The bible of evolution theory—condensed, glossed, furnished with updates, and enlivened with vivid photos and images.
Darwin’s magnum opus needs all the enlivening it can get, as even with considerable editorial work—which includes a substantial introduction, cutting two-thirds of the original text by removing outdated passages and excessive examples, combining chapters, defining unfamiliar words or usages in the margins, and reshaping some of the language—what remains is a lucid but dry mix of (now, at least) cautious claims and undocumented observations: “Mysterious laws govern the way variations occur within a species” Big, bright nature photos or period engravings and paintings on nearly every large spread do inject some juice, even if many seem more decorative than functional. More helpfully, supplemented by the occasional diagram, Stefoff’s frequent glosses and boxed side essays unpack major concepts, add historical context, explain how later scientific discoveries modify or support Darwin’s broad picture, and even studiously point out where the author went wrong. Young readers seeking to understand Darwin’s revolutionary insights and how he achieved them will have no trouble finding more concise accounts (including Stefoff’s own Charles Darwin and the Evolution Revolution, 1996), if none at once so handsomely presented and so close to the source.
Old news, even to younger audiences, but a glossy edition of one of science’s most fundamental works. (index, glossary, print and web resources) (Nonfiction. 13-17)