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Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of the Species Updated (Darwin tetralogy #1)

3.85  ·  Rating Details  ·  992 Ratings  ·  50 Reviews
Darwin's masterpiece, the most important book of the millennium, is rewritten by a renowned geneticist using fascinating contemporary examples and incorporating the vast amount of scientific knowledge discovered since its publication.
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published April 11th 2000 by Random House (first published January 1st 1999)
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(showing 1-30 of 2,223)
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I really like the idea of Darwin's Ghost, taking and updating Darwin's groundbreaking research, and often showing how relevant it still is, how little of it has actually been disproved. Often people who criticise Darwin haven't actually read On the Origin of Species, and so they have an inaccurate understanding of what he actually said. Steve Jones goes through all of this in quite a lot of detail, giving modern examples and correcting things where Darwin didn't quite get it right.

That thoroughn
May 29, 2011 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such an interesting premise, to take the Origin of Species and update it chapter by chapter with what we know now about evolution. I found Jones' prose a bit awkward, though, and really, really wanted at least some line drawings to further illustrate some of the examples he used (e.g., the land-based predecessor of the whale) -- I was headed to the web quite often to try to picture what he was describing. He gave so many great examples and a good tour through the themes, but I had a tough time w ...more
Meirav Rath
Jan 31, 2008 Meirav Rath rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: evolution fans, ecology fans, nature lovers
Damn wonderful book, honestly. I started reading it a little before the strike ended and was immediately glad for the little treasure box ofchances to refresh last year's ecology and taxonomy material. You'll find everything in Jones' book; ecology, evolution, genetics, microbiology, bacteriology, history, poetry, logic. Jones' style is wonderfully readable and elegantly addictive but most of all, it's simple and informative with a healthy dash of good, sharp humor. With very, very little mindle ...more
Wanda Brenni
Oct 16, 2012 Wanda Brenni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this a fascinating book that took my mind to whole new realms. More than anything, it was the concept of time. I still can't grasp the evoluntary calendar with those beginning that made us: a 100 million years ago (the Archaeopteryx) and then that birds came from the family of dinosaurs to more or less their present state 65 million years ago and that: "Some of the first evidence of our own ancestors is a line of two million year old footprints left as two upright primates strolled acros ...more
Jun 28, 2015 J. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-reads
A tremendous slog. The prose is mind numbing. Writing like this us why people won't read scientific books. Somebody needs to slap the editors for not clarifying the text.
Tina Ambury
Apr 24, 2016 Tina Ambury rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have read the original Origin, The Beagle and The Descent of Man, plus a number of Darwin biographies as Darwin is my all time scientific hero. This book was on my wishlist for Christmas 2014. It sat on my shelf almost a year before I made a determined effort to read it and yet has still taken me 6 months to read. I've read 16 other books so far this year, including Milton's Paradise Lost, in itself a difficult read. Why?
The subject matter is fascinating and the early sections citing HIV as a
SJ Loria
How quickly science evolves. This book was first published in 1999 so I'm reading it 16 years later. It's an update on Darwin's Origin of Species, and what's interesting is that the author follow's Darwin's organizational structure and divides each chapter into the first section, a modern update, and the second, excerpts from the original chapter. It's interesting to see Darwin's writing style, because, let's admit it, very few of us are actually going to sit down and read Origin of Species toda ...more
Septia Kholimatussa'diah
The Origin of Species (TOoS) karya Darwin mungkin salah satu buku legendaris yang "paling kontroversial, paling dikomentari, namun sekaligus paling sedikit dibaca" (ini saya yang menobatkan sih). Buku ini, dari judulnya saja, "Darwin's Ghost: The Origin of Species UPDATED" seharusnya saya sudah bisa menebak (bahwa buku ini) adalah "perpanjangan modern" (nggak tau deh istilah ini tepat atau nggak) dari The Origin of Species-nya Darwin yang asli. Ide ditulisnya buku ini bagus, menulis ulang ToOs D ...more
Jack Dixon
Mar 12, 2014 Jack Dixon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Darwin's Ghost was Darwin's own book updated with new findings and proof of the findings. Evolution is one of many of Darwin's theories, and through his book Origin Of Species , Darwin explained evolution and our journey from single cell organisms, to apes, and finally to the humans we our today. In the updated version, Darwin's Ghost , Steve Jones explains the different stages of evolution and counter theories, as well as the evolution of the theory, on the theory of evolution. He has also co ...more
Erin Pickett
Oct 20, 2012 Erin Pickett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a fantastic way to take the fog out of reading about and understanding Darwin's theories of evolution. a modern take on brilliant (and proven) concepts, using parallels that you can visualize and absorb.
Heather Browning
This was an extremely thorough reworking of the Origin of Species for a modern audience, compiling new evidence to support Darwin's original claims. Although I appreciate what was attempted here, and the amount of material brought together was amazing, overall I found it almost overwhelming, so dense with detail. Also, as someone quite familiar with evolutionary biology, I didn't find anything really new or surprising here. I would recommend it for someone with an interest in evolution who perha ...more
Jan 26, 2014 Travelin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: started
I have long notes filled with disgust for this book. But Steve Jones, a Welshman, seems to have interlided (this is not a word, but I think it should be) any long-lasting science with aphorisms and mock-pessimism.

