Originally named On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, On the Origin of Species, by Charles Darwin, was first published in 1859. This scientific writing, which was considered to be the groundwork of evolutionary biology, presented the theory that species developed over a line of originations through a method of natural selection. It imparted evidence that the variety of life resulted from a common descent via a branching model of evolution. Darwin incorporated facts that he had collected on the Beagle mission in the 1830s and his succeeding findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.
(P)2010 Hudson Audio Publishing
This is the 1859 British edition, and as such it is the second best edition. The 1860 British edition is slightly better in that it contains some insignificant, but non-substantive, corrections. However, the 1860 British edition is probably not available as an audio book. 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.
It is thrilling to consider Darwin's conclusions about life, without the benefit of knowing about DNA, epigenetics, gene linkage, Mendelian genetics, and so on. He was right about so many things.
The pigeons! Just kidding.
He mispronounced so many words that I am embarrassed for him. There are word substitutions that make the somewhat challenging Victorian prose impossible. That someone can get paid for such unprofessional is a disappointment.
Surely there is a better reading of this book out there? Wouldn't it be cool if the most famous biologists would do a recording? One chapter by E. O. Wilson, another by that really nice Darwin scholar/Englishman at Harvard, obviously Dawkins, James Watson...
l'enfer c'est les autres
I've probably listened to and rated over 15 books about evolution over the last two years, but I was always hesitant to read the granddaddy of them all. I should not have been and am glad I did for the following reasons,
1) The book reads as well as any of the good popular science books available on audible. It is written as if his attended audience is for a 13 year old. That's how good of a writer Darwin is.
2) I had obtained a google book version, but couldn't bring myself to read it, and I had obtained a free audio version floating around the net, but this audio version is professionally read and doesn't suffer at all from the narrator.
3) The book lays out a very complicated argument in 13 basically independent chapters. Each chapter by itself is enough to convince the listener of the fact of evolution by natural selection. The author is very smooth at telling you what he's going to tell you, then tell you, and then explain to you what he has just told you.
4) The book is a guidebook on how to lay out an argument and convince others to your viewpoint. He makes sure that he fairly presents criticism that could attack his theory and refutes it masterfully.
5) My favorite reason for having read this book is that my smugness index has gone up. When I come across people who haven't read the book and deny the scientific fact of evolution I can now say that I have listened to the book and smugly add statements like "even a thirteen year old can understand evolution, haven't you even read 'On the Origin of Species'".
Having paid for an audiobook which is in the public domain and can be heard from volunteer readers on the web, I expected a really excellent narrator in this version. I feel quite cheated. The reader is passable when he understands what he is reading, but he is unfamiliar with nineteenth century British English and sometimes trips over things that differ from modern American.
More importantly, he is unfamiliar with biological terminology, which he often mispronounces. I was stimulated to write this review by an outrageous howler (which he did not repeat the next time the word occurred, to give him credit).
He read "quadruped" - not a particularly esoteric word - with two syllables, as "quad-roopt" Goodness knows what he was thinking! "I quadrupe, you quadrupe, he quadrupes. . . " What on earth would that mean?
As for the book itself, it is charming and informative, as I expected. Wish I could say the same for the narrator.
First things first. This book has quite a few charts and pictures that are very handy when reading the paper copy, that just don't translate to a spoken format. It's at best boring and at worst confusing, and I have a degree in biology.
Not to mention, the original published text is over 150 years old. That's some seriously archaic language going on at times. Bill DeWees does a great job enunciating individual words, but the flow of the sentences is missing. The dude sounds like he's reading side effects off the back of a laxative box. Much of the meaning of the book is lost in translation. So just don't bother, and get the abridged copy.
I think the first thing to recognize is all the handicaps Darwin worked under:
Lack of radioactive dating
No knowledge of DNA and only a crude understand of inheritance (genetics)
Limited geologic data (It was a relatively young science)
Limited fossil record (speaking particularly of how much has been discovered and collected since Darwin)
No understand of plate tectonics.
So given all that it's easy to forgive Darwin where he was subsequently found wrong in some detail. I marvel at how rich an understanding genetics existed during the time, without take the next step to understand evolution itself. I also deeply appreciate all the experiments that Darwin tried to best understand how some plants and animals might have migrated to islands, etc.
This is an important book in the history of Science, and is quite wonderful.
I am highly interested in the Evolution topic and got this book to find the solid evidence behind Evolution. I as significantly disapointed.
I found it really really boring, it was a strugle to go through but I persevered.
The ""mountains of evidence" for Macro evolution that I was hoping to find was not there that I could figure out. I went through it a second time, but still I waded through tons of irrelevant detail but no real tangible evidence to prove the key Evolution assertion that our great ..... great grandfather was a self replicating molecule.
This book has significant historical significance - but I will stuffed if I can see why.
Frankly I am amazed how such a lame book has had the influence that it has.
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