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The Annotated <i>Origin</i>: A Facsimile of the First Edition of <i>On the Origin of Species</i>, A Facsimile of the First Edition Hardcover – Facsimile, May 30 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press; A Facsimile of the First Edition edition (May 30 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674032810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674032811
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 21.1 x 4.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 Kg
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #879,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


On the Origin of Species has too long been one of those worthy books whose fate is to be lauded but unread. Jim Costa's deft commentary--an authoritative and engaging mix of history and science--will change that. The Origin is forbidding and inaccessible no longer--it has evolved! The Annotated Origin of Species restores, for modern readers, the freshness and excitement that made it a bestseller when it first appeared. Charles Darwin, I'm sure, couldn't wish for a better 200th birthday present.
--Andrew Berry, editor of Infinite Tropics, An Alfred Russel Wallace Anthology

Despite being 150 years old, the Origin is a living text for biologists. It is full of unsurpassed natural history observations, a model of careful scientific argument that still can catch the imagination with the grandeur of the views it puts forward. Jim Costa has provided an exceptionally lucid explanation.
--Janet Browne, author of Charles Darwin: The Power of Place

--Bernd Heinrich, author of The Snoring Bird: My Family's Journey Through a Century of Biology

The Annotated Origin is a culminating and, in an original manner of its own, the most useful of the centennial Darwin publications. It gives you the choice of reading page by page the original Origin, or its modern interpretation, or both together.
--Edward O. Wilson

Costa 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...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. (Publishers Weekly 2009-03-09)

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 (New York Review of Books 2009-05-28)

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 (Education Digest 2009-11-01)

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 (BioScience 2009-11-01)

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 (openlettersmothly.com 2009-10-29)

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 (Ottawa Citizen 2009-09-27)

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 (evolutionlist.blogspot.com 2009-11-11)

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 (Choice 2010-01-01)

One of the beauties of this finely-crafted tour of Darwin's Origin is that you can wander through it at will and still find a firmly-connected story of biology...When you read the original Darwin, the beauty of his prose makes you almost ignore his logic. Costa crisply navigates the currents of Darwin here, as he does steadily throughout his book...Costa teaches clearly, interestingly and relentlessly to the end...[An] illuminating book. I suggest making this book a required reference source in evolution classes.
--Joseph L. Fail Jr. (Evolution: Education and Outreach 2010-09-01)

We have long had the simple facsimile of the all-important first edition of the Origin, published by the same press (Harvard) with a short introduction by the eminent evolutionist Ernst Mayr. Now we have a much expanded work, with the most interesting comments and brief essays by a first-class biologist lined up on the pages against the original text.
--Michael Ruse (Quarterly Review of Biology 2010-03-01)

A masterful, refreshing, thoroughly enjoyable and sometimes novel perspective on Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species...With copious notes placed in the large margins of a beautiful facsimile of the first edition, Costa provides an eclectic but extraordinarily useful and insightful series of cross-references, natural history trivia, updates, expansions and comparisons to modern data, historical context, methodology, philosophy and biographical details. This book is no mere coffee-table showpiece...This lovingly created work must be rated as one of the most important resources available for Darwin scholarship and education.
--David H. A. Fitch (Nature Cell Biology 2010-05-01)

About the Author

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

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've now gone through six of the new editions of Origin of Species that have been released in honor of the 150th anniversary of publication. My recommendations,

1) Harvard "The Annotated Origin", with annotations by James Costa.
This is *the* one to get for the Darwin scholar, and for working biologists. A facsimile of the first edition is printed on facing pages across the center divide, with marginal notes by James Costa keyed on the outside margins. So, you can read the original text without distraction if you wish, and refer to the notes as necessary. The notes are largely historical, and go a long way towards making critical changes in Morse Peckham's variorum edition accessible. As a check, I really enjoyed the annotations to Chapter 4, where CD recaps the argument for and introduces the term Natural Selection. Costa's notes show CD backing away from his forthright statement in the 3rd edition, and the unfortunate introduction of 'survival of the fittest' in the 6th.

I'm compelled to added that this edition reminds me very much of the Harper Collins Study Bible of the New Revised Standard Version, an excellent fully-annotated edition largely free from doctrinal bias. [In YHWH's 2nd edition of the Descent of Man, 'humankind' (adam) is formed from the 'ground' (adamah), and not in the image of YHWH. So there.] However, the notes in HCSB take up the bottom half of the page and the eye must skip up and down, which is a distraction from the left-to-right flow of the text. As so often in the past, Bible scholars could learn a thing or two from Darwin scholars.