To be brief, Darwin seems to have oversimplified and missed a great deal. That's partly because he was writing before (modern) genetics. Even though Steve Jones is/was a professor of genetics, my edition of Almost Like a Whale is already outdated, having been written before the Human Ge
Feb 05, 2009 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
In this book, the author (Steve Jones, a leading evolutionary biologist) attempts a re-do of Drawin's Origin of the Species, featuring, in the place of Darwin's material, a summary of some of the more recent evidence of evolutionary biology.

Some of this is very interesting. My favorite is the material on the HIV virus in the Introduction. Jones explains in fascinating detail how HIV has morphed into several different branches, now known as HIV 1-A, 1-B, 1-C 1-D, 1-D, and HIV-2 (with several bran
Monthly Book Group
This is an updating of the "The Origin of Species" by Charles Darwin published in 1859.

The book has a particularly gripping beginning in its sections on the AIDS virus, and on the domestication of animals. The most moving section was that in which he examined how the relics of different species vanish over time, just as the relics of the First World War were already disappearing. This brought into perspective the insignificance of human life “sub specie aeternitatis”.

However, the structure of t
Jun 10, 2011 Reds_reads rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011, biology
This book aims to update Darwin's original and follows the same format - it uses the original chapter titles and structures and Darwin's final summary. The interest for me lay in the details - how evolution created or destroyed particular species or structures or details of the fossil record, rather than the explanation of the theory itself (probably as it is not new to me). This is the area in which this book cannot hope to compete with the original - the ideas are no longer new to readers and ...more
Apr 13, 2013 Aurelien rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, biology
Walking in another author's footsteps is a very shaky approach and, as much as I wanted to like this book I ended up being very disappointed.

