charles Darwin

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
9,01776332 (4.14)1 / 308
Member:EvolutionRules
Title:The Origin of Species
Authors:Charles Darwin
Info:London: Studio Editions, 1994
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:Evolution, Natural Selection, Heredity, Origin of Human Beings

Work details

On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)

  1. 80
    The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins (IslandDave)
  2. 30
    The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared M. Diamond (WiJiWiJi)
  3. 30
    The Structure of Evolutionary Theory by Stephen Jay Gould (Anneli)
  4. 30
    Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea by Carl Zimmer (yapete)
  5. 30
    The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution by Sean B. Carroll (Othemts)
  6. 41
    The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (themulhern)
    themulhern: The books are similar in structure and not nearly as dry as most other science or history.
  7. 20
    Masters of the Planet: The Search for Our Human Origins by Ian Tattersall (John_Vaughan)
  8. 20
    Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species Updated by Steve Jones (Noisy)
    Noisy: Things have moved on somewhat in the last one hundred and fifty years. These two books bear a re-read ahead of the bicentenary of Darwin's birth in 2009.
  9. 20
    Evolution by Douglas J. Futuyma (davidsietsma)
  10. 31
    Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors by Nicholas Wade (ColumbusLee)
  11. 20
    Darwin and the Beagle by Alan Moorehead (John_Vaughan)
  12. 10
    Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body by Neil Shubin (Michael.Rimmer)
  13. 47
    Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll (2below)
    2below: Carroll was one of many Victorian authors influenced by Darwin's work. Alice is rife with evolutionary thinking--a crazy world inhabited almost entirely by sentient animals, with a heavy focus on eating and being eaten.
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English (69)  Spanish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 69 (next | show all)
One of the most important scientific works ever written and a very impressive achievement.

Darwin discusses his theory of the origin of species in a groundbreaking work that changed biology forever. I was very impressed with the way he expounds his theory. The novel takes you by the hand and explains different reasons why he believes this theory to be correct step by step. His work abounds in examples and evidence gathered by himself and other scientists, making it a very comprehensive and exhaustive work.
Aside from discussing evidence in favour of his theory, Darwin also discusses many counterarguments. Some he refutes immediately, often with copious evidence, but others remain standing, even at the end of the book. Somehow, I actually rather liked this about him: he has a theory, he believes it to be true, but he is still aware that there are things that are problematic and isn't afraid to discuss them. It shows Darwin in a way that is simultaneously strong and convincing, as well as modest and almost fragile.
Darwin was fully aware that there were problematic aspects to his theory - most notably the lack of genetic knowledge in his day - but still makes a convincing case based on the evidence he had available. He was also very much aware that people would disagree with his theory, which has made his discussion of facts very rigorous. He knew people would try to counter it, and spends a lot of time debunking any possible arguments they might give.

I think for a person in our time it is somewhat difficult to truly comprehend the importance of Darwin's achievement. By now, evolutionary theory is so accepted that it is hard to imagine people ever believed otherwise. Reading Darwin's book you wonder that nobody saw this before - and some of the scientists in his own days felt the same way! Sure, there had been other theories and Wallace was proposing the same theory, so there definitely had been prior developments making this the logical next step, but it still remains an amazing thing that this book was written.
A great work that anybody with an interest in biology and evolution should read. ( )
  Britt84 | Jun 3, 2016 |
I marked this as 'Read' which isn't wholly true. If there was a 'Kinda, Sorta, Read' button I would have clicked that. Wow, I'm in awe of anyone who did read this cover to cover. Kudos to you, kudos to you. ( )
  Garrison0550 | May 10, 2016 |
Because it is written in an accademic fashion it was a little hard to read but still brilliant. ( )
  AngelaGustafson | Jan 25, 2016 |
It's very discursive. You can almost hear Darwin pulling up a chair to the fireplace to discuss this idea he's had. And he's thought about it a lot.

It's also very cleverly written, starting with something the reader knows about (the human breeding of pigeons) then expanding slowly from that to the new stuff, but returning to that base whenever Darwin needs a clear, easy-to-understand example.

