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On December 27, 1831, the young naturalist Charles Darwin left Plymouth Harbor aboard the HMS Beagle. For the next five years, he conducted research on plants and animals from around the globe, amassing a body of evidence that would culminate in one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind—the theory of evolution. Darwin presented his stunning insights in a la On December 27, 1831, the young naturalist Charles Darwin left Plymouth Harbor aboard the HMS Beagle. For the next five years, he conducted research on plants and animals from around the globe, amassing a body of evidence that would culminate in one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind—the theory of evolution. Darwin presented his stunning insights in a landmark book that forever altered the way human beings view themselves and the world they live in. In The Origin of Species, Darwin convincingly demonstrates the fact of evolution: that existing animals and plants cannot have appeared separately but must have slowly transformed from ancestral creatures. Most important, the book fully explains the mechanism that effects such a transformation: natural selection, the idea that made evolution scientifically intelligible for the first time. One of the few revolutionary works of science that is readily accessible to the nonscientist, The Origin of Species not only launched the science of modern biology but has also influenced virtually all subsequent literary, philosophical, and religious thinking.


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On December 27, 1831, the young naturalist Charles Darwin left Plymouth Harbor aboard the HMS Beagle. For the next five years, he conducted research on plants and animals from around the globe, amassing a body of evidence that would culminate in one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind—the theory of evolution. Darwin presented his stunning insights in a la On December 27, 1831, the young naturalist Charles Darwin left Plymouth Harbor aboard the HMS Beagle. For the next five years, he conducted research on plants and animals from around the globe, amassing a body of evidence that would culminate in one of the greatest discoveries in the history of mankind—the theory of evolution. Darwin presented his stunning insights in a landmark book that forever altered the way human beings view themselves and the world they live in. In The Origin of Species, Darwin convincingly demonstrates the fact of evolution: that existing animals and plants cannot have appeared separately but must have slowly transformed from ancestral creatures. Most important, the book fully explains the mechanism that effects such a transformation: natural selection, the idea that made evolution scientifically intelligible for the first time. One of the few revolutionary works of science that is readily accessible to the nonscientist, The Origin of Species not only launched the science of modern biology but has also influenced virtually all subsequent literary, philosophical, and religious thinking.

30 review for The Origin of Species, with eBook

  1. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    such a freakin' genius! and the sadest part is, that his "science" literally killed him. if you've read a lot in Darwin (as I have) you come to understand that as a religious man, his studies seriously conflicted with his beliefs. I hate it when I hear someone say that Darwin says, "we come from monkeys." because that is not the case. his theory is on EVOLUTION, not monkeys. all he wanted people to understand was adaptation and survival of the fittest is really a simple concept, and daily life- p such a freakin' genius! and the sadest part is, that his "science" literally killed him. if you've read a lot in Darwin (as I have) you come to understand that as a religious man, his studies seriously conflicted with his beliefs. I hate it when I hear someone say that Darwin says, "we come from monkeys." because that is not the case. his theory is on EVOLUTION, not monkeys. all he wanted people to understand was adaptation and survival of the fittest is really a simple concept, and daily life- proves just that. his theories don't have to impede on your beliefs in God. he was a Christian man, himself, but could still see the science before his very eyes. give it a shot if you are intrigued by species changing, growing, dying, extinction, over time...

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life = On Natural selection = Natural selection, Charles Darwin Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the heritable traits characteristic of a population over generations. Charles Darwin popularized the term "Natural selection", contrasting it with artificial sel On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life = On Natural selection‭ = Natural selection, Charles Darwin Natural selection is the differential survival and reproduction of individuals due to differences in phenotype. It is a key mechanism of evolution, the change in the heritable traits characteristic of a population over generations. Charles Darwin popularized the term "Natural selection", contrasting it with artificial selection, which is intentional, whereas natural selection is not. عنوانها: بنیاد انواع: به وسیله انتخاب طبیعی یا کشمکش و نبرد برای زیستن؛ بنیاد انواع: به وسیله انتخاب طبیعی یا تنازغ بقا در عالم طبیعت؛ انتخاب طبیعی؛ تکامل؛ بنیاد انواع؛ منشا انواع؛ خاستگاه گونه ها؛ اصل انواع؛ انتشاراتیها: ابن سینا؛ شبگیر؛ نگارستان، روزگار نو؛ نخستین خوانش: سال 1972 میلادی عنوان: بنیاد انواع : به وسیله انتخاب طبیعی یا کشمکش و نبرد برای زیستن؛ نویسنده: چارلز داروین؛ مترجم: عباس شوقی؛ تهران؛ ابن سینا، 1351، در 536 ص؛ عنوان دیگر: تکامل؛ بنیاد انواع؛ موضوع: زیست شناسی: تکامل و انتخاب طبیعی از نویسندگان بریتانیایی؛ سده 19 م عنوان: منشا انواع ؛ نویسنده: چارلز داروین، مترجم: نورالدین فرهیخته؛ تهران؛ شبگیر، 1359، در 618 ص؛ چاپ دیگر: ارومیه، انتشارات انزلی، 1363؛ چاپ دیگر: تهران، نگارستان کتاب، 1380، شابک: 9644072677؛ در 618 ص؛ چاپ دوم 1389؛ شابک: 9786005541877؛ عنوان: انتخاب طبیعی؛ نویسنده: چارلز داروین، مترجم: مرضیه خسروی؛ تهران، روزگار نو، 1394؛ در 77 ص، شابک: 9786007339534؛ پیرامون آغاز گونه‌ ها بوسیله ی انتخاب طبیعی، یا نگهداری نژادهای اصلح در تنازع بقا؛ مهم‌ترین اثر «چارلز داروین»، دانشمند و زیست‌ شناس اهل «بریتانیا» ست، که نخستین بار در سال 1859 میلادی چاپ شد. داروین در این کتاب نظرات جدیدی درباره ی فرگشت، پیدایش حیات، و انقراض انواع موجودات بیان کرد، که در زمان خود جنجال‌های بسیاری را موجب شدد. کتاب در دوازده فصل گردآوری شده‌ است. چهار فصل نخستین درباره ی اساس نظریه ی «داروین» است. چهار فصل بعدی به بررسی انتقاداتی می‌پردازد، که «داروین» پیش‌ بینی کرده، ممکن است به نظریه ی او وارد شود. سه فصل بعدی مربوط به شواهد زمین‌شناسی، و پراکندگی گیاهان، و جانوران، و رده‌ بندی، و ریخت‌ شناسی آن‌هاست. در فصل آخر تمام آنچه در کتاب آمده به صورت خلاصه بازگو شده‌ است. ا. شربیانی

