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The Selfish Gene | [Richard Dawkins]

The Selfish Gene

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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.

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (1790 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer Atkinson, NH, United States 12-23-11
    Amazon Customer Atkinson, NH, United States 12-23-11 Member Since 2010

    Bob

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    "Very dry, unless one is zoologist,"

    Got through it and learned some valuable knowledge about the gene pool, not really my cup of tea.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carl BLOOMINGTON, MN, United States 12-03-11
    Carl BLOOMINGTON, MN, United States 12-03-11
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    "Great book"
    Where does The Selfish Gene rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    One of the best for anyone wanting to learn about the origins of life and who else better to convey the message than Richard Dawkins.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Stephanie Montreal, Quebec, Canada 11-16-13
    Stephanie Montreal, Quebec, Canada 11-16-13 Member Since 2013
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    "academic and dry"

    Slow going, still trying to finish it after many months. I occasionally come back to to it in between books.

    2 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jill C Bidwell 05-28-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Too technical"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    I had heard so much about Richard Dawkins that I thought I would give one of his books a try. I only listened to about 3 hours of the book and had enough. Even though he says he tried to write the book for non-scientists, I found the book to be more lecture and too technical. There was no motivation for me to keep reading because I don't know that I learned anything.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Richard Dawkins again?

    Probably not unless a cliff's note version is available.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chopper Chick 11-26-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Fantastic Read!!!!"
    What made the experience of listening to The Selfish Gene the most enjoyable?

    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!


    What did you like best about this story?

    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?"


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes. I had a long road trip scheduled and saved this book specifically for that.


    Any additional comments?

    Thanks for the recommendation, Joseph!!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ben SAN ANTONIO, TX, United States 10-31-13
    Ben SAN ANTONIO, TX, United States 10-31-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Fascinating"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sam Motes Tampa 10-06-13
    Sam Motes Tampa 10-06-13 Listener Since 2009

    Audible obsessed lifelong learner.

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    "Truth is stranger than fiction"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 09-23-13
    Jason FPO, AP, United States 09-23-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Fascinating and thought-provoking"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Deborah C Oswego 08-17-13
    Deborah C Oswego 08-17-13 Member Since 2013

    Deb

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    "A wonderful listen"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Joe Cohen New Mexico 05-17-13
    Joe Cohen New Mexico 05-17-13 Member Since 2013

    Less is More.

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    "A great introduction to evolution"
    Where does The Selfish Gene rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    It is among the best.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What does Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Both are great readers and are just fun to listen to.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    I think the idea of tit for tat as the most successful strategy in evolution.


    Any additional comments?

    I highly recommend this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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