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The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection Paperback – December, 1958

4.3 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Review


"This work is cited in Books for College Libraries, 3d ed. Fisher's original 1930 text is reproduced here in facsimile, including the original preface, table of contents, list of colored plates (here included as black and white) and text. Providing a synthesis of Darwinian selection and Mendelian genetics and marking a turning point in the development of evolutionary thought, this work is one of the most frequently cited references in modern evolutionary biology. Added to the facsimile is a brief foreword about Fisher and the work's reception. An appendix provides an annotated list of other papers on genetical theory by Fisher."--SciTech Book News


--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Fisher-(Deceased) University of Adelaide --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; New edition edition (December 1958)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486604667
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486604664
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,546,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By N. L. Ratterman on November 4, 2010
Format: Paperback
The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection is a classic and should be owned and read by all students of evolutionary theory. The low star rating that I have given is ONLY with respect to the 2010 paperback version.

The copyright for the first edition is expired and the company that published the 2010 version scanned a library copy from the University of Toronto (which is entirely legal, I think). The first page of the scanned reproduction reads "You are holding a reproduction of an original work published before 1923...". This is strange because the title page indicates that the book was written in 1930, which is accurate.

THE PROBLEM: The copy of the book from which the 2010 version was scanned has markings throughout, underlining, comments, and some of the pages are out of order (e.g., page 34 faces page 37).

If you want a "New" copy of the book, I do not recommend buying this version. It is well worth the extra money to get a clean copy, if that's what you're looking for.

I am returning mine.
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Format: Hardcover
The Amazon page on which I am typing this review is illustrated with a cover picture that shows the title as “The Genetical Theory of Natural Selection: A Complete Variorum Edition”, and this is the edition that that I have read. However, Fisher’s book has fallen victim to Amazon’s unfortunate (and incomprehensible) habit of conflating reviews of several different products so that they appear to be just one. I don’t doubt for one moment that the reviewers who complained that they had received a poorly printed and bound scan of the the original edition, complete with underlining made by an unknown person, had legitimate grounds for complaint. If that were the version I had in front of me I would have joined them, but what I actually have is a properly produced book published by Oxford University Press in 1999 (which I bought from amazon.co.uk in 2000). So, if you order this book try to make certain that you are sent the correct version (not necessarily the variorum edition, which shows both the original 1930 text but also has footnotes and appendices indicating the changes made in 1958, as well as a valuable Foreword by J. H. Bennett), but at least a properly produced version of either the 1930 or the 1958 edition.

Having said all that, what of the book itself? Fisher’s view of his subject changed rather little between 1930 and 1958, so although it is interesting to see the changes made it is nowhere near as instructive as a variorum edition of The Origin of Species, where one sees a major development of Darwin’s thought (not necessarily in the right direction, as the later editions show increasing acceptance of the inheritance of acquired characteristics.
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Format: Paperback
Ronald A. Fisher(1890-1962) was an English geneticist, and one of the founders of population genetics. In the Preface to this 1930 book, he states, "The present book, with all the limitations of a first attempt, is at least an attempt to consider the theory of Natural Selection on its own merits." He articulates a number of principles such as, "The rate of increase in fitness of any organism at any time is equal to its genetic variance in fitness at that time."

He states that Natural Selection "affords a rational explanation of structures, reactions and instincts which can be recognized as profitable to their individual possessors. It affords no corresponding explanation for any properties of animals or plants which, without being individually advantageous, are supposed to be of service to the species to which they belong." He further argues, "the widely observed fact that mutations are usually recessive should not lead us to assume that this is true of mutations of a beneficial or neutral character."

However, he also admits, "A mutation, even if favorable, will have only a very small chance of establishing itself in the species if it occurs once only. If its selective advantage is only 1 per cent, it may well have to occur 50 times, but scarcely in mature individuals as many as 250 times before it establishes itself in a sufficient number of individuals for its future prospects to be secure.
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Format: Paperback
The first half of this book gives the mathematics behind the integration of Mendelian Genetics and Darwinian selection theory. Fisher shows that neither make sense without the other, contrary to the opinions of the times which held that Mendel largely superseded Darwin. This is arguably the second most important work on evolutionary biology ever published.

The second half of the book explains and predicts the contemporary Idiocracy. Skip the math, if you must, read this section and have your mind blown.
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