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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value
This is a "coffee table" sized book i.e. on the large side which is a bit of a shock if you are expecting something you can carry easily. However the plus side is the fantastic colour plates and the addition of supporting material from the Beagle voyage, Darwin's autobiography and journals. A book to enjoy whilst sitting comfortably at home rather than on public transport.
Published on 16 Jan 2009 by A. R. Jones

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great value. Occassionally odd choice of layout and illustrations
I was expecting an original copy of the text but with colour illustrations. However, many of the illustrations appear to be unrelated to the text. Also, if you want the background 'DVD Extras' type book, with additional text and letters, then this is for you. A hefty tome - more coffee table than bedtime reading.

Personally I want more original, less 'value...
Published on 17 July 2009 by Computer-Engineer-UK


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83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great value, 16 Jan 2009
By 
A. R. Jones (Caerdydd) - See all my reviews
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This is a "coffee table" sized book i.e. on the large side which is a bit of a shock if you are expecting something you can carry easily. However the plus side is the fantastic colour plates and the addition of supporting material from the Beagle voyage, Darwin's autobiography and journals. A book to enjoy whilst sitting comfortably at home rather than on public transport.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!, 7 Feb 2009
By 
Ms. Grainne Berrill (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This is the most beautiful edition of Darwin's Origin of the Species I have come across. With lots of facsimiles of the original book, Darwin's letters and other memorabilia from the original it really adds to the book's content. Highly Recommended
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A glorious edition of a masterful book, 24 April 2009
By 
Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This large (and attractively cheap!) book is instantly appealing, crying out to be flipped through. There are hundreds of photographs and drawings of animals, plants, people and places, and portraits of Darwin and his peers. There are also many text panels livening up the main read with extracts from Darwin's "Voyage Of The Beagle", and his autobiography, and the volume of his life and letters produced by his son Francis. These panels tend to form an unrelated 'sub-plot' in each chapter, adding colour, context and interest.

Darwin's text is still one of the world's most important books and I was delighted to find his prose so graceful, his tone so calmly intelligent, and his intellect so sprawlingly compendious. His book went through six editions in his lifetime, during which he tinkered with the text to answer his critics; this version wisely presents the original and uncluttered first edition text. Although I understood evolution by natural selection well enough before (Dawkins fan), I had not realised the degree of detail and care that Darwin brought to his exposition, and the amount of evidence he marshals from so many directions (embryology, geology, geography, taxonomy...). He also anticipates his critics by laying out what he regards as the problems for the theory, as well as its strength. The work will be a tad dry for some readers' tastes (I took a month over it), but it is a quiet joy.

Quammen's introduction explores Darwin's life and puts his achievement in the context of the time. Included as an appendix is Darwin's introduction to the third edition, in which he diligently credits all those writers who had approached the same theory before him (including Wallace of course). There's also a biological glossary and a substantial index.

My only concern (aside from a few typos) is that the illustrations, whilst almost all of splendid quality, only rarely bear on the main text. Instead, they more often illustrate the Beagle tales from the text panels, or show people and places important in Darwin's life. This is a curious decision, given that there's scarcely a page of Darwin's text that couldn't be enriched by direct illustration or diagrams. To give one example, page 188 discusses three species of bird and a bear; but it is illustrated by a photo of a Galapagos shark. Darwin doesn't once mention sharks in the whole book!

However, this slightly odd policy is not worth docking a star from this beautiful (bargain!) book. If you're going to read "On The Origin Of Species", I reckon this is the version you want.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great value. Occassionally odd choice of layout and illustrations, 17 July 2009
I was expecting an original copy of the text but with colour illustrations. However, many of the illustrations appear to be unrelated to the text. Also, if you want the background 'DVD Extras' type book, with additional text and letters, then this is for you. A hefty tome - more coffee table than bedtime reading.

Personally I want more original, less 'value add' - but then again, I never watch the DVD extras.

Also the paper was slightly undulating as if it had become damp then dried out. Can't complain for the price though.

