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"On the Origin of Species" is one of the most important books ever written. It is the most accessible of revolutionary original scientific works. Galileo's "Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems" is next closest. One might try reading Faraday, but not Newton, Copernicus, Boltzmann, or even Einstein. Darwin intended it as an "Abstract" for a much longer work, but in fact, this abstract needs abridgement. Darwin justifies each assertion with too many detailed examples, complaining all the while about having to omit so much. This interferes with the coherence of his argument for descent with modification by means of natural selection. Thankfully, Richard Dawkins, a celebrated polemicist and author in his own right ("The Selfish Gene," "The God Delusion") has selected out the most important chapters and the most important passages in those chapters, and then he reads them beautifully. One of the most striking revelations is how many of the arguments against his theory Darwin himself anticipated. This is a great way to "read" a book with which every educated person should be familiar.
24 of 24 people found this review helpful
I have attempted to read the original several times. For practical reasons (I have young children) I just never could get through.
This abridgement serves my needs ideally; I did not want to miss any of the salient arguments or data to support them, and I wanted to be sure to understand __in Darwin's words__ what he proposed so that I could better appreciate contemporary refinements.
Superbly narrated by Richard Dawkins. A great joy in every way.
22 of 22 people found this review helpful
2009 is a year where the airwaves are saturated by documentaries about the bicentenary of Darwin's Birth. Combine this with the over-exposure of Richard Dawkins as (arguably) Britons most famous intellectual, and you may see a product that has nothing new to offer and which will not enlighten you afresh.
However, if you haven't read the 'On the Origin of Species', then this audio download is the perfect eye-opener. From the suggestive arguments of the start (artificial selection), through the sweeping poetry of the middle sections, to a prophetic conclusion, the whole of this audio download conveys the argument well making you realize (in the words of the intro) 'how much he got right'.
Blend this with the harmonies of Dawkins' oratory, and you will find a work that is a classic of popular science rendered with high explanatory value by a reader who conveys the meaning of every syllable.
Especially notable sections are where Dawkins reads how '[Natural Selection is] immeasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art' and also the section at the end about 'Light being shed on the origins of man'.
My one quibble with this work is that it is not especially light listening. Although it is well written & read, listening is not the ideal medium for this book (especially when commuting...) However this can be forgiven considering the depth of understanding created by seeing Darwin in the light of one of his modern disciples.
Overall, I am very glad I bought this book and happy to recommend it to all and sundry. Although it was written 150 years ago, and the voice of Dawkins can be found across the internet, the combination of these qualities creates something new of old things. I promise you that, in using this download, far from being bored, you will be moved anew by the power of evolution.
13 of 13 people found this review helpful
A must read for anyone interested in evolution or a good contrast to the few open minded creationists.