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Publisher's Summary

One of the most famous and influential books of its (or any) time, The Origin of Species is, surprisingly, little read. True enough, most people know what it says, or think they do, at any rate. The first comprehensive statement of the theory of natural selection, it does, indeed, provide the basic argument and demonstration of what we think of as Darwinism.

Not quite offering the misleading tautological Spencerian claim of "survival of the fittest", or the claim that man descends from monkeys (a typical perversion of the understanding of natural selection), the book did turn much of the world and how man thinks about it upside down. It is, well more than a century after its first publication, still a powerful and fascinating read.

©1992 Phoenix Recordings; (P)2006 Tantor Media, Inc.

What members say

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  • Overall

I loved it

We've heard it's work of genius, and listening to it shows that that's true.

I really liked the narrator. He's British, the book is British, he obviously cared a lot about what he was doing and practiced before he recorded. Very clear, easy to understand, properly inflected.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Don't knock it till you have read it

A book of scientific observation and research, cannot understand all the fuss. I believe most who comdemn haven't read it.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Suzanne
  • Ames, IA, United States
  • 03-05-08

Case is tedious

I found this book very enlightening and fascinating. However, the narrator sounds pretenious and bored. He emphasis is odd and very hard to listen to. Try for this title if you want a better reading of it.

25 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • Mesa, AZ, United States
  • 03-14-14

Evolve, ubi sunt canes!

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 luck involved. The ground was ready for Darwin's seed. There were enough scholars and scientists and rationalists around to carry his idea(s) hither and thither. So while the book, and Darwin himself, were both stellar examples of scientific restraint, the force of his book can't be under appreciated. It was just the right time and right place for a 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, batches! (I couldn't keep the word I wanted because Audible has a problem with either female dogs or categorical imperatives).

The audio is just ok. David Case, RIP, did a fine job of narration. The audio quality of the digital book just wasn't great. It wasn't pulled from the original master, but from the audio tapes and that is obvious both in its low quality and those few occasions when the audiobook tells you it is time to flip the tape over. Ah, well, at least it didn't talk about rotary phones.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Hansi
  • Brooklet, Georgia, United States
  • 06-03-12

In Defence of a Glorious Narrator

What made the experience of listening to The Origin of Species the most enjoyable?

While some of the other reviews show that the narrator is not universally popular, I could listen to David Case (aka Frederick Davidson) read the London phone book. Darwin's prose is notoriously dry, but read by this narrator listening to the Origin of Species is not only intellectually exciting but an aural delight.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

An Essential Listen

Darwin changed the way we think about the world. Written in the dense, lightly-punctuated style of the nineteenth century, his book is difficult to read. Fortunately, David Case provides the vocal punctuation needed to make this impressive work accessible.

Darwin's central thesis is that "As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be NATURALLY SELECTED. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form."

Charles Darwin argues against the commonly held notion that species were ???individually created??? by pointing to the effectiveness of ???methodical selection??? in modifying plants and animals under domestication. Although nineteenth century scientists knew little about the mechanism of inheritance, they knew one existed and how to use it to select for desirable attributes. Darwin asserts that,
1. In the ???economy of nature,??? all creatures compete for the scarce resources that enable them to survive and procreate.
2. Reproduction introduces small, but random, changes to the traits of individuals.
3. If those random changes are favorable, the individual is more likely to survive and procreate (thereby preserving the change in future generations).
4. Thus, complex changes are due to ???the slow and gradual accumulation of slight, but profitable, variations??? over a very long interval of time.

Although Darwin refers to his book as an ???abstract,??? he provides extensive detailed examples based on his own work and numerous authorities known to him. His refutes numerous arguments against evolution by pointing to the paucity of the geological record and demonstrating the importance of traits that do not appear to be related to survival or procreation.

Although I cannot claim to have followed every strand of his complex reasoning, I am impressed with his comprehensive approach to identifying and addressing potential objections to his theory. I am also impressed with his scrupulous citation of sources from which his data comes.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Ahmed
  • Bloomington, MN, United States
  • 04-17-08

find aother recording

This is a good example of how a great book can be ruined by a narrator. His voice was irritating enough to make me turn it off after one minute every time I tried to listen. Please find another recording.

17 of 23 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

A book best read in print

I have long wanted to read this book. It was on sale on Audible, and I thought the perfect opportunity had arisen.

Although the book is well-written and competently narrated, I found it very difficult to follow in audio. Were I reading a printed copy, I would have turned back to previous pages or chapters to review the information. I also believe a printed copy would have illustrations that added to the written word.

I did learn a lot, but not nearly so much as I am sure there is to learn.

I think this book is best read in print.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tyler
  • Red Deer, AB, Canada
  • 04-02-12

Historically Significant

Charles Darwin's Origin of Species is a little bit outdated; however, it is historically significant in that it is the first work that coins the "theory of evolution".

Although it is not all accurate, it was a stunning piece of work for its time. Any serious Biology enthusiast should read this book, seeing as how all modern evolutionary science references it.

The audiobook is very long, a little dry, and I don't know what version it is either; suffering through the audiobook is better than reading the hard copy though. There is no way around it, push through it, and you'll be glad you did :)

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Matt
  • placentia, CA, USA
  • 07-09-09

great stuff

an amazing book

lots of talk about birds

= )

3 of 6 people found this review helpful