First, using the structure and even whole extracts of Darwin's book mixed with his own words, Steve Jones leaves us with the unpleasant feeling of reading here a poor cut-and-paste between two authors having completely different style of writing. Such lack of balance is a killer for the coherence of the whole -try to imagine Darwin struggling to explain hi
Alexandra Barron
May 14, 2016 Alexandra Barron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Great book. An updated version of the Origin of Species based on new science (sort of, the book is a little old now). Jones treats this work with reverence and respect, and does Darwin justice. He keeps that same direct, matter of fact, style of writing that makes the Origin of Species such a striking work of scientific literature. He uses modern examples of research and new scientific knowledge to support and flesh out Darwin's original statements and ideas, from HIV to moths to genetics.
May 09, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a difficult read, hard going at times, but at other times it was insightful and fascinating. The book is a re-write of the Origin of Species, and I think sometimes Steve Jones writes as though he too is a Victorian Scientist. This is supposed to be suitable for the general public yet his language is often waffly and drawn out, making sentences far longer than they need to be. If I hadn't read his other book (In the Blood) I would have thought this was the way Steve Jones writes, but it ...more
Gordon Gatiss
The author attempts to re-write the original Darwin book in his own words. It is a brave narrative. I enjoyed much of the book as I find the whole subject of evolution amazing. Jones’s style of writing is good in the sense that he explains things well, however his writing did not excite me, and I found the book a challenge to finish. Overall, a reasonable book to read if you have not read Darwin, or understood the evolutionary journey. In my view a solid book that explains all the stops on the w ...more
Jun 05, 2012 Pancha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
As the subtitle states, this is an update of Darwin's classic book on evolution. Jones follows the chapter structure of Origins, and often includes Darwin's orignal chapter summations. Overall, very interesting to see how far science has come, where it hasn't advanced much at all, what Darwin predicted correctly, and where his imagination failed. A solid read for those interested in evolutionary science, but possibly not the most engaging read to those whose interest is of a more passing nature.
Enjoyed this book, even if it is from 2000. Still relevant, and not a problem if you've kept up with more recent developments and know what is no longer true. Admittedly, I was having problems at the start of the book; I found the style of writing hard and it seemed like this was going to be a very boring book. But it livened up and I enjoyed the strange bits of trivia that were put n. I had no idea that Apollo Smintheus was the god of mice, but i do now!
Mar 30, 2010 Mag rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A look at The Origin of Species from the vantage point of modern science. Lots of interesting facts, even if some, but not many, slightly dated already- the book was published 10 years ago. All in all, a huge affirmation of Darwin’s work and his achievements.
One complaint. Even though the book is interesting, the style is sometimes convoluted. It doesn’t have the organization, clarity and reading ease of Dawkins’ books.
I "read" this on audiobook -- I'm not sure I'd have had the patience to get all the way through it if I'd read it on paper. However, I was surprised to learn how long the idea of evolution, in some form or another, had been around before Darwin and how many permutations it had gone through. An interesting book, but you have to be ready for a lot of detail!
Feisty Harriet
The first book I read about Darwin and his theories, updating the idea of evolution and moderate and rapid change due to both natural selection and sexual selection using modern examples likes the spread and diversification of viruses and other modern experiments. Read almost a decade ago, this one has stuck with me, for sure.
Bea Alden
Jan 14, 2009 Bea Alden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
An update of the science of Darwin's Origin of Species. Not boring! As The Observer wrote: "A thumping good read!" or The Sunday Times (of London): A richly readable introduction to the science that The Origin of Species invented. Jones is a star writer who makes the old bones throw off their dust and dance the boogie."
Sep 19, 2012 Mick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An easy-to-read science book. Very entertaining and informative. When I had just finished it I had learned what a retro-virus is exactly. But that was 10 years ago, so I've forgotten it now. But it's in this book, together with many other facts and explanations that non-scientist like me can understand.
Jan 17, 2013 Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book to read as an introduction before taking on the long and hard-to-understand Origin of Species. It is very interesting, but I found my thought trailing off a couple of times. Reading scientific books does that. But this book was good, a modern and shortened version. Still worth looking into.
Aug 24, 2009 Bernie_dunham rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: My daughters, son-in-laws, and wife.
Steve Jones assumes the role of a modern Charles Darwin updating "The Origin of Species," which Darwin updated in six editions during his lifetime. Jones, who follows every chapter of Darwins original book, adds a new chapter, "Interlude: Almost Like a Whale," just before the final chapter.
Kirsty Darbyshire

Absolutley fabulous book covering everything about how we know evolution is what actually happened; just brilliant, took me forever and a day to read it but it was never a slow read, just thick and dense with fascinating facts and explanations. Highly recommended.

Oct 08, 2008 Galen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a really good read that brought out the interesting aspects of evolutional biology, made it very easy to understand. It also brought to light strange species of animals like the chevrotain, which was a lot of fun to read about.
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Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

John Stephen Jones is a Welsh geneticist and from 1995 to 1999 and 2008 to June 2010 was Head of the Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment at University College London. His studies are conducted in the Galton Laboratory. He is also a television presenter and a prize-winning author on the subject of
More about Steve Jones...

Other Books in the Series

Darwin tetralogy (4 books)
  • Y: The Descent of Men
  • Coral: A Pessimist In Paradise
  • Darwin's Island: The Galapagos in the Garden of England

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“Too often, the notion of progress is used as a code word for perfection, the chain of being in a different guise. The term should be employed with caution. Some see an arrow of time in biology, as in physics, but in the opposite direction- a relentless tendency to improve, just as a universe has a built-in trend towards chaos and disorder. That is too optimistic. Some lineages get more complicated, some simpler, and much of life has to struggle to stay in the same place. If everyone is evolving, nobody can afford to stop, and there may be constant change with no overall advance at all. ” 2 likes
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