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On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: or the Preservation of Favoured Races in The Struggle for Life (First Edition) Paperback – November 24, 1859
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About the Author
Charles Darwin was an English naturalist and author best-known for his revolutionary theories on the origin of species, human evolution, and natural selection. A life-long interest in the natural world led Darwin to neglect his medical studies and instead embark on a five-year scientific voyage on the HMS Beagle, where he established his reputation as a geologist and gathered much of the evidence that fuelled his later theories.A prolific writer, Darwin s most famous published works include The Voyage of the Beagle, On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals. Darwin died in 1882, and in recognition of his contributions to science, is buried in Westminster Abbey along with John Herschel and Isaac Newton.
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The main text is Darwin's 6th Edition.
Darwin considerably amended Origin of Species through the course of its six editions. For example he first used the expression "survival of the fittest" (coined by Herbert Spencer) in the 5th edition and he first used the term "evolution" in the 6th edition. However, he also diluted some of his arguments in an attempt to deflect criticism. Most notably he made more allowance for now discredited Lamarckian ideas of hereditable affects of use and disuse, versus pure natural selection.
It is an open argument whether the 1st edition or the 6th edition best represents his real thinking. My 2 cents would be that the differences are relatively minor in the context of the overall work. The key driving ideas are well expressed in both and either is a fine start. Just be aware that other readers of Origin of Species may have seen a slightly different text!
For me, everything he explains about descent through modification and rudimentary organs and common ancestors not only makes sense but is corroborated by the principles of Biology concerning classification and evolution.
Darwin, contrary to how creationists reacted and are still reacting towards him, does not confront the idea of "God created everything out of nothing" and dismisses it as nonsense (except maybe a little towards the end, when he writes "Do they really believe that atoms have been commanded suddenly to flash into living tissues?"). He takes more of a perplexed approach and doesn't seem to understand why they can't look at the facts.
*** A note on the free Kindle edition: it does seem abridged and does not include the chart that the author refers to on several occasions but the gist of natural selection is in here***
Several book publishers have approached this book with fresh eyes (most recently, David Quammen). The approach makes perfect sense: take Darwin's text, and add illustrations that demonstrate Darwin's ideas in a visual format hat the author could only imagine. The disadvantage with this, of course, is that you may come closer to a coffee table book than anything else. But the "Illustrated Classics" version contains some period pictures, biological illustrations, and the like in something that comes closer to a mixed salad than a meal. For such a great price, it's a pretty good bargain; but this gathers together a variety of inexpensive and public access images that's more appealing than raw text - but some readers may want more.
I love "On the Origin of Species," but I only wish the "Illustrated Classics" version could be more compelling.