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The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the "Origin of Species"

By: David N Reznick

432 pages, Figs

Princeton University Press

Paperback | Nov 2011 | #192462 | ISBN-13: 9780691152578
Availability: Usually dispatched within 3 days Details
NHBS Price: £23.95 $31/€27 approx
Hardback | Oct 2009 | #180662 | ISBN-13: 9780691129785
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About this book

Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species" is one of the most widely cited books in modern science. Yet tackling this classic can be daunting for students and general readers alike because of Darwin's Victorian prose and the complexity and scope of his ideas. The ""Origin" Then and Now" is a unique guide to Darwin's masterwork, making it accessible to a much wider audience by deconstructing and reorganizing the "Origin" in a way that allows for a clear explanation of its key concepts.

"The Origin" is examined within the historical context in which it was written, and modern examples are used to reveal how this work remains a relevant and living document for today. In this eye-opening and accessible guide, David Reznick shows how many peculiarities of the "Origin" can be explained by the state of science in 1859, helping readers to grasp the true scope of Darwin's departure from the mainstream thinking of his day. He reconciles Darwin's concept of species with our current concept, which has advanced in important ways since Darwin first wrote the "Origin", and he demonstrates why Darwin's theory unifies the biological sciences under a single conceptual framework much as Newton did for physics.

Drawing liberally from the facsimile of the first edition of the "Origin", Reznick enables readers to follow along as Darwin develops his ideas. The ""Origin" Then and Now" is an indispensable primer for anyone seeking to understand Darwin's "Origin of Species" and the ways it has shaped the modern study of evolution.

Reznick ... succeeds where others have failed--instead of annotating the dense, Victorian prose of the Origin or recasting it as a popular narrative, he paraphrases each chapter of the book, adding fascinating elaborations on why Darwin chose a certain phrase, where he turned out to be wrong, and how the intervening 150 years have changed our theories. His account is a welcome tool for those who'd like to hear evolution from Darwin himself but find the master impenetrable. -- SEED Magazine During the past decade, a number of writers have hoped to rectify this situation with books that summarize, modernize, or otherwise elucidate this seminal work of evolutionary biology. Within this growing corpus of 'guides' and 'companions,' this new book by Reznick (Univ. of California, Riverside) occupies a place somewhere between the easygoing narrative of Darwin's Ghost by Steve Jones ... and the scholarly analysis of The Cambridge Companion to the Origin of Species, edited by Michael Ruse and Robert J. Richards... Major post-Darwinian concepts are discussed as needed to explain the modem repercussions of the Origin. Overall, this is a very readable and insightful guide that will provide readers with both the understanding and the motivation to tackle the original. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All levels of academic, public, and professional libraries. -- Choice David Reznick succeeds in producing a highly engaging and informative 'interpretive guide' to the original On the Origin of Species with an approach that will prove quite useful in different ways to different groups of readers. Those who have read Darwin but perhaps lack knowledge of contemporary evolutionary biology will find the case studies, examples, and discussion of modern context highly instructive; modern biologists will gain much insight into the state of evolutionary thinking at its genesis, la Darwin... I join Resnick in hoping that his interpretive guide will inspire readers to pick up the Origin and enjoy Darwin with a whole new level of comprehension and appreciation. -- James T. Costa, BioScience Reznick attempts to recast Origin in a more contemporary and useful form, integrating both new ideas and new data. He accomplishes this goal in an admirable fashion... The Origin Then and Now is a significant book of value to many diverse audiences... We can hope that Reznick's admirable volume will convince his lay audience that not only is Darwin's theory one of the central concepts of science but that it must be included in any worthwhile science curriculum. -- George E. Webb, Evolution Education & Outreach Journal There is clearly a need for the general public to understand what Darwin did or did not say, and Reznick's interpretive guide is a great place to begin... Then and Now is an excellent book. Reznick offers insightful analysis and compelling present-day examples, and is wonderfully readable in the process. -- Piers J. Hale, Reports of the National Center for Science Education


Preface ix Acknowledgments xv Introduction: Charles Darwin and the Origin of Species 3 Michael Ruse Part One: Natural Selection Chapter 1: Preamble to Natural Selection 29 Chapter 2: Variation under Domestication 38 Chapter 3: Variation under Nature I 56 Chapter 4: The Struggle for Existence 66 Chapter 5: Natural Selection I 77 Chapter 6: Laws of Variation 102 Chapter 7: E volution Today: A Modern Perspective on Natural Selection 119 Part Two: Speciation Chapter 8: Preamble to Speciation 137 Chapter 9: Variation under Nature II 152 Chapter 10: Natural Selection II 164 Chapter 11: Hybridism 190 Chapter 12: E volution Today: The Mosquitoes of the London Underground 205 Part Three: Theory Chapter 13: Preamble: What Is a Theory? 219 Chapter 14: Difficulties on Theory 227 Chapter 15: Instinct 250 Chapter 16: Geology I: Background 264 Chapter 17: Geology II: On the Imperfection of the Geological Record 275 Chapter 18: Geology III: On the Geological Succession of Organic Beings 288 Chapter 19: Geology IV: Evolution Today 301 Chapter 20: Geographical Distribution 314 Chapter 21: Geographical Distribution, Continued 331 Chapter 22: Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Organs 346 Chapter 23: Recapitulation and Conclusion 381 Chapter 24: E volution Today: The Witness Has Been Found, Again and Again 401 Illustration Credits 417 Index 419

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David N. Reznick is professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside.

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