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

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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.

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From the Back Cover:

"For those about to read the Origin of Species for the first time, or for those about to read it yet again, David Reznick has provided a marvelous guide. He looks to the past so that readers can understand the history of Darwin's great book, but he also looks to the future, showing how, chapter by chapter, the Origin set the ground rules for modern biology."--Carl Zimmer, author of The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution and A Planet of Viruses

"This is a beautiful book--the best book I have ever read dealing with the Origin. It will move many people, experts and lay readers alike."--Lee Alan Dugatkin, author of Principles of Animal Behavior

"The "Origin" Then and Now has made the wealth of information held within Darwin's opus many times more accessible. This book is unquestionably essential reading for students and others approaching the Origin for the first time. It should be terrifically useful to anyone with an interest in understanding one of the most important books in intellectual history."--Kurt Schwenk, University of Connecticut

"David Reznick's elegantly written introduction to evolution is magnificent. It should be highly recommended reading for any course on evolution or Darwin, and I will recommend it to scientists and nonscientists alike."--Francisco J. Ayala, University of California, Irvine, author of Darwin's Gift to Science and Religion

"While most treatments of the Origin of Species set the book in the context of its time, this elegant account sets the book in the context of its science. By explaining Victorian science and showing how modern scientific discoveries illuminate Darwin's ideas, Reznick demonstrates just how revolutionary and brilliant the Origin was. Engaging, scholarly, and insightful, this is the essential companion to the Origin."--Joseph Travis, Florida State University

"Reznick masterfully highlights one of the most important, but commonly overlooked, aspects of the Origin--its scholarly approach to the theory of evolution, encompassing expertise from geology and natural history to embryology. Exceptionally well-written and comprehensive, and full of fascinating historical and cultural accounts of major biological discoveries, Reznick's book is itself a perfect illustration of the timeless qualities of scientific rigor and scholarship that were so crucial to Darwin's theory."--Alexander V. Badyaev, University of Arizona

"Reznick cogently argues that Darwin's seminal book holds more than historical interest; it is as relevant today as it was in 1859. The 'Origin' Then and Now provides an accessible way to enjoy the totality of Darwin's thesis."--Kenneth Dial, University of Montana

About the Author:

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

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