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs the Bookdragon

    Charles Darwin changed the world when he wrote this book. I mean if you think about it logically, no other book has had such a powerful impact on the way humanity views the earth; yes, we have countless religious doctrine, but never before had there been a book that so drastically alternated our perceptions of the mechanisms that are behind our existence. I’m not talking about on a spiritual level, a level of ideas that cannot be scientifically proven or unproven, but on an actual physical level. Charles Darwin changed the world when he wrote this book. I mean if you think about it logically, no other book has had such a powerful impact on the way humanity views the earth; yes, we have countless religious doctrine, but never before had there been a book that so drastically alternated our perceptions of the mechanisms that are behind our existence. I’m not talking about on a spiritual level, a level of ideas that cannot be scientifically proven or unproven, but on an actual physical level. These ideas weren’t accepted overnight, few things are, but over time they began to be more and more accepted. Even today we still refer to Darwin’s ideas as “the theory of Evolution” despite the fact that it is now empirically proven as to how we got where we are. It is, generally speaking, a culturally accepted idea. The fact that we still refer to something most accept to be fact as a theory is a phenomenon. It’s unusual. Contrary to popular belief, Darwin did not seek to debunk any religious beliefs. In fact, the research he carried out put him in constant confusion about his own Christianity. For a time he believed religion and science could work together; he believed that science helped to explain some of the ideas in creation stories, but eventually he stopped believing. He lost his faith and embraced the logical mind of the scientist; again, he didn’t seek to counter religion. It was just a simple case that over time he could no longer personally and logically believe in it: it could not be proved rationally. As a student of literature, as a lover of stories, history, nature and narrative, I find myself drawn to ideas of religion and science. For anybody to call religion groundless (I say this from my own agnostically driven perspective) is to divulge a massive lack of judgment. Without wanting to offend any atheists, or anybody of faith, we will never know either way which is ultimately right. But, I do most ardently think that we can only begin to understand what it is to be human by reading and exploring the ideas of both religion and science. They have both been perpetuated by man, so I think we owe it to ourselves to try and understand why. Some of you may have noticed how eclectic my reading tastes have become. I pretty much read anything. I have many reading lists-both shortlists and longlists- but four works I simply need to read in my lifetime are The Qur'an (I have a beautiful edition I picked up from a used book store- a late 19th Century edition), The King James Bible (I’ve recently finished genesis), Relativity: The Special and the General Theory by Einstein and A Brief History of Time by Hawkins. The point is, I think in today’s world we need to understand both religion and science. Both parts form a larger part of our society. Well, anyway, that was a rather large digression. I read the origin of species back in 2013 for the first time. My second reading was more of a gloss over of certain key ideas, and a revisit of passages that I flagged down before. The ideas in the book are obviously ground-breaking, though not the first historical example of them. But, for me, this book is more of a slog than leisure driven reading. The writing isn’t great and it is terribly repetitive at times, but I suppose that’s what comes with observing the natural world in such scientific detail. From the findings here Darwin would eventually go on to lay down his full arguments in The Decent of Man, a read that sounds more compelling and all encompassing. So it’s another one to add to my list!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Dear Carol, Thank you for your mail, and of course I remember meeting you on the flight last month! It was a very interesting discussion and I'm still thinking about it. The semester has now started here at Creationist U and I am working hard, but I found time to read the book you recommended. And I'm glad I did, because it was really a lot better than I thought it would be. I guess I was expecting Darwin to be like Richard Dawkins, but he was respectful of religious ideas. And it was great that h Dear Carol, Thank you for your mail, and of course I remember meeting you on the flight last month! It was a very interesting discussion and I'm still thinking about it. The semester has now started here at Creationist U and I am working hard, but I found time to read the book you recommended. And I'm glad I did, because it was really a lot better than I thought it would be. I guess I was expecting Darwin to be like Richard Dawkins, but he was respectful of religious ideas. And it was great that he liked Paley's Natural Theology so much... he says he almost knew it by heart! We read Paley last year in History of Creation Science, and I also thought it was a terrific book. So I could see Darwin was an open-minded person who was prepared to look at both sides of the question. Richard Dawkins could learn a lot from that! The way he sets up his argument is smart. He starts off talking about how stockbreeders can improve their breed - well, I'm a country boy, and I could see he knew his stuff. This is someone who's spent time down at the farm and understands how country people feel about livestock. And I liked that he'd done all that work raising pigeons. Not the kind of scientist who just hangs out at the lab all day. After that, he introduces his Big Idea about the survival of the fittest and he almost made evolution sound sensible. He's a good writer. And then he was honest when he explained all the problems with the theory. He really got me - I was wondering if he was going to mention any of that stuff, and a page later he came out and said just what I was thinking! Nice work, Mr. Darwin. But I did wonder what he was doing, cutting out the ground from under his own feet. He said he could explain things like the eye and how bees could evolve to make honeycombs, but even if he was real good at making his case, I wasn't buying any. So by the halfway mark, I figured he was done, but like ol' Dubya used to say, I misunderestimated him - he'd saved all his best stuff for last. He had some good shots! I got to admit, he made me think. Why does God put the species that look alike in the same place? Like he says, it is weird how you have a mountain range, and there's one kind of animals and plants on one side, and a different kind on the other side. God's ways are inscrutable to us, but why does He care about those mountains? And the islands, they were even worse. He says if you look at the species on a lot of islands, you don't have any mammals there, except you do have bats. Why? I could see where he was going with this one - the bats could blow in off the mainland and evolve, but other mammals couldn't do that. I admit it, I don't have an answer, except maybe God's testing our faith again. But I can see not everyone will like that. I'm still wondering about those bats! Okay Mr. Darwin, I said it already but I'll say it again, you were a smart guy. So how's life at MIT? And I hope you read the book I recommended to you. A Canticle for Leibowitz will show you that faith and science have more in common than you might think! Take care, Bob

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stephen M

    Edits for NR because I love him that much. This: "This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection. Variations neither useful not injurious would not be affected by natural selection, and would be left a fluctuating element, as perhaps we see in the species called polymorphic. "We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some physical change, for instance, of climate. The Edits for NR because I love him that much. This: "This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection. Variations neither useful not injurious would not be affected by natural selection, and would be left a fluctuating element, as perhaps we see in the species called polymorphic. "We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some physical change, for instance, of climate. The proportional numbers of its inhabitants would almost immediately undergo a change, and some species might become extinct. We may conclude, from what we have seen of the intimate and complex manner in which the inhabitants of each country are bound together, that any change in the numerical proportions of some of the inhabitants, independently of the change of climate itself, would most seriously affect many of the others. If the country were open on its borders, new forms would certainly immigrate, and this also would seriously disturb the relations of some of the former inhabitants. Let it be remembered how powerful the influence of a single introduced tree or mammal has been shown to be. But in the case of an island, or of a country partly surrounded by barriers, into which new and better adapted forms could not freely enter, we should then have places in the economy of nature which would assuredly be better filled up, if some of the original inhabitants were in some manner modified; for, had the area been open immigration, these same places would have been seized on by intruders. In such case, ever slight modification, which in the course of ages chanced to arise, and which in any way favoured the individuals of any of the species, by better adapting them to their altered conditions, would tend to be preserved and natural selection would thus have free scope for the work of improvement. "We have reason to believe, as stated in the first chapter, that a change in the conditions of life, by specially acting on the reproductive systems, cause or increases variability; and in the foregoing case the conditions of life are supposed to have undergone a changes, and this would manifestly be favourable to natural selection, by giving a better chance of profitable variations occurring; and unless profitable variations do occur, natural selection can do nothing." (I DIDN'T WRITE THIS. DARWIN DID IN THIS BOOK.) Or This.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.” ― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species It is amazing to think that this mild, scientific book published a little less than 155 years ago caused (and is still causing) such a complete storm. I'm surprised at how adapted we have become (or at least the segment of those people on the planet who don't reject Darwin's theory of natural selection as counter to their “One general law, leading to the advancement of all organic beings, namely, multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.” ― Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species It is amazing to think that this mild, scientific book published a little less than 155 years ago caused (and is still causing) such a complete storm. I'm surprised at how adapted we have become (or at least the segment of those people on the planet who don't reject Darwin's theory of natural selection as counter to their own idea of the way God makes and shakes) to Darwin's revolutionary idea(s). Like with many of the pantheon of scientific geniuses (Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, etc) there was a bit of random chance involved. The ground was ready for Darwin's adapted seed. There were enough scholars and scientists and rationalists around to carry his idea(s) hither and his theory thither. So while this book, and Darwin himself, were both stellar examples of scientific restraint, the force and momentum of OftS can't be under appreciated. It was just the right time and right place for a scientific revolution. Darwin and his little book walked by a labour of scientific mouldywarps who happened to find themselves on the chalk cliffs of science, pushed those sterile hybrids off, and never looked back. Evolve bitches!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul E. Morph

