Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
I was highly impressed with Wright's use of Darwin himself, to elaborate on his research. The man's life was so interesting, and not many books on Evolution (at least that I've read) really touch on it. This book is well thought out, and captivating. Essentially, it traces the evolutionary past of why we act the way we do. If you're familiar with the basics of Evolution, then this is a must-read.
The only concern I have is the narrarator. It pains me to write this, since the book itself is so great, but the reader almost put me to sleep a few times. I almost gave the "Performance" 2 stars, but felt that it may unfairly skew the overall rating of the book in a way that I consider unjust. Bottom line is that this book needs to be read, but they could've chosen a better reader.
This books sums up many theories about the evolution of the human mind and human behavior. Well written and comprehensive.
The Believing Brain and Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer. Also, the Evolution of God. I would also highly recommend The God Part of the Brain by Matthew Alper (not available on audio book :) but an excellent read)
Not really a book that has "scenes" but the flow of the book explaining the theories is very natural and comfortable.
What every human should know.
The use of Darwin's life and his relationships is educational and insightful.
I am on my third listening, and I plan more.
Thornton gives a perfect reading, please get him to read more.
This is one of the very few books that take an honest, self-critic point of view on what the Darwin (or Wallace!) theory of evolution puts on the table to explain human (and animal) behavior. By doing so it offers some revealing and quite intriguing ideas about why we love, why we hate and why, the heck, that guy over there is getting away with my coffee.
Other than religiously colored books - which includes the "New Atheists" pamphlets with their own religion-like uberpowered self-confidence - the author takes a step back and tries to keep perspective: He knows that he is presenting theories and theories can be wrong. He takes the SCIENCE approach by trying to falsify claims, looking for gaps in arguments - and in this brings the matter to the reader/listener in a much more comprehensible way than any "I know what I am talking about, just listen, you dumb-ass"-book.
Aside from that the books has humor. You have to have some background knowledge to get every joke the author makes, but it _is_ funny.
For me there wasn't a climax, a most memorable moment (mmm), but the whole idea of being able to EXPLAIN emotional behavior and still accepting and even appreciating it (like "love") is something not that easily achievable by a completely scientific view on the emotional world.
Yes, this book does offer an idea of a religion-free common base for moral. Yet, that approach may not be acceptable to all humans, as it does not place humans at the top of the "moral landscape". In fact, it does not place humans on any top anywhere. It puts us back into a place where we belong. THAT may be an unwanted feeling for some.
Unfortunately the reading performance was quite distracting. At times it seemed like the narrator was completely uninterested in what he was reading, as if he just read it from paper and be done with it (which probably was the case). I had to speed playback up to 1.25 or even 1.5 to get SOME dramatic tone into it and not fall asleep (I am listening to audio books when taking my daily walk).
There are some narrative "gags" in the book which Mr Thornton (the voice actor) didn't seem to get.
I was tempted to give the performance a 1 star rating, but that would have been unfair. He still did a good job by speaking very clearly, perfectly understandably, easy to follow.
The content COULD have been stripped down to a 2-hour session without loosing too much of its information. But since the author follows Darwin's life and takes this as an example to illustrate evolution theory, he would have had to delete most of the "aha moments", which make this book so worthwhile.
So, no, I prefer listening to books like this in turns, even with other books in alternation.
I hope that what I was able to say what I wanted to in the comments above. This book really is worth some time of your life, either in printed form or as an audio book. One of the very few books I would actually recommend to people. And that's for the upright, honest and fair point of view taken in it, the acceptance of even the most weird (religious or not) perspective as "human" and "understandable" and even explaining why that is.
Let me put it this way: If someone is able to explain to the point what LOVE is and how it works and leaves you still being able and even wanting to love afterwards, he did a good job.
Boring (and I love to geek out on this kind of stuff).
I didn't feel that the other reviews and the description gave an accurate account of what I was getting.
This books put many things into a new perspective; it is one of the rare books that have transformed the way I see myself, my life (both external and internal), society, and life in general.
The insights kept coming, chapter after chapter...
Pinched, tight, not very pleasant. But the book is so great that this can be overlooked.
I have seldom experienced such sustained excitement in listening to an audiobook.
In The Moral Animal I found myself arguing with the anthropological evolution of (mostly) men because the logic is often in direct violation of American culture today. Remember the flack Newt Gingrich experienced when he said men were hunters? It was interesting to have a reason why some women want the “bad boys” and why men ask women to marry them (instead of women asking men). There are exceptions, of course, but humanity moves in generalities. This book has provided me with an understanding of human behavior. By looking at animals and applying their behavior to the animal side of humans, we can see that morals become the great divide. Men famously think about sex most of the time and will mate with any female, just as dogs will; however, if a man has “good” morals, he will remain faithful to his wife/girlfriend, whereas a dog won't remember that he just mated with a female an hour ago. If no or low morals, man will mate and perhaps think about any consequences later.
There are many examples in the book of various forms of primates to explain why behavior exists. In the early days of mankind, one man would have many wives and concubines and that is what helped populate the world. Today we no longer need to stress population, indeed, we focus on slowing it down through various methods of contraception and imposition of morals. Only man has morals; animals have instincts.
Sometimes the book drags on and I wanted to fast forward, but then there was that one nugget of information that was intriguing. The reader has a monotonous voice that I often struggled to stay with. If you are a thinker, analytical and are curious about human behavior, this is a must read. You won’t have to ask why someone behaved the way s/he did.
Didn't really want to hear about Darwin's life, but forced to to get thru the book for tidbits of interesting info
not at all
This book seemed more about the life of Darwin than anything else.
The first half of this book is exciting, provocative and excellently argued. I was amazed about how the evolutionary psychology discussed could mirror my life. I had decided to buy a kindle version as well to read over. But the 2nd half was a complete disappointment. Boring, insipid and more a biography of Darwin's life, not something I had signed up for. Also the theories were now discussed in such a way as to fit into Darwin's life retrospectively.
That's why it's 2 books; the first half mind-blowing, the 2nd, contrived and boring. But just for the first half, the book is worth 4 stars.
I would, only for the 1st half
There were no characters
Yes, the 1st half was un-put-down-able
Dawkins' selfish gene and blind watchmaker explore similar themes but the 3 books complement each other. Whilst Dawkins usually deigns to comment on morality, Wright is happy to give us his view. The first section on gender differences superficially sounds chauvinistic and dated until we remind ourselves of the "blindness" of natural selection. The one point Dawkins made about being able to raise ourselves above our evolutionary tendencies is put into doubt in this book as we struggle with our concept of free will. This is excellent reading for an explanation of reciprocal altruism, kin selection and non zero sum games.