The Origin of Species
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The Origin of Species

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  39,640 ratings  ·  1,088 reviews
The classic that exploded into public controversy, revolutionized the course of science, and continues to transform our views of the world in a new millenium.

Paperback, 576 pages
Published September 2nd 2003 by Signet Classics (first published 1859)
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Sep 14, 2007 Pam rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: anyone with an open mind
Shelves: purchase
such a freakin' genius! and the sadest part is, that his "science" literally killed him. if you've read a lot in Darwin (as I have) you come to understand that as a religious man, his studies seriously conflicted with his beliefs. I hate it when I hear someone say that Darwin says, "we come from monkeys." because that is not the case.

his theory is on EVOLUTION, not monkeys. all he wanted people to understand was adaptation and survival of the fittest is really a simple concept, and daily life- p...more
Stephen M
Edits for NR because I love him that much.

"This preservation of favourable variations and the rejection of injurious variations, I call Natural Selection. Variations neither useful not injurious would not be affected by natural selection, and would be left a fluctuating element, as perhaps we see in the species called polymorphic.

"We shall best understand the probable course of natural selection by taking the case of a country undergoing some physical change, for instance, of climate. The...more
Dear Carol,

Thank you for your mail, and of course I remember meeting you on the flight last month! It was a very interesting discussion and I'm still thinking about it. The semester has now started here at Creationist U and I am working hard, but I found time to read the book you recommended. And I'm glad I did, because it was really a lot better than I thought it would be.

I guess I was expecting Darwin to be like Richard Dawkins, but he was respectful of religious ideas. And it was great that h...more
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Decry or applaud it, there's no question this work has had a profound effect not just on science, but the culture at large. What I wouldn't read this book for is the science, or in an effort to either defend or refute the argument for evolution. The core of Darwin's argument certainly is still what was taught in my Catholic high school biology class (taught by a nun). In a nutshell, the theory is that given there are wide-ranging subtle Variations among organisms, the Malthusian Struggle for Exi...more
Are you an Evangelical Christian? Or, perhaps you are a student participating in one of nation's modern and progressive science classes, learning about the Origins of Man, but confused by the lack of scientifically observable studies missing from your text books. Fortunately for you, Darwin spent decades of his life documenting the observable changes in various species, hypothesizing about these changes and drawing some interesting conclusions about his life's work.
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...more
Cora Judd
May 24, 2009 Cora Judd rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone looking for a delightful surprise in one of those innumerable books they "ought to" read.
Richard Dawkins' narration of this book is excellent -- I enjoyed it immensely, however, without my semester of physical anthropology, the essential points would have required much more mental attention.

Dawkins inserts clarifying information throughout the book and while Darwin's writing is wonderfully clear, I think more of Dawkins' notes and updates would have been an enhancement.

I was surprised to see how diverse Darwin's background research was and how elegantly he wrote. He anticipated cou...more
Having finished Origin, I am taking the liberty of adding a few comments at the top of what I posted when I first added it to my "currently-reading shelf."

To the would-be classics reader who is a bit daunted at the notion of tackling a fourteen chapter science book written in 19th Century technical terms I offer the suggestion that the back half of Origin is purely optional and can be let go. The first six chapters are the most enjoyable. Four is the big one, where Darwin presents the big pitch...more
I swear I cannot figure what all the fuss is about. This is a science book. It was sometimes a bit tough to read because of the depth into detail. If I were an anthropologist I'm sure I would more appreciate that detail, but as a layman it did at times seem too thick.