Lots to love about this book for the price.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful book, 3 Feb 2009
A beautifully presented book. The original text, in a good sized font, is accompanied and enriched by illustrations and excerpts from original journals.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Two beautiful things..., 9 Jun 2011
By 
Martyn Murray (North Berwick, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This book has been produced on the premise that two beautiful things, when put together, make something even more beautiful, just like wine and cheese, a sail on the sea, the singer and a song, a dove on its leafy branch, a man and a woman. Right? Wrong! Our lives are just not that simple as a few seconds further thought will confirm. How about olives and custard, a modern highway beside a country cottage, an opera singer bugling a rock song, a bickering pair of ex-partners?

More than others, I would expect those in the world of art and literature to understand that a beautiful object becomes more beautiful through its harmonious relation to others. In a partnership, each must speak to the other--strikingly, wittily, subtly, shockingly, artistically--in one way or another but the conversation must take place and it must engage. Sadly in this edition, the powerful words of Darwin's Origin of Species and the illustrations--a series of stunning images and quotations taken from his other books, notably The Voyage of the Beagle and The Autobiography of Charles Darwin--do not speak to one-another at all. They lie in stark isolation on the same page, a conglomeration of words and images, as scrambled as a dog's breakfast.

To take just one example, Chapter 1 on "domestication" is full of Darwin's observations and explanations about breeding of domestic animals--pigeons, dogs, cattle, domestic hens. It could so easily have been illustrated by contemporary drawings and paintings, many by Darwin himself, of domestic breeds. What do we get? Tropical forests, HMS Beagle, Captain Fitzroy, flamingos, a photo of ants and extracts from the Voyage of the Beagle. It is the same throughout the book. Chapter 7 is about animal instincts and the behaviour of cuckoos, slave-making ants and the honey bee. Do we get photos and drawings of these species and their activities? Nope; it is illustrated with sketches of the Magellan straights, HMS Beagle (again), the Fuegians taken hostage by Captain Fitzroy and yet more extracts from the Voyage of the Beagle. The height of this madness is reached in Chapter 10 where the title page to the Origin of Species is reproduced with its twin quotations, all part of an illustrated story of Darwin's life that flows randomly through the book, yet this title page is of course part of this book appearing in its rightful place at the beginning (p xiii)! Only with rare exceptions such as in Chapter 12 (on oceanic islands) do we arrive at concordance, and oh what a difference that makes. To see for instance the vulnerability on the face of Robert Grant, Darwin's friend in Edinburgh, at the same time as we are reading about him is powerful, except that we suddenly notice we are not reading about him in the Origin of Species but in an extract from "The Autobiography of Charles Darwin".... aaargghh!

If there is a method in the mad layout, it is this: to plot the life of Charles Darwin in images and extracts and then superimpose it on the text of the Origin of Species. Was that a good idea? Do I need to answer that question? I cannot believe that the person who composed (if I can use that word) the layout of this book, or the people who supervised the process, bothered to actually read the Origin. Come on now - did you? In this post-modern world, must we ignore sustained intellectual argument in favour of flash image and sound bite? Do we gain some deeper artistic perspective by having our literary breakfast served à la scramble?

There is assuredly a niche for a properly illustrated first edition of On the Origin of Species. Sadly this book does not fill it, or at least fills it very awkwardly, and the opportunity to catch the 250th anniversary has now passed. As Darwin might have put it, the window of selective advantage has closed, and we have entered a long corridor of competition for publishing space from more trendy books. Let us hope that the 300th anniversary will not pass without publication of a new illustrated edition in which text and pictures are married together in blissful harmony - assuming we are still making books by then!

