The Annotated Origin: A Facsimile of the First Edition of On the Origin of Species

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Overview

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is the most important and yet least read scientific work in the history of science. Now James T. Costa—experienced field biologist, theorist on the evolution of insect sociality, and passionate advocate for teaching Darwin with Darwin in a society where a significant proportion of adults believe that life on earth has been created in its present form within the last 10,000 years—has given a new voice to this epochal work. By leading readers line by line through the Origin, Costa brings evolution’s foundational text to life for a new generation.

The Annotated Origin is the edition of Darwin’s masterwork used in Costa’s course at Western Carolina University and in Harvard’s Darwin Summer Course at Oxford. A facsimile of the first edition of 1859 is accompanied by Costa’s extensive marginal annotations, drawing on his extensive experience with Darwin’s ideas in the field, lab, and classroom. This edition makes available an accessible, useful, and practical resource for anyone reading the Origin for the first time or for those who want to reread it with the insights and perspective that a working biologist can provide.

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Editorial Reviews

BioScience
The Annotated Origin should be on the shelf of every practitioner of the life sciences. James T. Costa has rendered a valuable service to the profession by making the single most influential work in the history of biology both accessible and relevant to modern readers. Costa is aware that most students of biological science have at best merely glanced at Darwin's great book, but certainly have never read it through. By making visible what he calls the breathtaking sweep of Darwin's method, he has made a compelling argument for taking a page from Darwin's playbook in making the case for biological evolution...Darwin has sometimes been portrayed as a plodding scientist, a good observer whose second-rate status is masked by the pregnancy of the grand idea he stumbled upon. Costa's work is a wonderful refutation of this portrait. No one who follows Costa through The Annotated Origin can possibly doubt Darwin's exceptional stature. There is no better tribute he could have made for this celebration of Darwin's 200th birthday and the 150th anniversary of the publication of his masterpiece.
— Frederick Gregory
Choice
Costa has placed a facsimile of the first edition of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species side-by-side with a thorough page-by-page commentary. He applies his considerable experience as a field biologist in addressing critical passages in Darwin's work. Previous efforts to annotate important books concentrated mainly on works of literature, but this effort examines one of the most important books in the history of science...Costa's annotations provide enormously helpful information about all of Darwin's editions of the Origin, and students from all levels of the natural sciences and the history of science will welcome this work.
— J. S. Schwartz
Education Digest
Everyone knows about [On the Origin of Species], but I venture to guess that few non-scholars have actually read it. Now, along comes James T. Costa with this facsimile. The index to the new edition, and especially Costa's wonderful annotations, make this classic text not only approachable, but positively inviting...Biologists will probably enjoy this book, but it is a particular gift to laypeople, especially to biology teachers. They can take excerpts from the book into their classes and show their students how Charles Darwin arrived at his insightful and revolutionizing idea.
— Dudley Barlow
evolutionlist.blogspot.com
Ably edited by James Costa, The Annotated Origin contains many of the annotations that the original Origin of Species lacked, and provides the reader with a comprehensive grounding in the natural history that Darwin marshaled in support of his revolutionary theory.
— Allen MacNeill
New York Review of Books
Clearly worth attention...Costa makes use of his experience as a field naturalist and his knowledge of the modern literature of evolutionary biology to illumine many passages in Darwin's work.
— Richard C. Lewontin
openlettersmothly.com
It's entirely possible--I think it's likely--that when the overwhelming and heartwarming cascade of attention to the 2009 anniversary of Darwin's 1809 birth and 1859 publication of On the Origin of Species has at last subsided, the palm for Best in Show will go to James Costa's beautifully-produced and scrupulously, joyously annotated version of the Origin. The idea is so simple that it flies considerably below the fray of mammoth biographies and shrill pie-fights with the so-called "New Atheists": take the text of one of the most seminal and subversive books ever written, and add a thoroughly informed and entertaining running commentary. This is exactly what Costa does, and it bears all the marks of being a labor of love...This is the finest book of its kind ever produced. It should tide you over quite well until 2059.
— Steve Donoghue
Ottawa Citizen
I should like to recommend the best, and most informative book to emerge from the [Darwin Year] extravaganza. It merits reading with complete attention, for it is also a fairly honest book, presenting Darwin in his historical context, and in the evolution of his own thinking, while drawing lines of connection, wherever they can be found, between the original insights and the best lab and field work of "neo-Darwinism" today. The book is by James T. Costa, entitled The Annotated Origin. The first edition of Origin of Species is reprinted on wide pages with annotations down the outside columns. There are supplementary aids, including an excellent biographical directory of Darwin's predecessors and contemporaries. No one seriously interested in Darwinian phenomena should dare not to buy this book.
— David Warren
Publishers Weekly

Costa, professor of biology at Western Carolina University, does a wonderful job of annotating Darwin's groundbreaking classic On the Origin of Species.In more than 900 notes, he explains, expands, contextualizes and updates much of what Darwin had to say about evolution and its causes. For example, throughout the Origin, Darwin briefly referenced many informants; Costa provides background information on each of those individuals. He also directs readers to places in Darwin's earlier writings that presage points made in the Origin. When discussing what Darwin terms "[o]rgans of extreme perfection and complication," he focused on the evolution of the vertebrate eye. Costa explains the logic Darwin used and how modern biological studies have supported Darwin's contentions, concluding that his "insight underlies modern phylogenetic reconstruction." In a brief "Coda," Costa summarizes the changes Darwin made to the Origin in its six editions and the reasons for them. Costa's thoughtful and informative notes enable readers to gain a much fuller appreciation for Darwin's genius and breadth of knowledge-a fine tribute in the great scientist's bicentennial year. (May)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674032811
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 5/30/2009
  • Edition description: A Facsimile of the First Edition
  • Pages: 576
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Charles Darwin

James T. Costa is Executive Director of the Highlands Biological Station and is Professor of Biology at Western Carolina University.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      February 12, 1809
    2. Place of Birth:
      Shrewsbury, England
    1. Date of Death:
      April 19, 1882
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England
    1. Education:
      B.A. in Theology, Christ’s College, Cambridge University, 1831

Table of Contents


  • Introduction

  • On the Origin of Species

  • Coda: The Origin Evolving

  • References

  • Biographical Notes

  • Acknowledgments

  • Subject Index

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