If I were lost in an uncivilized world and had only two books, I would want a Webster's dictionary and this Origin of Species. The dictionary to learn word definitions and this book to learn about the flora and fauna around me. For...more
What in the world made me want to read this Goliath of a science book? My goodness! I guess if I had to search deep within myself I would have to say I wanted to read anything Darwin, just to see what all the fuss was about, but mostly because of the reviews I read on Goodreads. I thought The Origin of Species would turn me into the science-loving person I always thought lurked inside me.
The main reason I finished it is because any science book that has had this much publicity deserves to be rea...more
3.0 to 3.5 stars. Not anything like what I would call a "fun" read, but I am really happy that I finally read this book given the tremendous influence it has had on the history on modern scientific thinking. The book itself, while dry, is fairly accessible and is not bogged down with overly complex scientific jargon. I would read a couple of chapters a day in between my "pleasure" reading and it made the book much easier to absorb. Definitely worth reading.
With my brand new shiny degree in geology/paleontology, this was the first book I read after commencement. I give it 5 stars for the importance of its text, not for its readability.
Jan 24, 2009 Kendall rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Scientists, creationists, intelligent desginers, everybody else
Recommended to Kendall by: My mother, who thought it was from the devil
Finally re-read after decades of good intentions. For a recondite classic it is full of surprises, mostly pleasant; its supposed impenetrability largely confined to parts we already knew were directed at specialists—I admit to slogging through the section on barnacles, for example. But Origins is highly readable, pleasurable even, almost in the way of an Edmund Wilson essay. Darwin proceeds deliberately through the mountain of evidence he collected over twenty years as he constructs a virtually...more
Clif Hostetler
My book group selected this book for discussion probably because of the historic impact it has had on the field of science. However, I found it to be very worthy of respect from a literary viewpoint. Charles Darwin's writing comes across as a methodical thinker and patient explainer to many recalcitrant readers who are determined not to believe a word he says. He had me convinced after only a couple dozen pages, but he kept doing what seemed to me to be piling on observation after observation, e...more
My science education left a lot to be desired. I was never taught the Theory of Natural Selection in school but only heard it mentioned when some adults scoffed at it. Thankfully, my natural talents steered me away from a career in Biology or Genetics, so this lack of knowledge didn’t affect my career prospects. It just affected my understanding of the world.

I learned years later the basics of the theory but this just piqued my interest about reading the actual book. I always have problems with...more
Yes, I just marked it as read so I could put it on my "needs-to-be-burned" shelf.

Did you know…
1. Spontaneous generation was finally disproved in multiple ways, and this book was published in the same year that Louis Pasteur performed his famous S-shaped flask experiment, demonstrating that life cannot pop out of nowhere.
2. The THEORY of use and disuse is false; no matter how much someone physically changes during their lifetime, their offspring will not inherit these qualities, because the repro...more
Where importance of its content is concerned, five stars aren't enough. It would have to be included on any short list of 'classics of science'. I have docked a star to reflect the fact that it's not always easy reading - there's that verbose quality to its style that characterizes most writing from the Victorian era.

That said, I should point out that "The Origin of Species" is completely understandable to any general reader willing to give it a careful reading. You don't have to be a biologist...more
Cassandra Silva
It took me awhile to drag myself into reading this one. People have always commented that it was so dull and that it was convoluted and hard to follow and I have always believed in evolution and found modern books very accessible on the subject so I thought why bother? Then again I have a thing for classics, and as my list of books on evolution grew I started to chide myself that I still had not even read from Darwin's own hand. So I bent to the grain and pulled it out. This book was nothing lik...more
Stu Minnis
I finally did something I've been meaning to do for a long while; I read "On the Origin of Species." And I'm incredibly glad I did. It seems silly to give a "review" of such a book, but I wanted to make a quick note on one thing about it that struck me repeatedly while reading it. I have read lots of books on natural history and evolution, and it's been a topic of fascination to me since I was relatively young. Such books often make a point of defending evolutionary theory from doubters (i.e., c...more
Darwin's The Origin of Species is the best eye-opener for people who want to understand the theory of evolution. With the current paradigm of creationism and its argument against evolution, it is the best book to refer too. Darwin's theory is very strong and realistic and can be easily related to today's universe.
Sudah lama saya ingin membaca buku ini, salah satu buku paling berpengaruh yang pernah ditulis dalam sejarah peradaban manusia. Secara kebetulan, saya menemukannya di toko buku, namun yang saya dapatkan adalah edisi terjemahan bahasa Indonesianya yang diterbitkan oleh Yayasan Obor Indonesia. Di bagian awal pembuka, tim penerjemahnya sendiri sudah mengungkapkan bahwa begitu rumitnya menerjemahkan kalimat bahasa Inggris era Victoria ke dalam kalimat bahasa Indonesia yang mudah dipahami tanpa mengu...more
David S. T.
I figured while I was on my evolution book kick, I might as well go back to the original (well sort of the original, Alfred Russel Wallace published a paper on natural selection which prompted Darwin to publish this “abstract”). Now that I'm finished I feel two different ways about the book, a loved yet bored type of feeling. First I'm amazed at just how much of Darwin's theories and ideas are accurate and accepted even today 150 years later (which is a pretty darn long time in science). One thi...more
It seems that every discussion of the evolution of evolution starts with that poor wrong-headed Lamarck and his idea of the inheritance of acquired characteristics. What a dummy! He thought Giraffe's necks got longer because each generation kept straining to reach ever higher leaves. Well, Darwin thought the same thing. In a section called Use and Disuse he says, "I think there can be little doubt that use in our domestic animals strengthens and enlarges certain parts, and disuse diminishes them...more