    Ah, you can't really review a book like this. It's almost complete transcended its role as a seminal scientific tome and become a legitimate historic artefact. You can't review a historic artefact. This is a fantastic read, even viewed in a completely different way to how it would have been read at the time. It really is amazing how much evolutionary biology Darwin was able to formulate almost a century before Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA. It boggles the mind what Darwin could have been ca Ah, you can't really review a book like this. It's almost complete transcended its role as a seminal scientific tome and become a legitimate historic artefact. You can't review a historic artefact. This is a fantastic read, even viewed in a completely different way to how it would have been read at the time. It really is amazing how much evolutionary biology Darwin was able to formulate almost a century before Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA. It boggles the mind what Darwin could have been capable of if he'd had access to the last 150 years of genetic research.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Joey Woolfardis

    "If, however, a caterpillar were taken out of a hammock made up, for instance, to the third stage, and were put into one finished up to the sixth stage, so that much of its work was already done for it, far from feeling the benefit of this, it was much embarrassed, and, in order to complete its hammock, seemed forced to start from the third stage." On the Origin of Species is one of the most important books ever written. Although a lot of people-scientists, naturalists and the like-were coming "If, however, a caterpillar were taken out of a hammock made up, for instance, to the third stage, and were put into one finished up to the sixth stage, so that much of its work was already done for it, far from feeling the benefit of this, it was much embarrassed, and, in order to complete its hammock, seemed forced to start from the third stage." On the Origin of Species is one of the most important books ever written. Although a lot of people-scientists, naturalists and the like-were coming to the same kind of conclusions, Darwin was one of the first who wrote it all down in a profound and concise manner and used his influence and friends to make it a well-known theory: the theory of evolution. There is only one thing you need to know before you read this, and that is that Charles Darwin was a very religious man. This is a five-star worthy book, but my ignorance of this fact caused me to be so infuriated by the end that I couldn't bring myself to rate it higher. It is written exquisitely: if you've read anything particularly science-related in this day and age you will notice how science-related it is. The words, the terms, they're all very much science-related and it can be so difficult to really understand and comprehend what you're reading because it's almost in another language. This is written very much in the way any Victorian novel would have been written. There is a smattering of Latin terms, but for the most part it is easy to understand if you get in the right frame of mind as you would a Classic. It can be heavy going, however, as the paragraphs are long and often repetitive, but his thoughts on pigeons are the most endearing things I've come across: this is Victorian science and it's all about pigeons. To go back to why I only rated it three stars: throughout at no point did Darwin mention God or the creation of the world, except perhaps in very subtle reference and the theory of evolution and instinct reigns supreme, until the very end when he concludes that God did not create the world 1859 years, but millions of years ago, instead, and that all current flora and fauna are descended from the original God-created animals. I should have expected something like this but I did not and that annoyed me more than it should have. Of course, it makes the entire thing that much more impressive, though the horrific experience Darwin must have gone through as he tried to make a religious-belief co-live with a scientific frame of mind would have been supremely agonising. It's wholly my fault for this ignorance, but I still can't bring myself to heighten it. It's still one of the most important books ever written and its legacy will never become diminished, but it is often repetitive and sometimes out-dated with quite a lengthy part about geology which is fairly unremarkable, but his amusing and enjoyable experiments with flowers and his views on pigeons are just a delight. Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Pinterest | Shop | Etsy

  9. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    My book group selected this book for discussion probably because of the historic impact it has had on the field of science. However, I found it to be very worthy of respect from a literary viewpoint. Charles Darwin's writing comes across as a methodical thinker and patient explainer to many recalcitrant readers who are determined not to believe a word he says. He had me convinced after only a couple dozen pages, but he kept doing what seemed to me to be piling on observation after observation, e My book group selected this book for discussion probably because of the historic impact it has had on the field of science. However, I found it to be very worthy of respect from a literary viewpoint. Charles Darwin's writing comes across as a methodical thinker and patient explainer to many recalcitrant readers who are determined not to believe a word he says. He had me convinced after only a couple dozen pages, but he kept doing what seemed to me to be piling on observation after observation, explanation after explanation, until after a while I felt like crying out, "Enough already, I believe!" Frankly, I was impressed by the breadth of knowledge about the natural world already accumulated by the middle of the 19th century as demonstrated by this book. There are obvious things poor old Darwin didn't know about, one of them being the laws of genealogy discovered by Gregor Johann Mendel. Mendel was a contemporary of Darwin, and I have heard that a published copy of Mendel's study was on Darwin's book shelves but it hadn't been opened or read. Of course Darwin wasn't the only person who ignored Mendel. Mendel's work wasn't appreciated for its contribution to understanding of inherited traits until after his death. Meanwhile Darwin is writing this book giving many observations regarding the variability of crossings of various plants and animals, but doesn't understand why. Also, Darwin was plagued with physicists of the time who calculated that earth couldn't be as old as needed for Darwin's theory of natural selection to accomplish all the required changes. The physicists were basing their calculations of the rate cooling of the core of the earth. Of course they were wrong; what they didn't know about was radioactive decay which gives off heat they weren't making allowances for. It turns out the earth is even older than Darwin would have guessed. And of course the really big advance of science that Darwin didn't know about was the DNA double helix. Darwin insists that life forms need to be classed according to genealogy, and he speculates that in the future scientists will be able to classify life forms more accurately as more knowledge is obtained about them. Darwin would be amazed to know how precisely genealogy can be determined these days. For example, it can be determined that humans are more closely related to fungi than to photosynthetic plants. I listened to the audio version of this book. This is an example of a book that is much easier to listen to than to read because of all the big Latin words used in describing species. Having the words read aloud made them fit into the context of the sentence much better than if I were trying to read (and probably skip over) those unfamiliar words. There were six editions of "Origin of Species" in Darwin's life time. It could be argued that the 1859 edition is the second best version of this book with the 1860 British edition being slightly better in that it contains some insignificant, but non-substantive, corrections. The editions of 1861, 1866, 1869, and 1872 are all inferior. In them Darwin made changes and expansions in an effort to meet the objections that arose during those times. The modifications expanded the book and clouded the argument. Since most of the objections that were raised would be regarded as silly today, Darwin's arguments against them are of interest for social history, but not for Darwin's theory. I think that most published copies today are based on the 1872 edition. If you have an earlier edition you will find that it is shorter and, as indicated above, is probably better. The following quotation is from the sixth edition and not in the earlier editions. It is from a section of the book on instincts and follows a couple paragraphs discussing the habit of some birds to lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species. Mr. Darwin has just sighted some of the observations of the nesting habits of a type of cowbird [Molothrus Bonariensis] written by a naturalist colleague. "Mr. Hudson is a strong disbeliever in evolution, but he appears to have been much struck by the imperfect instincts of the Molothrus Bonariensis that he quotes my words and asks, 'must we consider these habits not as an especially endowed or created instincts but as small consequences of one general law, namely transitions?' "I take from the above that Darwin was enjoying the irony of a naturalist from the creationist camp finding it difficult to attribute to God the endowment of the slothful nest making habits to the cowbird. Since the behavior is repugnant it must have been caused by that old nasty evolution stuff (i.e. the work of the devil).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    I swear I cannot figure what all the fuss is about. This is a science book. It was sometimes a bit tough to read because of the depth into detail. If I were an anthropologist I'm sure I would more appreciate that detail, but as a layman it did at times seem too thick. If I were lost in an uncivilized world and had only two books, I would want a Webster's dictionary and this Origin of Species. The dictionary to learn word definitions and this book to learn about the flora and fauna around me. For I swear I cannot figure what all the fuss is about. This is a science book. It was sometimes a bit tough to read because of the depth into detail. If I were an anthropologist I'm sure I would more appreciate that detail, but as a layman it did at times seem too thick. If I were lost in an uncivilized world and had only two books, I would want a Webster's dictionary and this Origin of Species. The dictionary to learn word definitions and this book to learn about the flora and fauna around me. For all those people who get upset because you think this book may contradict another one you are so fond of, just be very careful not to fall off the edge of the flat 6,ooo year old earth......mgc