Four stars then, because it would be unthinkable to give the Origin any less, the illustrations in the Sterling edition are beautiful, the quotations enriching, the quality of printing high, and the introduction by David Quammen both thoughtful and illuminating. I reserve the fifth star for the 2059 illustrated edition.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A jewel of a book, 9 Mar 2010
A wonderful book, both in its presentation and in its content. Basically, the book is a reprint of The Origin of Species. I found this particularly refreshing, in the sense that, originally, I thought that bits and parts of it will be displayed, or even a commentary. But here we have the real thing presented in a way that makes this publication a jewel of a book.
However, it is also much more than that. An interesting feature is that it also includes many extracts from Darwin's other writings, including the Beagle notes, which provide a valuable background to the main text. Then there are the illustrations, which indeed give the whole publication a breath of its own. The artwork is beautiful, and the interest it attracts is riveting.
This is not simply a reprint of Darwin's famous book. It is a collector's item; a special way to celebrate and commemorate that ground-breaking and revolutionary work which changed the lives of all of us.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Darwin Anomaly - Correction, 1 Jan 2012
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Yesterday morning I finally finished my Kindle version of this seminal work. As I read through the last and famous paragraph I was struck by three incongruent words; "by the Creator". I reread the sentence again to check that I had not misunderstood but it still looked out of place. Later in the day I began to read a paperback version of Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion". On page 32 Dawkins quotes the same paragraph but without the reference to "the Creator". It seemed highly unlikely that Richard Dawkins would have risked his academic credibility by misquoting Darwin, so I checked the quotation from other sources on the internet; none of which contained the words "by the Creator". The two sentences are shown below;

"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." Dawkins and others sources.

"There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator 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." Kindle Edition

I appreciate that Kindle versions are prepared by volunteers and, therefore, accept the occasional errors of grammar and spelling, but this cannot have been an error. How much more of the Kindle version that I purchased has been amended to give a Creationist spin to Darwin's Theory and how many readers have been unwittingly mislead?

(Addendum made 11th January 2012) My thanks to Michael D Farmer for the following comments which correct my misgivings; "They are different editions. The first edition does not contain "by the Creator" here. There is a Kindle edition of this (text only). Darwin was persuaded to include the addition in the second and subsequent editions (there were six in his lifetime). See the website darwin online or the Wikipedia entry."

My apologies for suggesting some Creationist conspiracy but I was unaware that Darwin made these changes and had I been aware would have opted for the earlier version.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Dishonest, 9 Jan 2012
This review is from: Origin of Species (Paperback)
As the other reviewers have stated, get a different version.

In the words of a popular youtuber, what Ray Comfort has done is the equivalent of "polishing a piece of gold with a dog turd"
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The answer to the "mystery of mysteries" - the origin of species, 6 Feb 2011
By 
P. Webster "Phil W." (Lancashire) - See all my reviews
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This is the best edition available (as far as I am aware) of one of the most important books ever written, in which Darwin provided the answer to what had been called the "mystery of mysteries", the origin of species.

Darwin shows that "species are not immutable"; that all living creatures are linked by common descent; and that natural selection is the mechanism by which evolutionary change takes place.

This edition really does provide the best of both worlds. It gives us a facsimile of the first edition of "On the Origin of Species" side by side with up-to-date explanations and comments by James T. Costa.

You do not have to be a scientific specialist to read the "Origin", but I do feel that you can get more out of it if you have first read a modern introduction to evolution such as Ernst Mayr's "What Evolution Is" or Jerry Coyne's "Why Evolution Is True". This, along with Costa's annotations, allows you to appreciate what Darwin got right and what he got wrong, as well as the historical context of the times.

There were things that Darwin could not know 150 years ago: he knew nothing of modern genetics or the causes of variation; he mistakenly thought that the Lamarckian inheritance of acquired characteristics played a part in evolution; and later theorists such as Ernst Mayr have added to our understanding of how one species branches off from another in the speciation process. This is where the prior reading I have suggested and Costa's annotations are particularly useful.

I must admit that there are sections (those on variation and hybridism, for example) that I found myself skimming. But, on the other hand, chapters such as those on the "Struggle for Existence" and "Natural Selection" drew me into reading every word.

Stephen Jay Gould summed up Darwin by saying that he was conservative in his personal life, liberal in his political views (in his strong opposition to slavery for example), and radical in his scientific ideas. I'll end with Darwin's own succinct summary, from his Introduction, of the most important of these radical scientific ideas, his theory of natural selection:

"As many more individuals of each species are born than can possibly survive; and as, consequently, there is a frequently recurring struggle for existence, it follows that any being, if it vary however slightly in any manner profitable to itself, under the complex and sometimes varying conditions of life, will have a better chance of surviving, and thus be naturally selected. From the strong principle of inheritance, any selected variety will tend to propagate its new and modified form."

Phil Webster.
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