I love Dawkins writing style and the fact that he/his wife read the audio made it especially amazing!! I really need to re-read this at least a couple more times!
No kidding, easy to understand narrative which many times had me, literally, laughing out loud. Other times I was just in awe, "why didn't I see that before?"
Yes. I had a long road trip scheduled and saved this book specifically for that.
Thanks for the recommendation, Joseph!!
The Selfish Gene is practically required reading when it comes to Dawkins' works, and study of evolutionary biology in general. Fortunately, it's not nearly as challenging as you might expect a scientific text to be. Dawkins' does a magnificent job of writing about complex principles in accessible and digestible ways, and he does so with a flourish for vocabulary and turns-of-phrase that rivals the skill of writers of fiction worldwide.
The tag-team approach and he and his wife take to the narration here (and in most of his other works) can be a bit jarring; personally I prefer the studious and rather caricatured-British-professor voice Dawkins possesses. To be fair, Lalla Ward narrates with aplomb - but if I had my druthers Dawkins himself would read the work from start to finish.
Also, I think this version of The Selfish Gene is superior to others in a very specific way (in my opinion) and that is how he reads his endnotes in the paragraphs where they would otherwise appear. Having been written several decades ago, this book features several analogies or facts accepted at the time that have since been debunked; and it would have been thoroughly confusing to leave them unaddressed by not reading the endnotes or simply rattling them off at the end of the work.
Tell us about yourself!
Truth is stranger than fiction. Stories of parasitic infanticide cuckoos, ranching ants milking their aphids, imperial assassinations of ant kingdoms by rival ants, and drug dealing caterpillars with their minions of ant body guards are some of the strange but true tails in this first work from Dawkins. Dawkins takes Rand's social selfish philosophy to the gene level to build on Darwin's theory to show how genes fighting selfishly for the perpetuation of their lineage leads to altruistic betterment. Makes the argument of the insect collective acting as the human symbiotic system. Chapters added in this new edition build on the selfish gene theory to show how game theory such as the prisoners dilemma is relevant as well. Very interesting insight that he expands in his later works throughout this work.
I picked up this audiobook because it had recently read a couple of things about it on the Internet, and then it turned up as a Daily Deal here on Audible; very glad I did!
I didn't have any special knowledge or interest in evolution before this title, and only a casual knowledge of the author, Richard Dawkins.
Dawkins is clear, precise and extremely painstaking, both in laying out his original arguments, but also in updating this 30th Anniversary edition with end notes that deal directly with misunderstandings of the selfish gene theory while adding newly discovered stories that support and illustrate his arguments.
I do feel like this is the sort of work that needs a second or third listen to fully absorb the ideas and the implications, especially so if you come in with no special interest or background as I did. That being said, this is an outstanding scientific book written in a way that any one can enjoy and benefit from.
The reading performance is handled by Dawkins and a female, which serves to help set off certain aspects of the text by switching readers. It works quite effectively. The production is just fine, audio is clear and crisp.
Dawkins seems to have considered and debated many fine minds on the theories and explanations he lays out, and I often found myself wanting to sit down with him and question him further as well as offer him some of my own thoughts that his ideas gave rise to - what a great effect for a book to have!
Highly recommended, and don't let the idea that this work might be "too stuffy" or "too science-y" turn you off. Yes, it is a bit of an academic topic, but the insight and understanding goes well beyond a simple textbook.
I have been a follower of Richard Dawkins as an atheist crusader; this is my first try at one of his popular science books. I really enjoyed the listen. The production was well done. The 30th anniversary edition felt modern. The way Richard and Lalla went back and forth was pleasantly balanced.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
Some science books have one or two key ideas but then resort to padding or rehashing to flesh out the rest of the book. This isn't one of those. Dawkins starts off with a premise about how the proper unit of evolutionary study is the gene rather than the organism, and then goes on with one fascinating topic after another, all designed to show how how the behavior patterns that exist today are the ones that outcompeted their rivals. Outcompeting is a misleading word here. Dawkins himself struggles with this point over and over. It's not that genes are consciously competing with each other. It's that behaviors that are less successful at propagating genes get squeezed out over time. One of his key examples is Evolutionary Stable Strategies (ESSs) where he shows how competing strategies often end up in some kind of optimal mix. His book is full of interesting examples and illustrations to support his ideas, some of which he acknowledges as speculative. I will not comment on all of them here. A good chunk of the end of the book is devoted to a deep analysis of The Prisoner's Dilemma. I hadn't thought of that as anything other than a cute logic puzzle, but Dawkins persuades me that it has extraordinary significance for competing behaviorial traits and societal development in general. I have to point out that this is also the book where Dawkins invented the idea of the meme. His discussion about memes as a kind of meta-gene with its own plane of existence emerging out of our own consciousness is as fascinating as anything else in this book.
I had not realized this book came out all the way back in 1976. I am glad he was able to revise it. And I am glad that the revisions were grafted on in the way they were. Leaving in the outdated portions and commenting on them in footnotes was enlightening. Other portions have simply been added to reflect new information in this extremely fast-moving subject area.
Dawkins is a tolerably good reader, and so is his wife, Lalla Ward. However, there were many times that I wish they had used a single, professional reader to record this book. I had to slow this book down a bit just because Dawkins's articulation is just a shade too muddied for clear understanding, or maybe I'm just getting old. Despite having been a fan of Romana (Lalla Ward's character on Doctor Who), her alternations with her husband sound a bit jarring and prissy. (And if you're a current Doctor Who fan, I should clarify that I'm talking about the Tom Baker era.)
I like science, mystery, fiction, history.
It is among the best.
I thought the use of the game theory to understand evolution was very revealing. Also the idea that whenever altruism shows up, there is selfishness to take advantage of it.
Both are great readers and are just fun to listen to.
I think the idea of tit for tat as the most successful strategy in evolution.
I highly recommend this book.
I doubt I'll get that far
This book is not a story so much as it is a bunch of random theories about how we developed from some single sell organism.
While I appreciate the authors obvious attempts to hide and or obfuscate there "opinions" and instead relying on what they believe to be "science", none of the "evolution theory" can be proved so.. it is after all.. "all opinion".
From the stand point of trying to understand "Evolution Theory" this book would be an excellent start.
I got this book thinking it would be more about humanity's selfish needs and driving forces. However it's more of an analysis of how a specific gene survives each generation. Which in and of it's self is interesting.
I like the reading and narrative, it made it easy to listen to and understand the arguments and points made in this book, even if I don't agree with such nonsense.
If you believe in Evolution Theory you should get this book. If you don't believe in it, it is still an interesting book, so unless you want to "open your mind".. your $$ is better spent elsewhere.
i didn't expect to be so grossly engaged in a scientific book when i chose this one. but Dawkins writing and narration set an exciting, satisfying unfolding of concepts from the simple to the complex. it's hard to fault this book (except for maybe the discomfort it make cause the more the religious-inclined).
Say something about yourself!
To hear excerpts and end notes in Dawkin's own voice leads this audiobook to be even more engaging than mere reading alone. To hear him discuss things he wish he could change after 30 years since the book's original publication or that he is glad he did not change when he originally wrote the book made this listen extraordinarily enjoyable.