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    Decry or applaud it, there's no question this work has had a profound effect not just on science, but the culture at large. What I wouldn't read this book for is the science, or in an effort to either defend or refute the argument for evolution. The core of Darwin's argument certainly is still what was taught in my Catholic high school biology class (taught by a nun). In a nutshell, the theory is that given there are wide-ranging subtle Variations among organisms, the Malthusian Struggle for Exi Decry or applaud it, there's no question this work has had a profound effect not just on science, but the culture at large. What I wouldn't read this book for is the science, or in an effort to either defend or refute the argument for evolution. The core of Darwin's argument certainly is still what was taught in my Catholic high school biology class (taught by a nun). In a nutshell, the theory is that given there are wide-ranging subtle Variations among organisms, the Malthusian Struggle for Existence causes by means of Natural Selection of the inheritable traits that are the best Adaptations to the environment the Origin of Species or as Darwin calls it, the "theory of descent with modification." But, after all, this book is now over 150 years old. Science is about explaining natural phenomenon and correcting mistakes through observation, experimentation and falsification--not dogma--and so is always a moving target. I know that. But I still raised an eyebrow when in the first chapter of the book Darwin said he believed the "most frequent cause of variability" was caused by the experiences of the parents before conception--such as cows' udders being larger in countries where they're milked because the habit of milking by itself alters in the reproductive organs what is inherited by the next generation. WTF Darwin? When Darwin first propounded his theory of evolution (a word never used in the book by the way) through natural selection, Mendel had yet to discover the basic principles of genetics in his experiments with peas and Watson and Crick had yet to unravel the structure of DNA. Nor was continental drift known and understood, so there were notable gaps in Darwin's reasoning that has since been filled. Stephen Jay Gould, one of the staunchest defenders and popularizers of evolution is famous within science particularly for where he differs from Darwin. Darwin thought changes in species were very gradual. Gould favors "punctuated equilibrium" where there are rapid changes followed by long periods of stability. That's why scientists today talk of the "theory of evolution," not of "Darwinism" as if a scientific principle is an unchanging creed and Origin of Species scripture. So, the book is dated and filled with lots of details I'm sure are just plain wrong and might be onerous to unlearn. That does make me reluctant to give this book top marks despite its profound impact. Someone interested in modern evolutionary science would be better off picking up a copy of a book by Jared Diamond, Richard Dawkins, Carl Sagan (although by now I suppose his very readable Dragons of Eden is dated) or Stephen Jay Gould. So, was there no value in reading On the Origin of Species? I wouldn't say that. It's surprisingly readable--or at least understandable. There are definitely dry passages that were a slog to get through, my eyes glazing over as Darwin gave example after exhaustive example to make his points. However, I couldn't help but be impressed by the knowledge of nature shown by his wide-ranging examples from every continent from ants and bees and algae to pigeons to zebras. Given the way he cited various authorities and spoke about his own experiments, I definitely felt that here was a master generalist and enthusiast on nature. Moreover Darwin does have a gift for metaphor and illustrative examples. I was particularly taken by his explanation of "inter-crossing" and the function of sex in creating biological diversity. I also was struck by how cautious and civil in tone Darwin is in his arguments, devoting an entire chapter on what he saw could be the flaws and holes in his theory--particularly the issues of transitions between species and intermediate forms. Bottom line? Arguably this specific book had as much influence on the literature and politics of the next century as Freud or Marx, so I think there is historical value in reading this, preferably in the first edition (which is what I read) that exploded upon the world in 1859.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Too much to unpack here and not an easy read as it was written 150 years ago. Despite all of the knocks against reading Origin for enjoyment, I can only express extreme awe and state the obvious - how much of a genius Darwin was. From his theory of natural selection to glacier theory, to hybrid plants, to fossil theory and a dozen other biological and geological theories that he developed or contributed to, it is remarkable to me how very little Darwin got wrong in a book that was 600 pages long Too much to unpack here and not an easy read as it was written 150 years ago. Despite all of the knocks against reading Origin for enjoyment, I can only express extreme awe and state the obvious - how much of a genius Darwin was. From his theory of natural selection to glacier theory, to hybrid plants, to fossil theory and a dozen other biological and geological theories that he developed or contributed to, it is remarkable to me how very little Darwin got wrong in a book that was 600 pages long. We live in a science based world, or at least we like to think so, and this man manages to remain so relevant. It is the scientific method at its best, one part rigorous logic, one part observation, and one part intuition. The recipe works.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa J.

    This is not exactly what I would call "fun reading," but it's worth it. At times, it was hard getting through this book, mainly because it's dense and sometimes Darwin tended to drag and not get to the point, but I'm glad I finally read it. However, I think I should have read this at another point of my life - I mean, it was exasperating to read something I had just studied at a biology course I was taking. I still don't regret reading this. If you're considering on whether picking this book or This is not exactly what I would call "fun reading," but it's worth it. At times, it was hard getting through this book, mainly because it's dense and sometimes Darwin tended to drag and not get to the point, but I'm glad I finally read it. However, I think I should have read this at another point of my life - I mean, it was exasperating to read something I had just studied at a biology course I was taking. I still don't regret reading this. If you're considering on whether picking this book or not (yeah, I'm actually recommending it), I suggest you do it between your leisure reading because it can get tedious if you swallow it all at once.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Are you an Evangelical Christian? Or, perhaps you are a student participating in one of nation's modern and progressive science classes, learning about the Origins of Man, but confused by the lack of scientifically observable studies missing from your text books. Fortunately for you, Darwin spent decades of his life documenting the observable changes in various species, hypothesizing about these changes and drawing some interesting conclusions about his life's work.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Markus