2) Harvard facsimile of the first edition.
This is the same facsimile text as above, without the the marginal notations, and in paperback (Harvard publishes both).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0xa874ea14) out of 5 stars 561 reviews
677 of 771 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ffd6f0) out of 5 stars Beware of anti-science content in this "trojan" edition of Origin Oct. 20 2009
By John Rummel - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Darwin's Origin of Species is, of course, an icon of scientific writing. It is eminently readable and accessible to nonscientists and should be read by everyone. This edition though, the "150th Anniversary Edition" is an intentional Trojan horse published exclusively to serve as a vehicle for Ray Comfort's 50 page introduction. Comfort is a young-earth creationist and rejects Darwin's theory wholesale. Every reader of this review should contact Amazon and ask them to differentiate this edition of "Origin" from legitimate republications of this epic work. Comfort's 50 page intro is an embarrassing affront to scientific honesty and integrity. Anybody who has followed his antics on the internet knows not to take him seriously, but by attaching his name and his screed to Darwin's work, and then having Amazon market it as though it's a legitimate complement to this volume, is abhorrent.
235 of 265 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ffdaf8) out of 5 stars Another Amazon Screwup Oct. 20 2009
By Rudy Garns - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Amazon is mixing the reviews for different versions the 150th edition of Origin of Species. The version with the preface by Ray Comfort includes creationist nonsense and should be avoided. The version that includes the preface by Julian Huxley is worth owning.
182 of 208 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ffdb70) out of 5 stars Ray Comfort has a Creationist Agenda Oct. 19 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This 150th anniversary version with Ray Comfort's 50+ foreword is a disgrace to science.

Comfort has a clear Christian Creationist agenda. He knows NOTHING about Evolution, yet writes as if he has actual knowledge on the matter. His assertions are laughable.

Do yourself a favor (since Amazon isn't being helpful yet), and search for the REAL 150th anniversary edition on here, or at your local book store.
465 of 540 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa7ffdf00) out of 5 stars This is the creationist version of Origin of Species Oct. 19 2009
By A. Burke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Be warned! This version of Origin of Species has a forward by a guy named Ray Comfort, a well known "Young Earth" creationist. Mr. Comfort has absolutely no formal education in any field of science whatsoever, and he uses the introduction of this book in order to promote his religious belief that the universe is less than 10,000 years old.

Mr. Comfort gravely misunderstands, misrepresents, and plainly lies in the introduction of this book in order to make evolution look "evil."

So, please, if you want to get Darwin's work On the Origin of Species, choose a different version.
60 of 66 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa8000054) out of 5 stars The "Origin" Made Far More Accessible For Ordinary Readers May 4 2009
By JMB1014 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an excellent versions of "On the Origin of Species," especially for non-specialist readers. Professor James T. Costa, who edited this book and prepared the excellent annotations, is a biologist himself and an insightful student of Darwin. He presents a facsimile of the first edition of Darwin's classic volume (accepted as the most passionate and unalloyed version of Darwin's original views, compared to the five versions that he oversaw subsequently) in a broad format: on each page, the text lies next to commentary and interpretation by Professor Costa. Darwin's writing is precise and clear but the lay reader often has questions - or would, if we knew what to ask - that are answered in the annotations. The result is a handsome edition with thought-provoking insights that vastly enhance the reader's interest and understanding. Each comment is keyed to the pertinent place in the text to which it refers by the use of an arrow and the comments provide a gloss, as it were, on those passages. Costa summarizes, explains and points out what is coming up, indicates where the same themes or ideas reappear, offers valuable context or present-day perspectives on what Darwin is saying, and so forth. These annotations are not necessarily just brief remarks but are often substantive, meaty, and very worthwile. They make the original text resonate in ways that no one but an expert would necessarily have anticipated. The result is a far more rewarding book than the "Origin" would be alone, and that is saying something.

To take just one small example, Costa explains what may puzzle many readers, namely, why Darwin starts out with a discussion of plants and animals under domestication. His comments reduce the confusion people feel (I know I did, initially) when they start reading, thus making it likelier that general readers will not be put off by the book from the outset. The reader is thus helpfully guided through Darwin's seminal work by a companionable expert.

Costa has prepared a worthwhile introduction in which he discloses his ambition that this edition will help to persuade modern students to read Darwin's original book, thereby enhancing understanding (and preventing misunderstanding) of evolution. He also laments and is perplexed by the fact that Americans seem so inclined to litigate over whether such widely accepted science can be taught in public schools. I gather he hopes by this edition to forestall some of the misunderstanding that can give rise to such litigation.

I hope Costa succeeds.

A set of biographical notes helps readers understand Darwin's references to other people and indicates where in the text one will find those references. I also inspected the bibliography/references and found it substantial and helpful, if a bit on the individualistic side. There is an index as well.

This is an attractive volume, stylishly presented by Harvard University's Belknap Press. There are no illustrations or diagrams apart from those found in the original first edition, however. The price is reasonable. Although I already have several editions of "On the Origin of Species," I was quick to buy this one. As a non-specialist, I have found the annotations extremely useful, informative, and even entertaining.