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Publisher's Summary

Richard Dawkins, author of The God Delusion and a life-long committed Darwinist, abridges and reads this special audio version of Charles Darwin's famous book. A literally world-changing book, Darwin put forward the anti-religious and scientific idea that humans in fact evolved over millions of generations from animals, starting with fish, all the way up through the ranks to apes, then to our current form.

Dawkin's passion for his subject and hero are clear and exciting for listeners, who, whatever their religious or scientific views, will be intrigued and captivated by this involving production of arguably one of the most important books of all time.

©2006 CSA Telltapes Ltd. (P)2006 CSA Telltapes Ltd.
  • Abridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

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What listeners say about On the Origin of Species

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • M
  • 05-28-09

A Perfect Abridgement

"On the Origin of Species" is one of the most important books ever written. It is the most accessible of revolutionary original scientific works. Galileo's "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" is next closest. One might try reading Faraday, but not Newton, Copernicus, Boltzmann, or even Einstein. Darwin intended it as an "Abstract" for a much longer work, but in fact, this abstract needs abridgement. Darwin justifies each assertion with too many detailed examples, complaining all the while about having to omit so much. This interferes with the coherence of his argument for descent with modification by means of natural selection. Thankfully, Richard Dawkins, a celebrated polemicist and author in his own right ("The Selfish Gene," "The God Delusion") has selected out the most important chapters and the most important passages in those chapters, and then he reads them beautifully. One of the most striking revelations is how many of the arguments against his theory Darwin himself anticipated. This is a great way to "read" a book with which every educated person should be familiar.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very interesting

I haven't read the unabridged version of Darwin's book, so I don't know what was left out, but this abridged version was extremely interesting. Given all the controversy surrounding this book, this was a great way to actually get through the thing without dedicating huge amounts of time to it - and, you'll be the only one in any given conversation that actually read it. That said, whatever your stance on the subject, this book will give you the distinct impression that an immense amount of work went into its writing. He lays out his observations along with the difficulties he had in interpreting the data in an interesting and engaging fashion. His writing style, which is not "I'm exactly right and here's why," is so different from the style of books today that I found it really refreshing. I'm tired of authors glancing over the difficulties in their arguments in their effort to convert you - this book, in contrast, provides reams of data, the problems associated it, and his conclusions as best he could articulate them, while still allowing for error. Good, solid work, regardless of your ideological bent.

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Superbly abridged and superbly read

I have attempted to read the original several times. For practical reasons (I have young children) I just never could get through.

This abridgement serves my needs ideally; I did not want to miss any of the salient arguments or data to support them, and I wanted to be sure to understand __in Darwin's words__ what he proposed so that I could better appreciate contemporary refinements.

Superbly narrated by Richard Dawkins. A great joy in every way.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

So glad I finally read this!

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) 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.

17 people found this helpful

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  • NA
  • 10-16-12

Darwin read by Dawkins...

Where does On the Origin of Species rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Hello! It's Charles Darwin read by Richard Dawkins. If you don't understand how fantastic this is you have a lot of reading to do.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a must listen-so u think u understand evolution

1) Dawkins does a great job.
2) A great way to fill in the gaps of understanding evolution - not a difficult book, but you need undivided attention - Darwin's writing -Extraordinary

10 people found this helpful

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Of historical interest

Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection is, despite its simplicity, one of the most important and consequential scientific theories ever to be formulated. The origin of species is the book in which the concept of natural selection was first introduced. Contrary to popular beliefs, people in Darwin's time (unlike some creationists) did recognize that evolution, that is gradual changes of organisms, did occur. However, no one understood the mechanism responsible for this evolution, and this is where Darwin offered a solution i.e. natural selection.

The book starts out by discussing the role of human selection in the molding of domesticated animals. People had realized that if you want a good milk cow, or a dog that will help you hunt wild animals, then you select parents that possess the traits you desire in the offspring. If you repeat this a few times the traits become more and more pronounced until you have an animal that is specialized for whatever skill you selected for. On his voyage on the HMS Beagle, Darwin realized that such selection is not only done by humans, but also by nature itself. Because there are limited resources in the world and limited number of opportunities to mate with a member of the opposite sex, those individuals that manage to overcome acquire food and mates will become the parents of the next generation and hence their traits will become more pronounced in the population. Selected traits can be anything from aggression, co-operation, large beaks, small beaks, more color, less color etc etc.

The reasoning in this book is straightforward and I don’t understand how any sane person can disagree with the basic argument. However, for the reader who wants to understand evolution I would recommend reading Richard Dawkin’s Selfish Gene rather than the origin of species because it gives you a more complete story and it is also more well written.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

fact

Dawkins choses the best way to abridge this enlightening book. Darwins discovery of the fact of evolution is unfolded to you in an irrefutable that would convince doubters and fascinate anyone who has any intrest in learning our the secrets of life on earth.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

How can this disprove creationism?