I can't imagine anything less necessary than writing a capsule review of the Origin of Species, but... it's a really great read. Darwin was unusually reflexive and tempered in his writing, probably owing at least in part to the heavy disapproval he know he would encounter from everyone from the clergy to other scientists, but props to him for writing in a way that is at once confident and humble. Reading this after Feyerabend's Against Method, the major thing I took away from it was that science...more
I listened to an abridged audio version of this book and it was enough for me to get the point. This isn't the devil book that many people want it to be. Darwin doesn't spend much time on the theological implications of his theory. He is on a mission to present evidence of his theory.

What I wasn't expecting was how often he talked about the alternate theory of "creation," which has little to do with the biblical passages in Genesis and everything to do with the idea of spontaneous generation of...more
To be completely honest, I wanted the notch on my belt for this one. Which didn’t hinder it one bit from being so genuinely not-dry and engrossing and arresting to read. No wonder Darwin set the world on edge in the most damning way possible, quietly and thoughtfully with these soft-spoken facts.
This 150th Anniversary Edition of Origin of Species has an introduction by Ray Comfort. They gave this book away for free on college campuses around the US in 2009. The introduction explains that evolution has no support, brainwashes people, and is connected to Adolf Hitler.
Grant Holyoak
My favorite quote in relation to this book, and one that I feel serves as a review in and of itself, is: "Every educated person owes it to themselves to read The Origin of Species." After reading it, I whole-heartedly agree with the statement. Only when one reads Darwin's perspective on such topics as breeding, domestic speciation, migration, instinct, etc. does one come to fully realize how much this book ushered in a new age of modern thought. The Theory of Evolution is so pervasive in the min...more
While this is obviously a hugely important piece of work that had major implications for evolutionary theory, ecology, and eventually genetics, it's one of the most dully written things I've come across. When he talks about the theory itself it's fine, but he spends so much time explaining things like pigeon coloring, and plant stamens, that I found myself throwing it down from sheer boredom. I was surprised by how tame the text was considering the firestorm of bullshit that asshole creationists...more
Dmitry Belyavsky
Several aspects of the book surprised and delighted me.
I didn't expect this to read as a novel, and it was not one, this was a philosophical thesis, and the result of some 30 years of research and contemplation which has not gone to waste.

As a non-native English speaker I expected this to be a upstream struggle in comprehension - it was not. The language is only slightly archaic but overall is surprisingly down to earth once I got used to the style of the narrative.

The logic and the examples use...more
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Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, eminent as a collector and geologist, who proposed and provided scientific evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common ancestors through the process he called natural selection. The fact that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural selec...more
More about Charles Darwin...
Voyage of the Beagle The Descent of Man The Autobiography of Charles Darwin, 1809–82 On Natural Selection The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals

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“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.” 236 likes
“Multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.” 28 likes
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