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Book by UC Riverside biologist explains Darwin's 'Origin of Species'
Date:11/9/2009

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Many people have tried to read Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species," whose publication celebrates its 150th anniversary this month, but gave up.

For them and others who would like to know what the book is about, help by way of a new book is at hand.

World-renowned evolutionary biologist David Reznick is the author of "The Origin Then and Now: An Interpretive Guide to the Origin of Species" (Princeton University Press, 2009), which makes Darwin's book (hereafter "the Origin") more accessible by explaining its historical context, and converting it into more modern terms. Reznick's book also explains the immediate and longer term impacts of the Origin.

"I have taught the Origin to more than a dozen classes, and felt that I had figured out why Darwin's arguments were so hard to follow," said Reznick, a professor of biology at the University of California, Riverside. "His Victorian prose is a small part of the problem. The bigger part is that the book is rooted in the knowledge of science in 1859, which is quite different from today. To understand the book, it helps a great deal to understand the context in which the book was written and the audience that Darwin was addressing."

In his book, Reznick weaves in material from not only Darwin's earlier work, but also his monographs on barnacles. He also includes biographical material and brief descriptions of some of the mentors and contemporaries who helped shape Darwin's ideas, and who may have come into conflict with Darwin after the appearance of the Origin.

"To the best of my knowledge, no other book combines an explanation of the Origin with a definition of the historical context and of the differences in the
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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