The reader is excellent. The content ... May be it was very exciting during its time. The discussion had many good points, mainly about inheritance and co-adaptation as well as struggle for life. Nevertheless it makes some major errors in moving on to re-assert the negation of creation. It didn't explain, as it intended. One cannot say one has explained the existence of number "2" by saying that there was existence of number "1". The book failed in convincing that creationism is wrong. However, it was worthwhile reading for me.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful

Darwin's meticulous work that spanned decades is patiently and humbly summarized in this beautiful book. His writing is charming and careful and the fact that it is fascinating to readers 200 years later is a testament to the man's genius. To hear Richard Dawkins read the words of Darwin is a wonderful thing and makes the experience almost transcendent. It doesn't matter if you understand evolution or not, this book will inform you about how Darwin came to say what he did and hear it in his own words.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Tim
  • 03-05-11

Something Old made Something New

2009 is a year where the airwaves are saturated by documentaries about the bicentenary of Darwin's Birth. Combine this with the over-exposure of Richard Dawkins as (arguably) Britons most famous intellectual, and you may see a product that has nothing new to offer and which will not enlighten you afresh.

However, if you haven't read the 'On the Origin of Species', then this audio download is the perfect eye-opener. From the suggestive arguments of the start (artificial selection), through the sweeping poetry of the middle sections, to a prophetic conclusion, the whole of this audio download conveys the argument well making you realize (in the words of the intro) 'how much he got right'.
Blend this with the harmonies of Dawkins' oratory, and you will find a work that is a classic of popular science rendered with high explanatory value by a reader who conveys the meaning of every syllable.

Especially notable sections are where Dawkins reads how '[Natural Selection is] immeasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art' and also the section at the end about 'Light being shed on the origins of man'.

My one quibble with this work is that it is not especially light listening. Although it is well written & read, listening is not the ideal medium for this book (especially when commuting...) However this can be forgiven considering the depth of understanding created by seeing Darwin in the light of one of his modern disciples.

Overall, I am very glad I bought this book and happy to recommend it to all and sundry. Although it was written 150 years ago, and the voice of Dawkins can be found across the internet, the combination of these qualities creates something new of old things. I promise you that, in using this download, far from being bored, you will be moved anew by the power of evolution.

14 people found this helpful

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  • Yassin Musa
  • 02-27-20

ABSOLUTE TREASURE!

This book is deserve of being the foundation of modern biology thanks you Charles Darwin!

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Nicholas Nell
  • 04-13-19

Fundamental and fascinating

Charles Darwin’s theory is a fascinating grand tour through the genealogy of the natural world and is beautifully set out. The reading and editing by Richard Dawkins is excellent

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mac Man
  • 10-17-21

Very accessible

This was much less dry than I had expected. Very informative of the beginning of what is now a commonplace.

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  • Sterling Ramroach
  • 08-15-21

Yes!

This is now one of my favourite books! Darwin's thoughts are cohesive and coherent

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Martyn Chadwick
  • 07-20-21

Dense, but interesting.

Whether you want or need to listen to The Origin of Species, be prepared for some dense topics to ponder. Overall an interesting and fascinating topic on the development of natural selection.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-07-21

Masterpiece

This book is a must-read/must-listen for every biologist or anyone interested in the science of evolution. Excellent job by the narrator great choice.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 02-26-20

All gratitude to Darwin and Dawkins

Totally wonderful, accessible reading by someone whose own profound understanding of the facts of evolution - and the implications - is second to none. I feel so grateful to have such ease of access to this text and, therefore, to the illumined mind of Darwin himself.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • glen wright
  • 08-21-19

A must read/listen

loved it. great narration too. finished really quickly. wish there was more but in a good way.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Camden
  • 12-14-18

Well abridged

I like that there are so few editors notes as too many would have been annoying. The few "editors notes" that this book does have, don't try to tell me how to interpret Darwin's words, which I appreciate and are actually surprisingly helpful.

I would recommend this to anyone who wants to revise the key points of Darwins theory.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-23-18

Darwin and Dawkins, what’s not to love?

Having Darwins words read in the voice of Dawkins is the perfect way to digest this story of the greatest show on Earth.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Graham
  • 06-23-22

amazing

hearing this masterpiece read so beautifully by Dawkins was a joy, it is surprising modern in style and grand in ambition. one of the most important books ever written. brought to life.

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  • mike Healey
  • 08-17-21

Great book

Wow what a man - inspired by how much he walked through life with his eyes open.

At times challenging to understand with his choice of words

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  • matt r.
  • 03-15-21

Life changing document

Darwin's remarkable, careful observations have changed the world.
Free from the belief that there was a hand that controls all- Darwin has opened our eyes to the true wonder of the forces of nature really are.

Read beautifully by Dawkins- this audiobook is a classic.

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  • Paul Razvan
  • 11-17-20

One of the greatest achievements of human thought.

Great book narrated in an easy listening by Richard Dawkins. It describes how it all fits together in a gargantuan leap of human logic predicting genetics centuries before the discovery of the double helix.

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  • Dr David Abelson
  • 01-06-19

Thank you!

Just a wonderful experience. To see back in time and understand how ground breaking and incredible the theory of evolution was, and is.