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Summary

Perhaps the most influential science book ever written, On the Origin of Species has continued to fascinate for more than a century after its initial publication. Its controversial theory that populations evolve and adapt through a process known as natural selection led to heated scientific, philosophical, and religious debate, revolutionizing every discipline in its wake. With its clear, concise, and surprisingly enjoyable prose, On the Origin of Species is both captivating and edifying.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

Public Domain (P)2016 Naxos AudioBooks

What listeners say about On the Origin of Species

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Excellently read

An excellently read edition: Wickham is clear, emotive, authoritative, & reads without (so far as I could tell, & which is nigh unheard of) a single pronunciational, grammatical-misreading, or intonal error.

On the text itself, it's worth noting that this recording is from Darwin's heavily revised 1872 edition of On the Origin of Species, which is the sixth version of the text first published in 1859: The text is therefore quite a lot longer than one might expect, & filled not only with explanation of the theory but with long sections which dispute with or refer to the work of nineteenth-century naturalists with whom the general reader is unlikely to be familiar. This makes this version somewhat more foreign to the modern reader, but also gives space for Darwin to work at a greater depth on certain matters, which is very helpful to one trying to understand the complexities of the theory as he proposed it.

19 people found this helpful

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A brilliant concept, A brilliant book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would (and have) recommended this book to many. I believe this book to be the pinnacle of the progressive, scientific way of thinking. Though dated (both in content and in language used), this book holds great scientific and historical importance.

What other book might you compare On the Origin of Species to, and why?

A lot of Richard Dawkins' writing, primarily the selfish gene, is comparable to Darwins "on the origin of species". Though Dawkins has the benefit of a century of scientific development and understanding, they both approach the topic in a similar manor.

Any additional comments?

As with most scientific writing, it helps vastly to have a preliminary knowledge before jumping in. If you are completely unfamiliar with biology or evolution then some of the finer points of this book will be lost on you. We have the privilege to be able to understand much that Darwin could not (genetic theory, true inheritance etc.). Reading / listening to this with an understanding of these concepts not only makes it easier to understand what Darwin wrote, but also gives a humbling realization to the gravity of what he was writing (and at such a time). Many of his predictions have since become true, and many of his observations can now be explained thoroughly with our modern understanding of genes.

6 people found this helpful

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Superb narrator

I could listen to Peter Wickham all day. A fantastic and enthralling subject beautifully delivered.

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Engrossing

What a great narration of a classic. Really highly recommend, absolute genius and he conveys complex ideas with such ease and evident passion.

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a book every physican scientist should read twice

I spent 35 years in science to find that the origin and evolution of a particular disease is caused by natural selection. it stared into my face for 35 years. Reading the book it is all there! naturally the genetics is missing, but even without knowing genetics the minute observations and their explanation render genetics obvious. would I have understood the book the same way 35 years ago, I don't know, but variation followed natural selection is certainly the most powerful insights into medicine one ever can have. Peter Wickham is a most wonderful narrator, giving me the feeling that Darwin is just sitting next to me, telling me about his ideas being most concerned about my understanding and feelings or objections. What a treat!

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A great work delivered beautifully

Wonderfully read great book of the last century covering Darwin's theories of evolution and survival of the fittest.

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  • Henry
  • 22-03-18

Wonderful book - tough listen

This was/is a very interesting book. However it was a challenging listen given the scientific vocabulary and referrals to charts (that are not available...). Not sure it is a book to listen to. Still it was most interesting materiel.

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  • david
  • 14-02-17

Historic ... a must read

I'm not sure I could "read" this book because it goes on forever. But it was good listen. You have to make allowances because of when it was written and tough sell it must have been over the creationists. Even though you already know all the concepts, it still makes one look at nature with a new perspective and marvel at the vast diversity of life.

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  • Van
  • 31-01-21

What an intellect!

Little did I know that Darwin was such an incredibly well rounded scientist! He made his own very detailed observations, but he also knew the worlds scientific literature. He had detailed knowledge of biology ecology geology and paleontology. His ability to reason and discover circular arguments in other peoples logic is impressive. He made very solid arguments substantiated by major pieces of evidence at a time when only dogmatic religious views dominated the intellectual world. To this day we owe him a debt of gratitude!

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  • Richard B.
  • 30-04-19

Classic, but still very relevant

The narration is superb, but Darwin sure did go into a lot of detail that most readers today probably will not be interested in. Still, I'd never take the time to read this myself, so I'm very happy there are narrations like this.

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  • Mário
  • 12-09-17

Great piece of history!

Taking into consideration the time it was written it's great to see how elegantly Darwin discusses reason over faith. (It should be read taking into consideration it's time. Also for the time spent describing fauna and flora it's sometimes a heavy reading)

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  • David C.
  • 17-04-18

In the beginning...

"Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

it has been over 40 years since I first read "On the Origin of the Species." From where I stood at that time in my life, being raised in a strictly fundamentalist Christian environment, Darwin's tretise on nature was akin to the "Book of Satan" in my household. The version I read way back then was targeted at young readers but the concept of evolution versus spontaneous creation by a Creator seemed so... strange. And then, to consider the time scale of millions and billions of years for things to evolve versus the mere six thousand years the world had existed according to my familial beliefs was inconceivable.

Thus have been the mental wrestlings of many people who want to believe this fantastic story of creation but are nagged by the questions that scripture doesn't answer and can't be satisfied by merely accepting the pat answer that "such are the mysterious ways of God."

I was inspired to return to Darwin's seminal work while reading "Way of All Flesh" as it was written contemporaneous to "Origin's" recent publishing and wide circulation and the accompanying cultural and spiritual battle it was fueling in the realms of both academia and the church.

To many, Darwin's theory was tantamount to heresy. But when you realize the dozens upon dozens of prior tretises in all scientific fields accompanied by Darwin's own decades of research and observation that formed the basis of his thinking and understanding the unfathomable resistance he knew was about to fall upon him from those who diametrically opposed any suggestions of an evolutionary process, you realize how not only important, but, how brave this work was.

And still is.

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  • Zach Graham
  • 24-02-18

Groundbreaking book.

He describes the evolutionary process in such depth and provides so much evidence that it really is a wonder that people still doubt it to this day. The first addition is a little easier to get through, but this (the 6th) edition addresses all of the faulty arguments put forth by his critics at the time. After all, it’s only a theory, just like gravity.

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  • Larry
  • 13-05-22

Not the first edition.

For those who care about these things, this audiobook is based on a later edition of the book--probably the sixth, though this is not specified in the description. If you're looking for the first edition, try the Penguin audiobook.

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  • Rick B
  • 08-02-22

The Genius of Charles Darwin

What a privilege it is to be able to listen and or read the genius of Charles Darwin, in his own words. Listening to the narration by Peter Wickham, I imagined was like being in the presence of the greatest of all Naturalists, Charles Darwin himself. Perter Wickham's pronunciations and articulate verbiage of not only the multiple languages such as French & Spanish, but of all the scientific wording was impeccable. Prio to listening to and then reading the full volume of not only "On the Origin of Species", but also "The Voyage of the Beagle", I found that some reviews pronounced this as bad science. Everyone is inclined to their own opinion, but mine is a most perfect science. Darwin was every measure a perfectionist who kept detailed records and measurements of most everything he touched. He then wrote prolifically and in a most detailed manner, that you would need to be able to understand all the variety of disciplines he mastered. Almost every known type of science, including Paleontology, Biology, Zoology, Ornithology, Botany, Entomology & Geology, the list is staggering and only Charles Darwin could bring it to life from the perspective of 1859. The 5-year voyage on the HMS Beagle starting on December 27th, 1831 gave Darwin the initiative to develop his theory of Natural Selection. What I learned the most from listening and reading is how many distinguished professors and other naturalists are frequently quoted as not only providing support but also detailed analysis of their own research from all the many countries around the globe. I also found it quite interesting how Darwin would at times give reason for a lack of evidence towards his own ideas, understanding that his knowledge was not perfect. This is most understandable as the science of DNA and microbiology was yet to be developed. I plan to continue my historical research as I learn to appreciate the genius of Charles Darwin. To listen fully to all 14 chapters can be a struggle as to the intensive detail of the species, but consider if you struggle, that you are not alone, as few mortals could have reached so far in so short of time.
Side note: We have as a species, advanced to appreciate the value and diversity in Race. Unfortunately, this was not the case during Darwin's life. You may certainly take offense at some of the quotes, but this is from another era, one that hopefully we can learn from their mistakes as well as their successes. We can all learn in this manner to value knowledge, from the past as well as the present. I hope you can appreciate the genius of Charles Darwin.

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  • Jules
  • 04-02-22

Wrong genre.

All my life I have heard this book Be revered as if it were the old testament of the atheists Bible.
I am a Bible believing follower of Jesus Christ, therefore it may be assumed that I would be prejudiced against it. I was not. Actually I assumed it would have been more convincing. I was astounded by the frequency of the usage of such words as “ probably” (literally over 1000 times...) and phrases like “ we can suppose, I suppose, it would seem, I believe” etc. etc. The word science means “to know”. The content of this book can be appropriately labeled A fairytale for adults. One where the Fairmaiden is an unworthy animal, there is no one to reward the Knight, the elimination of all reason to be chivalrous and a tale where the story ends with “ they all died miserably and there is no ever after” (even a child knows the story isn’t supposed to go that way)
If everyone would read the Bible with as much intellectual openness as I read this book, no sane human being would ever be convinced that the existence portrayed within the pages of Darwins writings is one that corresponds to reality. Furthermore, the Bible accurately addresses the physical, but also the spiritual and the eternal. You owe it to yourself to let one true Christian have 1% of the time allotted by our culture to evolutionists to convince you of their beliefs, (in public schools, public museums, universities etc. etc.) to explain to you why the Bible is true and how we can prove it. The origin of species is a religious textbook. You cannot afford to choose the wrong religion.