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On the Origin of Species: By Means of Natural Selection (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – June 23, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0486450063 ISBN-10: 0486450066

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (June 23, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486450066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486450063
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Charles Darwin was born in England in 1809 and attended the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. When he decided against that vocation, he enrolled at Cambridge where he earned a degree in theology. During an expedition to Africa and South America, Darwin continued his studies in natural science and began writing about his theories of natural selection. His work led to the publication of On the Origin of Species, a book that changed the world.

Charles Darwin: Original Thinking
Each generation of students comes to Darwin's epoch-making works, several of which are the basis of our publishing program in biology and related fields: The Essential Darwin, 2006; The Descent of Man, 2010; The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, 2006; and On the Origin of the Species, 2006.

In the Author's Own Words:

"A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there."

"I feel most deeply that this whole question of Creation is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton! Let each man hope and believe what he can."

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

"Man with all his noble qualities, with sympathy which feels for the most debased, with benevolence which extends not only to other men but to the humblest living creature, with his god-like intellect which has penetrated into the movements and constitution of the solar system — with all these exalted powers — Man still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." — Charles Darwin




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Customer Reviews

This is a great book for listening.
Winston Smith
I also wanted to read it as a curious historical document because most people with an interest in science know much more about this idea than Darwin ever did.
cassdog
It is very readable for such an important scientific work.
Russell C. Smith

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By bernie HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a quick review of the book not a dissertation on Darwin or any other subject loosely related. At first I did not know what to expect. I already read " The Voyage of the Beagle: Charles Darwin's Journal of Researches". I figured the book would be similar. However I found "Origin" to be more complex and detailed.

Taking in account that recent pieces of knowledge were not available to Charles Darwin this book could have been written last week. Having to look from the outside without the knowledge of DNA or Plate Tectonics, he pretty much nailed how the environment and crossbreeding would have an effect on natural selection. Speaking of natural selection, I thought his was going to be some great insight to a new concept. All it means is that species are not being mucked around by man (artificial selection).

If you picked up Time magazine today you would find all the things that Charles said would be near impossible to find or do. Yet he predicted that it is doable in theory. With an imperfect geological record many things he was not able to find at the writing of this book have been found (according to the possibilities described in the book.)

The only draw back to the book was his constant apologizing. If he had more time and space he could prove this and that. Or it looks like this but who can say at this time. Or the same evidence can be interpreted 180 degrees different.

In the end it is worth reading and you will never look at life the same way again.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Russell C. Smith on February 26, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a classic. It is very readable for such an important scientific work. Many people think they know what this book says, but they settle for second hand information--usually incomplete and sometimes just wrong. This book should be read by anyone interested in science, education, religion and planet Earth.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Charlotte A. Hu on March 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
This text, the subject of so much political and social controversy in the U.S., is actually just a nice read. First, and in surprising contradiction to all the God versus science panic, he presumes an "act of creation," which to me, implies that his theory is based on the idea of a Creator.

Here are a few quotes from Chapter Two in which he discusses acts of creation:

[...]

No one definition has satisfied all naturalists; yet every naturalist knows vaguely what he means when he speaks of a species. Generally the term includes the unknown element of a distinct act of creation.
The term species thus comes to be a mere useless abstraction, implying and assuming a separate act of creation.

On the other hand, if we look at each species as a special act of creation, there is no apparent reason why more varieties should occur in a group having many species, than in one having few.

He then spends considerable time discussing and thinking about the anomalies in domesticated animals. The domesticated duck, for example, has larger leg bones and smaller wing bones, which he attributes to more time spent walking and less spent flying. He notes that many domesticated animals develop, over numerous generations floppy ears, which he speculates is to due to loss of musculature from attention to potential dangers -- a skill domesticated, human-protected animals no longer require.

There are anomalies among domesticated animals because in his day, there was a theory that left without interference from breeders, animals would "revert" to their "pure" ... presumably original created forms. Of course, Darwin observes that this isn't true and that one can observe that a continuation of development of various different attributes is normal.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By S. Plowright on February 15, 2009
Format: Paperback
If you are looking for an excellent example of science writing, this book is one of the best.

Darwin's reasoning and evidence are put forward in a careful and structured way, always in plain yet descriptive English, and with a respectful humility that has never been shown by his detractors.

Darwin knew that his ideas would cause dissent, and took great pains to anticipate every objection. Almost reluctantly, he comes to the only conclusion he can, and puts truth above the tired superstitions derived from too literal an interpretation of Holy Writ.

Even the Catholic Church has come to find peace with him, after a mere 150 years (half the time it took for them to forgive Galileo). Among modern nations, only America seems to have a significant number of people who still think Darwin's ideas are "controversial". Hopefully the new president will be able to improve education and science literacy.

And that is another good reason to own the book. Many of the anti-Darwin arguments are against claims that he never actually made.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Don Jennings on March 25, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had never read this before. Darwin's rationale for devising the theory of natural selection is a masterpiece of logical thought applied to data.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By cassdog on October 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
I mostly read this book because this year was Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of this great book and idea. I also wanted to read it as a curious historical document because most people with an interest in science know much more about this idea than Darwin ever did. But to understand how Darwin came up with this amazing theory, would be fascinating enough to justify the read. Having said that, one of the fascinating things is how many of the difficult details Darwin got right. It is fascinating to read the work of a true scientist and great naturalist. A man who presented a controversial idea backed by evidence and then who proceeds to refute the arguments of inevitable but imaginary objectors. This is the work of a sharp mind.
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