Richard Dawkins' brilliant reformulation of the theory of natural selection has the rare distinction of having provoked as much excitement and interest outside the scientific community as within it. His theories have helped change the whole nature of the study of social biology, and have forced thousands to rethink their beliefs about life.
In his internationally best-selling, now classic, volume, The Selfish Gene, Dawkins explains how the selfish gene can also be a subtle gene. The world of the selfish gene revolves around savage competition, ruthless exploitation, and deceit, and yet, Dawkins argues, acts of apparent altruism do exist in nature. Bees, for example, will commit suicide when they sting to protect the hive, and birds will risk their lives to warn the flock of an approaching hawk.
©1989 Richard Dawkins (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Dawkins first book, The Selfish Gene, was a smash hit.... Best of all, Dawkins laid out this biology - some of it truly subtle - in stunningly lucid prose. (It is, in my view, the best work of popular science ever written.)" (H. Allen Orr, Professor of Biology, University of Rochester, in The New York Review of Books)
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Dawkins is such a figurehead that to say anything about him seems pointless. While most people of my generation will know him as author of "The God Delusion," that same is to be said for this book for any previous generation. However, this book hits more closely to what Dawkins is actually expert in. (This is not intended to be a slant towards Dawkins understanding of theology or philosophy. What is meant by this is that Dawkins was actually educated as a zoologist. He seems to be well versed in Theology enough to speak intelligibly about it, though his social perspective is profound enough.)
The Selfish Gene presents an evocative formulation of the genetic world. And creates a huge foundation for how genetic life affects the entire world around us. It is an intelligent, persuasive presentation of evolutionary biology. Dawkins also has great respect for his reader. As he explains in his preface, the book is for the general public, but it is not dumbed down so as to not be engaging. I do not think that from reading this I can profess any proficient knowledge in evolutionary biology, but I can engage in the discussion of the Selfish Gene. Being so, I do not find the Selfish Gene entirely convincing, but something fundamental does seem to be present in Dawkins theoretical apparatus.
The narration of this piece is purposefully disjunctive. This is the first audiobook I've encountered that was like this. The foot notes are read in as they occur in the text and the updated text is read by a differing voice. All of this is explained at the beginning of the book (forget now who reads what, but all footnotes are indicated by Dawkins saying "Footnote"). It took me a second to get used to this style, but once acclimated I flowed on pretty smoothly. The only drawback of this is that when the footnote is particularly long it does become hard to recall what prompted the footnote. Having a text nearby, I suppose, would be an easy remedy. Though, any textless listeners, like me, will probably have little trouble with this.
In many respects this book is a gateway to modern-thought. I highly recommend any one to at least be familiar with Dawkins set-up of genetic evolution.
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
but those who left the nearly worshipful reviews don't seem to know that better and more up to date work has been done on the topic of Darwinian genetics. For one, Dawkins could have cleared a LOT of confusion about this book by simply using the term "self-interested" rather "selfish"--there is a considerable difference where genetics is concerned, especially when he starts shuffling around words/concepts like "selfish" and "altruistic" and "altruism for selfish means." The one huge flaw in his work is that he proclaims that "there is no higher purpose in nature than propagation of DNA..." This invokes the logical fallacy of begging the question. It is the most scientific explanation of nature, yes, but (the question it begs) "does/has science discover/discovered everything?" Read this book first as a primer, and then go on to the better work that has been done since on the theme of Darwinian genetics, self-interest and altruism, particularly that by Robert Wright, and especially his book THE MORAL ANIMAL.
This is Richard Dawkins 1976 masterwork on evolutionary biology from the perspective of gene selection. The updated edition is as poignant today as when it was penned. Updates include fascinating studies supporting many of the hypotheses forwarded in the original text.
Dawkins is an excellent writer and uses non-scientific vocabulary and analogies to explain complex biological models in an easy to understand and informative way.
Other areas touched on include game theory models (the prisoners dilemma) as a basis for understanding an ESS (Evolutionarily Stable Strategy), memes (a term he coined) and computer virus.
This would have been better presented as two options: 1) read with footnotes and asides inline, or 2) read without footnotes entirely. Classic book. Great listen. Gets a bit bogged down, unnecessarily.
Dawkins made the decision to read the footnotes thought the text of the book rather than update the book itself. The footnotes probably ended up being longer than the text itself. The self-important and unnecessary commentary sprinkled throughout also distracted from the point of the book.
A fellow listener inclined to share my opinion on these productions. Maybe even inspire someone toward a powerful, or educational audiobook!
This was an amazing read. In this 30 year revision he has added many footnotes and a marvelous introduction! If you have read earlier versions of this book you will be impressed at the additions; well worth it!
l'enfer c'est les autres
Author states that any philosophy of man's place in the universe before Darwin's 1859 "Origin of Species" will be incomplete. The book fully supports that statement. His metaphors for understanding genes and evolution are the best you'll ever come across. He explains the science so that even I can understand it.