    On The Origin of Species Darwin (1809-1882) Darwin published this book in 1859. It is his scientific treaty based on the idea of all organism living on the earth to be descendants from one or several original progenitors. The work is mostly a transcription of the author’s notes throughout his years of study and his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Southern Hemisphere. It had likely been addressed to the quite sceptic scientific community of his time, to demonstrate his idea and to bring suppo On The Origin of Species Darwin (1809-1882) Darwin published this book in 1859. It is his scientific treaty based on the idea of all organism living on the earth to be descendants from one or several original progenitors. The work is mostly a transcription of the author’s notes throughout his years of study and his famous voyage on the HMS Beagle to the Southern Hemisphere. It had likely been addressed to the quite sceptic scientific community of his time, to demonstrate his idea and to bring supporting material enough to convince and to proof its validity. Apart from the excessively rich scientific vocabulary, the book is pleasant reading. A few quotations will give some insight: "This Abstract, which I now publish, must necessarily be imperfect. I cannot here give references and authorities for my several statements, and I must trust to the reader reposing some confidence into my accuracy. No doubt errors will have crept in, though I hope I have always been cautious in trusting to good authorities alone. In considering the origin of species, it is quite conceivable that a naturalist, reflecting on the mutual affinities of organic beings, on their embryonic relations, their geographical distribution, geological successions, and other such facts, might come to the conclusion that species had not been independently created, but had descended, like varieties from other species.” The work is developed in chapters: Variations under Domestications, Variations in Nature, Struggle for existence, Natural selection; or Survival of the fittest, Laws of variation, Difficulties of the theory, Miscellaneous objections to the theory of Natural Selection, Instinct, Hybridism, On the imperfection of the Geological Record, On the Geological Succession of Organic Beings Geographical distribution, Mutual affinities of organic beings, Embryology, Quotations from Recapitulation and Conclusion: "I see no good reason why the view given in this volume should shock the religious feelings of anyone. It could be just as noble a conception for a Deity to believe that He created a few original forms capable of self-development into other and needful forms, as to believe that He required a fresh act of creation to supply the voids caused by the action of His laws. The belief that species were immutable productions was almost unavoidable as long as the history of the world was believed to be of short duration; and now that we have acquired some idea of the lapse of time, we are apt to assume, that the geological record would have afforded us plain evidence of the mutation of species. Now, things are wholly changed, and almost every naturalist admits the great principle of evolution, over the old belief in the creation of species from the dust of the earth. The laws of Nature, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to the struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural selection, and the Extinction of less-improved forms. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one.” I have much enjoyed reading this book and am glad not to have missed it. I recommend it to anyone interested in Natural History or just in knowledge as such.

  16. 5 out of 5

    D.G.

    My science education left a lot to be desired. I was never taught the Theory of Natural Selection in school but only heard it mentioned when some adults scoffed at it. Thankfully, my natural talents steered me away from a career in Biology or Genetics, so this lack of knowledge didn’t affect my career prospects. It just affected my understanding of the world. I learned years later the basics of the theory but this just piqued my interest about reading the actual book. I always have problems with My science education left a lot to be desired. I was never taught the Theory of Natural Selection in school but only heard it mentioned when some adults scoffed at it. Thankfully, my natural talents steered me away from a career in Biology or Genetics, so this lack of knowledge didn’t affect my career prospects. It just affected my understanding of the world. I learned years later the basics of the theory but this just piqued my interest about reading the actual book. I always have problems with Victorian authors (very long sentences) so the print version gave me some difficulty. If it weren’t for Richard Dawkins' excellent narration, I don’t know that I could have enjoyed this book as much. I’m almost shocked that I was able to follow the concepts herein as well as I did. I am amazed that Mr. Darwin could write this book (one of the most important in the history of science and the whole world) in such clear, concise way, that a person with minimal understanding of the topic in general could follow along so well. The concepts are explained logically with tons of examples so the reader is not left dangling wondering what he meant. Not only that, but he also writes beautifully and the prose is sometimes as poetic as it is instructive: As buds give rise by growth to fresh buds, and these, if vigorous, branch out and overtop on all sides many a feebler branch, so by generation I believe it has been with the great Tree of Life, which fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications. From the beginning, I understood this wasn’t a book I could listen in one sitting or while doing other things. I took it slowly and that allowed me to think things through. It made me think a lot about our place in the world and how sometimes we think we are above the system when in fact, we are just one creature among millions and not the most important in the grand scheme of nature (if we were to go extinct, the planet will continue merrily along.) It made reflect in our attempts to control nature, to see change as a bad thing, and our hubris that we can keep in check a process that has moved relentlessly forward for millions of years. Darwin was certainly cognizant that his theory wouldn’t be accepted immediately: “Any one whose disposition leads him to attach more weight to unexplained difficulties than to the explanation of a certain number of facts will certainly reject my theory.” But I think he would be surprised by how much discussion there is still going on about the subject, specially given that DNA evidence has already proven he was correct in thinking that every living being sprouted from a single progenitor (mind staggering as it seems.) As I already mentioned, Richard Dawkins is the narrator for this audiobook and he did an amazing job - you could tell he's probably read this book a million times and knows it like the back of his hand. His diction was very precise and clear; and his enthusiasm for the subject was contagious. It almost feels like Darwin is the one speaking. Overall, a must read for anybody with an interest in learning how we came into being.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Cora Judd

    Richard Dawkins' narration of this book is excellent -- I enjoyed it immensely, however, without my semester of physical anthropology, the essential points would have required much more mental attention. Dawkins inserts clarifying information throughout the book and while Darwin's writing is wonderfully clear, I think more of Dawkins' notes and updates would have been an enhancement. I was surprised to see how diverse Darwin's background research was and how elegantly he wrote. He anticipated cou Richard Dawkins' narration of this book is excellent -- I enjoyed it immensely, however, without my semester of physical anthropology, the essential points would have required much more mental attention. Dawkins inserts clarifying information throughout the book and while Darwin's writing is wonderfully clear, I think more of Dawkins' notes and updates would have been an enhancement. I was surprised to see how diverse Darwin's background research was and how elegantly he wrote. He anticipated counter-arguments to his ideas and cleanly, systematically eliminated them. As he concluded each level of his argument, the gaps in his knowledge (due to gaps in scientific progress at the time of his being published) required that he make certain logical leaps and assumptions. These were especially interesting because he was invariably correct, as time has shown. Dawkins abridged the book to some degree which makes me leary - I want to know what the author intended the reader to know. And because the subject is still (astoundingly) controversial, abridging anything of this nature will likely invite criticism.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Pollopicu

