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

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Overview

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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Editorial Reviews

SEED Magazine
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.
Choice
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.
BioScience
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, à 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
Evolution Education & Outreach Journal
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
Reports of the National Center for Science Education
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
Metascience
Reznick's metatext [has] intrigue and appeal and provides value-add. Last but not least, worthwhile future research projects include in-depth explorations and comparisons of Reznick's metatext to other recent commentaries (and metatexts) by giants of the Darwin Industry.
— Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther
Victorian Studies
Rzsnick's book is useful in giving lay readers a clear view of the main lines of modern evolutionary biology.
— George Levine
Seed Magazine
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.
BioScience - James T. Costa
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, à 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.
Evolution Education & Outreach Journal - George E. Webb
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.
Reports of the National Center for Science Education - Piers J. Hale
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.
Metascience - Rasmus Gronfeldt Winther
Reznick's metatext [has] intrigue and appeal and provides value-add. Last but not least, worthwhile future research projects include in-depth explorations and comparisons of Reznick's metatext to other recent commentaries (and metatexts) by giants of the Darwin Industry.
Victorian Studies - George Levine
Rzsnick's book is useful in giving lay readers a clear view of the main lines of modern evolutionary biology.
Metascience - Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther
Reznick's metatext [has] intrigue and appeal and provides value-add. Last but not least, worthwhile future research projects include in-depth explorations and comparisons of Reznick's metatext to other recent commentaries (and metatexts) by giants of the Darwin Industry.
From the Publisher

"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 "Books to Read Now"

"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

"Reznick's metatext [has] intrigue and appeal and provides value-add. Last but not least, worthwhile future research projects include in-depth explorations and comparisons of Reznick's metatext to other recent commentaries (and metatexts) by giants of the Darwin Industry."--Rasmus Grnfeldt Winther, Metascience

"Rzsnick's book is useful in giving lay readers a clear view of the main lines of modern evolutionary biology."--George Levine, Victorian Studies

Choice

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.
BioScience

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, à 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
Reports of the National Center for Science Education

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
SEED Magazine

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.
Evolution Education & Outreach Journal

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
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691152578
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/6/2011
  • Pages: 448
  • Sales rank: 1,438,636
  • Product dimensions: 6.22 (w) x 9.18 (h) x 1.08 (d)

Meet the Author


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

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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