It's a complete refutation of the 'one great man makes a giant leap for human understanding' way of looking at scientific progress, with Darwin being very careful to say where and who he has got information from and whose ideas he's building on (even if he's retested as much of the info as he can and tested his theories as best as he can). He's also a lot nicer about his fellow scientists than a look of books today are.

I like that Darwin states the parts where his theory might not explain everything, and that he uses observation to try to plug those gaps.

He might have been able to cover more detail in the book if he stopped apologising for the amount of stuff he couldn't put in.

Looking backwards from what we know now, it's amazing how close Darwin gets to being right about most of it, and a lot of his uncertainties could only have been cleared up once genes and sequencing were discovered.

There's a couple of points where he wanders down paths that turned out to be dead ends (recapitulation theory is bunk) and we've still not got a 'how' of instincts, but given the information Darwin had to work with, he's right more than he's wrong.

It's pretty much a must read for scientists, and it's reasonably accessible to non-scientists, and a fairly straight-forward read once you've got used to certain Victorian writing quirks.

Definitely worth reading. ( )
  redfiona | Dec 20, 2015 |
Though this audiobook is sometimes a difficult listen due to the Victorian penchant for long sentences, it's worth every minute of attention. Darwin's science and argumentation is pure beauty. ( )
  Leonardo.Galvao | Oct 11, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (121 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Darwin, Charlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Appleman, PhilipIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Burrow, J. W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bynum, WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Carroll, JosephEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Charles G. DarwinIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Deardoff, Kenneth R.Cover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Eliot, Charles WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ghiselin, Michael T.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Grassé, Pierre-PaulIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Huxley, JulianIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Landacre, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mayr, ErnstIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peckham, MorseEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Quammen, DavidEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simpson, George GaylordForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Introduction
by David Quammen
On the Origin of Species is a surprising, peculiar work in many ways but among all its peculiarities my favorite is this: Seldom in the history of English prose has such a dangerous, disruptive, consequential book been so modest and affable in tone. That's because its author, Charles Darwin, was himself a modest and affable man—shy in demeanor though confident of his ideas—who meant to persuade, not to declaim or intimidate. You can hear it in his opening sentences:
When on board H.M.S. 'Beagle,' as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers.
He sounds lik a gentle uncle, clearing his throat politely, about to share a few curious observations and musings over tea.
Introduction
When on board H.M.S. 'Beagle,' as naturalist, I was much struck with certain facts in the distribution of the inhabitants of South America, and in the geological relations of the present to the past inhabitants of that continent. These facts seemed to me to throw some light on the origin of species—that mystery of mysteries, as it has been called by one of our greatest philosophers. On my return home, it occurred to me, in 1837, that something might perhaps be made out on this question by patiently accumulating and reflecting on all sorts of facts which could possibly have any bearing on it. After five years' work I allowed myself to speculate on the subject, and drew up some short notes; these I enlarged in 1844 into a sketch of the conclusions, which then seemed to me probable: from that period to the present day I have steadily pursued the same object. I hope that I may be excused for entering on these personal details, as I give them to show that I have not been hasty in coming to a decision.
Quotations
"It may be difficult, but we ought to admire the savage instinctive hatred of the queen-bee, which urges her to destroy the young queens, her daughters, as soon as they are born, or to perish herself in the combat; for undoubtedly this is for the good of the community; and maternal love or maternal hatred, though the latter fortunately is most rare, is all the same to the inexorable principles of natural selection."
Multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
For the first five editions the title was “On the Origin of Species”, the sixth edition of 1872 changed the title to “The Origin of Species”.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451529065, Mass Market Paperback)

The classic that exploded into public controversy, revolutionized the course of science, and continues to transform our views of the world.



(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:55 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

This edition includes the complete text of Darwin's original and groundbreaking work on natural history, evolution, and natural selection, and features 90 black-and-white engraved illustrations available in no other edition.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 15 descriptions

Legacy Library: Charles Darwin

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 1400102154, 1400108640

 

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