    What in the world made me want to read this Goliath of a science book? My goodness! I guess if I had to search deep within myself I would have to say I wanted to read anything Darwin, just to see what all the fuss was about, but mostly because of the reviews I read on Goodreads. I thought The Origin of Species would turn me into the science-loving person I always thought lurked inside me. The main reason I finished it is because any science book that has had this much publicity deserves to be rea What in the world made me want to read this Goliath of a science book? My goodness! I guess if I had to search deep within myself I would have to say I wanted to read anything Darwin, just to see what all the fuss was about, but mostly because of the reviews I read on Goodreads. I thought The Origin of Species would turn me into the science-loving person I always thought lurked inside me. The main reason I finished it is because any science book that has had this much publicity deserves to be read and finished. First of all, it contained a considerable amount of text for a study which was only suppose to be a treatise. This book wasn't difficult to read, as many would have you think. It's not. In fact, it's pretty straight forward. But are you interested in reading 700 pages of things having to do with birds, aquatic mammals, cattle, beaks, gills, bills, plumage, fauna, fowl, pollen, eggs, and embryos? Don't get me wrong, I'm as interested to hear where we might have originated from as much as the next person, but if you take the book at face value, who would be interested in reading page after page of detailed observations of animals most of us will live a lifetime without even having encountered and if we do, so what. I say that as a lover of nature. I mean a LOVER of all things outdoors that have to do with looking at stuff, not reading about it. Where I live we often see herons, and gorgeous owls, foxes, snakes, etc, but I don't want to read 700 pages about them. I want to admire them for a while, but then keep it moving. From what I gathered, it seems to me that scientists and naturalists can't even agree on the differences between species and varieties to begin with. A lot of these studies aren't even conclusive, which makes a lot of sense now since it's a book on the THEORY of evolution. I didn't stop to think of the literal definition of the word "theory". Had I paused for a moment to give it thought, I would've realized I would be committing weeks to a treatise that is basically speculation. To me that's a huge waste of time when there are so many other books out there to read. Give me history or give me straight up fiction by topics on theory seem pointless to me. Also, the idea that Darwin's theory of evolution was indirectly responsible for the genocide of so many people during the Nazi era is simply horrific. I had no clue when I began reading this book that Hitler was a follower of Darwin's theory, taking it to heart (a bit too much) the supposed superiority of the white race, hence, making all other races inferior, and therefore extinguishing them. The Subtitle of The Species of Origin was suppose to be “The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life.” Darwin referred to inferior races as "savages", and by savages he meant people with darker skin, such as Native Americans and Africans. Darwin, being the prolific and respected scientist he was, influenced many people (through his work) to practice prejudice, racism and oppression. Hitler believed that the human gene pool could be improved by selective breeding, very much like that of cattle in farm breeding, thus protecting the "superior" race. This is simply horrifying. In the end I'm glad I read this book, although I hated the actual reading part. Not so much because of what it contains, but because of the role it has played in our history, of which I was clueless about. In the frustration of reading this book, I made the effort to dig for more information about why so many modern day people are still fascinated by it, still not sure, but I did learn a lot from it, and it did inspire me to dig deep into other genocides that have been committed around the world in which this book may or may not have been indirectly responsible for. However, the book was absolutely tedious. It's like reading about a subject you absolutely loath, like sports, or construction. The part of the book that actually cracked me up was chapter XII (Geographical Distribution) because after having read what seemed like 200 pages of that, the next chapter (XIII) was called "Geographical Distribution continued", lol. At that point I was delirious and might have lost it. It's very rare for me to purposely not recommend reading what people consider a "required read", but this was a tough one. If you want to read it to add it to your library, go ahead, but I'm giving you fair warning, it's laborious like nothing you've ever read. You will have to see for yourself.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    3.0 to 3.5 stars. Not anything like what I would call a "fun" read, but I am really happy that I finally read this book given the tremendous influence it has had on the history on modern scientific thinking. The book itself, while dry, is fairly accessible and is not bogged down with overly complex scientific jargon. I would read a couple of chapters a day in between my "pleasure" reading and it made the book much easier to absorb. Definitely worth reading.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bananas

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Celebratory 2:00 am review, just great!!! When I finished this, I was definitely clapping my hands!! This is not a story if you are one of those who are mad excited to read it. It's a tome of its size that is equivalent to an encyclopedia with depth, width, and value. It's the densest nonfiction I have read. It is an attempt to read a genre I really wasn't familiar with. Since I got into reading, I believe that nonfiction is one of the genres that is most daunting to me. In 2016, I definitely at Celebratory 2:00 am review, just great!!! When I finished this, I was definitely clapping my hands!! This is not a story if you are one of those who are mad excited to read it. It's a tome of its size that is equivalent to an encyclopedia with depth, width, and value. It's the densest nonfiction I have read. It is an attempt to read a genre I really wasn't familiar with. Since I got into reading, I believe that nonfiction is one of the genres that is most daunting to me. In 2016, I definitely attempted a few; yet, I never really expected to grab this one off the shelves like that and just read it. It has an encyclopedia feel and it definitely reads like one as well. Charles Darwin is quite the familiar science genius known to students studying biology everywhere. He along with Mendel, the father of genetics, are the monsters for biology making it seemingly hard. As I mentioned above it's not a story, and it's not a simple read or a book for enjoyment. It is also not a list of drone. It's a rather valuable read of its size with historical touches and very good research on animals and all their genres with density and heaviness. The theory of natural selection as studied in class is not well explained by mere professors. I bet these clowns never came to attempt reading this. I'm repeating it's not a novel and a story you read for leisure time. Professors want to finish curricula, and that's why that's the part that's rushed at the end. I dreaded the study of kingdoms and phyla and Darwinism, because it was never properly explained. After reading this, I think my self respect and self esteem both grew at sheer, personal will while experiencing this book. Before reading, my imagination was always centered around the fact that this book is boring and I'll never find it on ebook. Now, I come to say that I was really thankful to my library for providing it online. Natural selection as emphasized, is the pure fact that all animals are picked out in accordance of their strengths and most intricate and distinguishable characteristics to build the up and coming generations. With this critical focus and specific selection comes variability. Variability is the guy who screams so loud, that for instance, a rose and an orchid are not the same, even though they are both very well known beautiful flowers to the sight of our eyes. Different species of dogs and bees evolve to not be the same. Each animal evolves to have their varied kinds and characteristics. I think of it as myself reading a book and loving it at the end. Did I necessarily love each page? Not necessarily, which presents myself as selective; however, I may have liked the book for its content or flow of a story, even though I didn't like a character or two, or even three. This book is my dense pride of 2016. It will mark my last nonfiction of the year, not because I had enough and finished a book; but rather, because of its mere volume, density, and pure heaviness. I intentionally took long breaks to go back and think what I learned, it really was a ton of material!!! This doesn't make it a textbook. It's an awesome encyclopedia full of potential with long lists of animals who were very well researched down to the hairs on their skin to state their merest and very specified difference, as to say: "We are both redheads, but you specifically have this characteristic pimple or bump, which makes you slightly different". Natural selection is a dense concept to attain and learn, because of how variability in the varieties are sincerely observed. I had mentioned that I skipped a whole chapter, which I ended up reading at the very end. It was the chapter on the objections against the theory. I was wondering why is this in the middle of the book, rather than at the end? I skipped it at first to first learn about the theory and various research along with all the researchers who helped Darwin writing this book with insights on their research. Objections, I thought came later. The reason why they came in the middle, I later on discovered is for the fact that these particular objections were not covering the whole book, but rather the first few chapters. It was very good, very dense, and a very important scientific classic. It needs a good amount of patience and belief in your progress. I have a different appreciation for animals and plants knowing that the best of its kind supplant all the others, making it really significant and absolutely striking. Seriously? Yes, absolute genius of a volume!! :)