I warn you, if you listen to this Dawkins book, you will listen to all of his others. I have and I am much wiser for it.
30 years on, and this book may well still be the definitive popular book on gene-centric evolutionary biology. This 3rd edition has new chapters and endnotes giving us Dawkins' reflection on his original ideas with the benefit of a good-deal of hindsight. An absolute must read for anyone wanting to claim modern scientific literacy!
In this version of The Selfish Gene, the footnotes are very cleanly added to the ends of chapters, and Dawkins went to a great effort to make sure the volume has been updated as the times have progressed. He and his wife have great voices when they are used in tandem as within.
The way they work together is charming, and it helped with the differentiation between the past and the present, the author and the non-author. It was a great instrument choice.
It widened my view in some ways and sharpened it in others. It forces you to critically observe natural phenomena from a new perspective that can, yes, at times be reminiscent of psychosis.
"Too irritating to finish"
Have you ever had a meeting with a salesman who is on a day out with his manager and every few minutes the manager chips in with corrections and comments? After about 30 minutes you're ready to throw them both out of your office. That's what its like listening to this book. Dawkins' wife reads the original text which is interpolated by Dawkins himself with commentary and end notes.
The interruptions to the narrative are infuriating and I found myself grinding my teeth in anticipation of the next one. It doesn't help that Dawkins himself comes over as smug, superior and self-important.
I already shared Dawkins point of view before I started the book but found myself wishing that I didn't.
If you are going to add so much to your original work then you should re-write it.
One that may be better read than listened to.
"A real eye opener"
I will listen to this book over and over again because of the immense detail.
Clear and easy to understand their voices.
Very well written and read, additional notes are read at the end chapter to make the book flow nicely.
"Spoiled by argumentative author's pedantry"
too much self justifying response to decades old arguments by the author- and do we really need a lecture in the pronunciation of 'algae', I think not..
"An engaging portrait of our fundamentals!"
This updated edition of The Selfish Gene showcases much of what people love and hate about Richard Dawkins' preferences when presenting his theses. An unquestionably solid empirical approach to explaining his theory of the form, function and dissemination of genes tainted in part by a somewhat arrogant demand that you either accept his conclusions or admit that you are at best being obtuse, or at worst, a religious zealot.
Interesting examples are presented to assist the listener understand how genes move down through the generations, perhaps the most interesting are those that detail why certain genes proliferate and others fall away as they engage in a possibly hopeless mission to achieve a stable evolutionary strategy.
Undoubtedly the best explanation of gene theory I've encountered thus far.
The narration performance by Dawkins and Ward is quite good and logically implemented.
I have bought other Dawkins audiobooks, this is probably the most satisfying.
"Each to his own format...."
I think this is a tremendously important book, and everyone should own it. But I'm just not sure that it is suited to the audiobook format. Some of the concepts can be quite complicated and I prefer to have a book in my hand when I feel the need to re-read something a couple of times... You are perfectly entitled to disagree and if you think you can digest a reasonably complex layman's book on science via audio then go for it.
However, I'm also not a fan of Lalla Ward's contributions. I find her more of a hindrance to understanding than a help (especially in 'The God Delusion' where a second voice was meant to clarify the narrative).
My advice to people is to actually buy the book physically, or as an eBook... sorry audible ;p
"A brilliant insight into how life has evolved and functions"
As a casual reads without a scientific background, I was able to follow most of the book and feel quite enlightened having done so. The content is set out very well, without jargon, hence the ideas can be readily followed with only the occasional rewind. I also liked the sense of humour that comes out intermittently. What a brilliant brain put this book together.
"not very well adapted to audio"
struggled to stay interested the whole way through. the voice changes are very off putting
"Still holds it's own after all these years"
I first read this book over 30 years ago (gosh) and on re-reading is as good now as it was then.
There have been a number of addenda added to the book and Richard reads these at the appropriate place on the way through which does a good job of keeping both the flow and relevance all the way through. There are a couple of points where he is suitably embarrassed about his comparisons to technology that has clearly moved on but this is only to be expected.
Lalla is excellent as the reader as well, I found her very easy to listen to and she used intonation to show she knew the topic well and to draw you into the "story".
Lalla Ward narrated her part very well, but I found this to be spoiled by Richard Dawkins reading additional material. If Richard Dawkins had interwove the amendment more and either read the book himself or left it to Lalla Ward to read ( which I personally think would have been good ) I might have liked the book more. This title I would not overly recommend. But if a friend wanted to have a longer sample I would lend them my iPad rather than tell them to buy the book.
Well written and easy to listen too. I'm very pleased with my purchase of this audiobook!
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