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.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
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.
Less is More.
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 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.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
I recall being very excited after I listened to The Blind Watchmaker (last year I think) and very much looking forward to re-visiting this book. After all, it was this book that sparked the debate about evolution that has flared for decades, now. I think I got too excited.
By the time I listened to this production, the novelty of the Dawkinses' reading of Richard Dawkins' text didn't have the same sparkle for me. In fact, I thought the exchange of his and Lalla Ward's voices wasn't used enough (as opposed to my view about it when employed in The Blind Watchmaker). There was more than one occasion that I was not sure if I was in the 1989 footnote or back in the original text. I had to check the hardcopy more than once. Still, Dawkins' reading is infectious in its enthusiasm and it is hard to fault Lalla Ward's lovely voice.
Also, because of the many advances since the book was first published in the mid '70s and since I first read it in the mid 1980's, some of the original thesis seemed a bit dated. Of course that can hardly be laid at the author's door. It would be unfair indeed to accuse him of being too successful in the promotion of debate, investigation and the development of his Darwinian based theories. I guess I (unfairly) expected the book to have evolved, too.
In one way, the book has evolved. The two new (to me at least) Chapters, particularly the last one, came as a very pleasant surprise. They have provoked me to go in search of The Extended Phenotype. I can't find it in Audible (I understand it is quite long - 300+ pages - from the Amazon reference), but it really seems very interesting if the last Chapter is a fair precise of its content. I look forward to its addition to Audible's collection!
In summary, if you haven't read Dawkins before, you might want to skip this seminal work and move to the more recent writings, many of which summarise this book. I enjoyed it because I enjoy the way Dawkins writes, reasons and argues a case. You don't have to agree with his argument, but you need to be particular dull not to understand it. For me it remains a classic treatment of his basic arguments. It was worth the re-listening and I would recommend it to anyone who wants to study good argumentative writing and wants to understand something about natural selection.
I have several people that recommended reading this book. I am glad I listened to it. Great book.
Truly mind altering
None other. It stands alone in any field related to this subject matter. Other books may well be compared to it, however...
This narration is excellent. The use of alternating narrators is very helpful when switching from primary text, to footnotes, to updated revision notes, etc.
This was my first Dawkins book. I have since begun to search out and listen to others. His clear thinking and deep insight make any topic, even one with which I am modestly familiar, even more interesting.