  21. 5 out of 5

    Annie

    Sometimes when I read books with ideas that changed the world, I notice they’re boring. Not because it’s poorly written, archaically worded, or just a boring topic- all untrue- but because the ideas were so influential that the entire book is just one big “duh, yeah, I’m already on board with this, you don’t need to harp on so much, I see what you’re getting at and I agree it makes sense.” (I remember a similar feeling with Singer’s Animal Liberation, for example.) This is obviously one of thos Sometimes when I read books with ideas that changed the world, I notice they’re boring. Not because it’s poorly written, archaically worded, or just a boring topic- all untrue- but because the ideas were so influential that the entire book is just one big “duh, yeah, I’m already on board with this, you don’t need to harp on so much, I see what you’re getting at and I agree it makes sense.” (I remember a similar feeling with Singer’s Animal Liberation, for example.) This is obviously one of those books. If you’ve got a high school diploma, you already understand natural selection, and if you’re interested in biology at all, you probably also understand the evidentiary support/finer tunings of the theory. Essentially this is like, 700 pages of Darwin giving evidence for his theory by listing out different animals or plants and discussing how the variations imply a common ancestor/his theory and how they disprove his opponents’ arguments. Pigeons with X number of tail feathers, horses with leg stripes, radishes versus rutabagas. Lots and lots and lots of details about things like this. I’m glad I read it because Darwin is clearly anxious nobody will believe his wild new theory, since he throws so much evidence at the reader. This serves, to me, as a fantastic reminder that this was, in fact, a radical kooky theory at the time and nothing in science should be taken for granted as truth because there is always, always always, a shakeup on the horizon that will make us question everything. And no era is immune to that- every era has thought itself “finally at the truth” and every time we’ve been wrong. As we are now, in ways we can’t even imagine yet.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Karnika Kapoor

    Not to my surprise, many questions that are thrown at Richard Dawkins by the creationist on debate panels have been answered as it is in this book. If only people read this by themselves! It was fascinating how the "missing links" was explained by Darwin in a context of geology. Most importantly he was indicating towards Tectonics (that was brought into light many years after darwin's time by Alfred Wegener). Clearly, Darwin was way ahead of his contemporaries. I knew it took him years to publish Not to my surprise, many questions that are thrown at Richard Dawkins by the creationist on debate panels have been answered as it is in this book. If only people read this by themselves! It was fascinating how the "missing links" was explained by Darwin in a context of geology. Most importantly he was indicating towards Tectonics (that was brought into light many years after darwin's time by Alfred Wegener). Clearly, Darwin was way ahead of his contemporaries. I knew it took him years to publish his work (arguably, partially because of psychosomatic dissonance), but the intense work on gathering information and years of research bolsters his point. He indeed wanted to be very sure of the theory. I am amazed by darwin's thought process that seems very instinctive to anyone who grew up studying about evolution ... however, being the forerunner in joining the dots on the same is very nonintuitive which marks his brilliance. Highly recommended to the Creationists.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Having finished Origin, I am taking the liberty of adding a few comments at the top of what I posted when I first added it to my "currently-reading shelf." To the would-be classics reader who is a bit daunted at the notion of tackling a fourteen chapter science book written in 19th Century technical terms I offer the suggestion that the back half of Origin is purely optional and can be let go. The first six chapters are the most enjoyable. Four is the big one, where Darwin presents the big pitch Having finished Origin, I am taking the liberty of adding a few comments at the top of what I posted when I first added it to my "currently-reading shelf." To the would-be classics reader who is a bit daunted at the notion of tackling a fourteen chapter science book written in 19th Century technical terms I offer the suggestion that the back half of Origin is purely optional and can be let go. The first six chapters are the most enjoyable. Four is the big one, where Darwin presents the big pitch, with One through Three being the wind-up to prep the audience. Six is fairly unusual in science literature, being an effort to admit problems with the theory and making efforts to address them. Chapter Seven, on instinct, is aumsing but not vital to the core of the work if your attention is already starting to wander. The rest that follow involve technical arguments that may be pointless to most modern readers. To follow why Darwin makes them one would have to conversant in the state of the art in zoology, botany and geology as it was 150 years ago. I skipped much of it. A few points readers with only a casual knowledge of science may take from this book- Evolution predates Darwin, whose contribution is actually the mechanism of natural selection which explains how it works. He also contributed another mechanism, sexual selection, for traits inherited for their value in obtaining mates. Darwin offers an unexpected chuckle in a quote from Aristotle which suggestive of an understanding of something very much like natural selection. >What follows is old commentary. I am reading this one for the historical value, not the science. A big joke is that people of a certain outlook do try to read it for the science so they can refute it. Silly. Origin is as about as state of the art on evolution science as Newton is on 21st Century string theory. Ah, well. What I have found interesting so far is the struggle Darwin goes through to make his argument in the absence of the kind of modern scientific language or terminology that would have made things simple and clear to his readers. Even more interesting is that Darwin had no clue as to the mechanics of inheritance and admitted as much (the discovery of DNA was a long way off in the future), and yet was able to work out so much on his own without that knowledge. Cool factoid: Darwin took his time pondering his theories for many years before suddenly rushing to get them into print. It seems that while he was taking his time another naturalist named Wallace worked out natural selection too...and then wrote to Darwin for help in placing his findings in front of the right experts! You know how the science establishment is about giving credit to the first one to publish and forgetting the also-rans who came to the same conclusions just a tad too late. One party gets into the textbooks of future generations, while the other is lucky to become a footnote. I'll post some stars when I'm done reading.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    So this is the foundation of the theory of evolution. No, Darwin was not the first or only one with musings much like the ones described in this book, but he took some other people's theories (incl. that of his own grandfather) and took them further or perfected them. After having spent 5 years on the Beagle and thus seeing all kinds of places, Darwin had returned to England. It would be many years before he published this book but during the last stretch of the journey, Darwin had discovered som So this is the foundation of the theory of evolution. No, Darwin was not the first or only one with musings much like the ones described in this book, but he took some other people's theories (incl. that of his own grandfather) and took them further or perfected them. After having spent 5 years on the Beagle and thus seeing all kinds of places, Darwin had returned to England. It would be many years before he published this book but during the last stretch of the journey, Darwin had discovered something along some of the specimen he had collected on the Galápagos Islands. No, it was not his famous finches. Those he had forgotten (or not known) to label, thus no longer knowing which bird came from which of the islands. It was also not the famous tortoises as every single one of the ones taken on board the Beagle had been eaten and the shell been thrown overboard. Luckily, there were still the mockingbirds. And like all animals on the Galápagos, they too were different on every island and he HAD labelled them. Thus, he saw that while they were all mockingbirds, they had slight differences, especially when it came to their beaks, which gave him the idea of them being specialized to the life conditions on their respective island. It was also the Galápagos Islands that gave him the idea of volcanic activity birthing an island. He just didn't know about plate tectonics yet, sadly, as that theory was only established (and proven) about 100 years later. Thus, he talks of evolution as nature's way of selecting traits most suited for whatever life a creature lives. He talks about sexual selection and extinction of animals. Think back to those times: mankind thought themselves the master of the Earth, as God had willed it. God, the omnipotent being, had created all things. Evolution, therefore, was blasphemy as it meant God either at least changing his mind or having made mistakes. You can imagine how some people reacted once this book had been written and published. However, while reading this book, I was delighted to see that Darwin never bashed religious people but simply didn't talk about religion at all. Maybe he had learned not to broach the subject since he was married to a Catholic. *lol* Instead, he simply laid out his theory and his reasons for having established it, giving ample proof while listing the single steps. And whenever there was a gap, he would address it and explain why it was there, what the likely answer was and, again, why. I was astonished and more than pleased to see how he had written this book. Much like in his journal about the voyage on the Beagle, he shows a beautiful writing style and wrote this book not only for scholars but - and this was radical as well - for the layman to understand. A complex and new concept explained in a simple way to make the science accessible. Like when he talked about humans breeding dogs to be of a certain size and character traits or gardeners crossing different flowers to get certain petal shapes and colours. He took Humboldt's "web of life" and transformed it into his famous "tree of life". There were a few minor errors (we know now) but all in all, his logic was sound - only limited, sometimes, by some thing or other that hadn't yet been discovered or explained. My hardcover edition had beautiful illustrations. Some were Darwin's sketches, other were oil paintings of animals he was talking about in the book. However, much like with the other book, there is an audio version narrated by Dawkins that is really very good despite being abridged. Where humankind would be without Darwin and this book, I do not know. We owe Darwin and his work a lot, though, that's for sure.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rafael

    im just rating this 4 stars because of its complexity, but not for the contents of the book, witch can rightfully be called a piece of art, this has to be the most complex read i had in years, it's a beutifully explained book on evoulution of especies by natural and human selection, it is incredibly detail and meticulously explained, for maximum enjoyment you must know selections and natural order to fully understand this book as well as geography and different science studies, the variety of es im just rating this 4 stars because of its complexity, but not for the contents of the book, witch can rightfully be called a piece of art, this has to be the most complex read i had in years, it's a beutifully explained book on evoulution of especies by natural and human selection, it is incredibly detail and meticulously explained, for maximum enjoyment you must know selections and natural order to fully understand this book as well as geography and different science studies, the variety of especies mentioned in this book is very wide and unless you have a picture of each especies or variety you would be fairly lost, this not a book to take easily as i wrongly did at first but it's an stupendous read if you love science, it is very heavy and will challenge you to finish it and is up to you if you do it, for me it is a really complex read but a fulfilling one in the name of science.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Morgan

    I can now truly say that, having read the Origin of Species, I find the theory of evolution to be complete and utter hogwash. Darwin never truly gives an explanation for how microevolution can realistically extrapolated into macroevolution. Also, when he brings up objections against his theory, he gives an elaborate excuse for why he cannot prove his point rather than proving it. I am still a firm believer in Creation. It is a lot more logical than evolution.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Kay Silva

    It took me awhile to drag myself into reading this one. People have always commented that it was so dull and that it was convoluted and hard to follow and I have always believed in evolution and found modern books very accessible on the subject so I thought why bother? Then again I have a thing for classics, and as my list of books on evolution grew I started to chide myself that I still had not even read from Darwin's own hand. So I bent to the grain and pulled it out. This book was nothing lik It took me awhile to drag myself into reading this one. People have always commented that it was so dull and that it was convoluted and hard to follow and I have always believed in evolution and found modern books very accessible on the subject so I thought why bother? Then again I have a thing for classics, and as my list of books on evolution grew I started to chide myself that I still had not even read from Darwin's own hand. So I bent to the grain and pulled it out. This book was nothing like what I expected. Absolutely NOTHING like what I expected. If you read this with an open mind, slowly and take each of his points into consideration you find an absolute flawless logic to his argument. It is well presented and actually I find that compared to many scientific articles it is clearly written for the wider audience. Darwin wants you to get it. He wrote as plainly and carefully as he could. He did not propose his idea half assed or hurriedly. I was floored to find that all of my favorite arguments for evolution came straight from the horses mouth as it were. Darwin got it. He really really got it. He went at it from every angle he could, geological time scales, fossils, birds, plants, animals, interactions, sexual selection, selection on islands, selection in various terrains. He broke it down bit by bit and said: Look guys, I hardly wanted to buy this myself but this is how it is. Just look! See for yourself. Make up your own mind. His methodical manner is hard to shy away from. He did not come up with an idea and let others run with it. He did the research, he talked to people, he took it from all angles and presented it in the clearest manner possible. Yes I have to admit that the writing was a bit dry, but the river of content was overflowing, and the proposal was elegant and clear. What a wonderful contribution. I am honored to have read this work and chide myself yet again for my hesitation.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    With my brand new shiny degree in geology/paleontology, this was the first book I read after commencement. I give it 5 stars for the importance of its text, not for its readability.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kendall

    Finally re-read after decades of good intentions. For a recondite classic it is full of surprises, mostly pleasant; its supposed impenetrability largely confined to parts we already knew were directed at specialists—I admit to slogging through the section on barnacles, for example. But Origins is highly readable, pleasurable even, almost in the way of an Edmund Wilson essay. Darwin proceeds deliberately through the mountain of evidence he collected over twenty years as he constructs a virtually Finally re-read after decades of good intentions. For a recondite classic it is full of surprises, mostly pleasant; its supposed impenetrability largely confined to parts we already knew were directed at specialists—I admit to slogging through the section on barnacles, for example. But Origins is highly readable, pleasurable even, almost in the way of an Edmund Wilson essay. Darwin proceeds deliberately through the mountain of evidence he collected over twenty years as he constructs a virtually unassailable intellectual structure. Freely recognizing arguments against natural selection—the central thread of the book—he gives his best arguments based on the knowledge of his day while carefully pointing out its limitations. I was not prepared for how well he anticipated later discoveries—Mendel’s pioneering work in genetics didn’t see publication until the early 20th century yet dovetails almost seamlessly into Origins exposition, as does the Modern Synthesis. If you’re interested in any of the broad fields of biology-evolution, taxonomy, genetics—The Origin of Species is a must read. If you are a creationist, even in its deceptive guise of intelligent design, you are not intellectually honest if you have not read and honestly come to grips with this book; which gives the lie to the railings of a few misguided Christians and Muslims who seem to think it a product of their devil. Yet, so thoughtful and measured a book makes it clear any devils are in the eye of the beholder.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Shepherd

    "We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be." ~Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D., University of Chicago On the Origin of Species is Darwin laying out his theory of natural selection in precise, laborious detail. He knew quite well many of the objections and arguments this supposition would invoke, and he counters every anticip "We are the one creature to whom natural selection has bequeathed a brain complex enough to comprehend the laws that govern the universe. And we should be proud that we are the only species that has figured out how we came to be." ~Jerry A. Coyne, Ph.D., University of Chicago On the Origin of Species is Darwin laying out his theory of natural selection in precise, laborious detail. He knew quite well many of the objections and arguments this supposition would invoke, and he counters every anticipated antagonism with a barrage of evidence gained from detailed observation and/or astute experimentation. The idea that plant and animal species evolved from common ancestry was an affront to 1859 sensibilities and the courage required to challenge widespread, ingrained superstition and misinformation must have been enormous. And yet, here it is. The imperfect but substantial cornerstone of biology, biochemistry, psychology, genetics, anthropology, neurology, primatology, embryology... the list is immense. "Whoever is led to believe that species are mutable will do good service by conscientiously expressing his conviction; for only thus can the load of prejudice by which this subject is overwhelmed be removed." ~Charles Darwin, 1859

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