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)
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.
Since I was heading to the Galapagos Islands, I thought some additional perspectives on Darwinism would be informative. The Selfish Gene is about natural selection but it goes about it with too many statistical examples. Darwin said it better!
I did learn from the book and have a new view of the reason for my body, but it was too difficult to listen to this book and follow it.
"The Selfish Gene" is by far the best written and performed popular science book I have ever listened too.
I loved Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward's performance!
For me, as a great fan of Richard Dawkins, it was a genuine privilege to listen to him tell his story with his own voice and "spice" (for I think it was a story more that a collection of facts).
Open yourself up for a whole new way of seeing yourself and the world around you.
The footnotes are read into the text in such a way as to destroy the continuity of the book. I would recommend the original edtion without so many inane footnotes.
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.
"A wonderful book, wonderfully narrated"
I have lost count of the number of times I have read this book. From my battered copy of the first edition to the newer, but still well thumbed, later one. Now an audio book! An audio book narrated by Richard Dawkins himself and his wife Lalla Ward. It was a must have! It is a must have for anyone interested in the great question - where did we come from! In this early book Dawkins has not yet displayed his atheistic position quite so obviously [although it is still present] and, in a way, that makes the book even more impressive. As a scientific narrative it is excellent. The arguments, the examples, and the explanations are crystal clear and, whether or not you actually agree with the position he takes, it is an interesting journey. It was a book which helped me to get to where I am today and, being honest, clarified my thoughts about God, the Universe, and everything! I think it is the sheer wonder of natural selection as a 'system' that destroys the foundation for a creator. It is such a 'simple' thing.
The narration is above excellent. Dawkins has a wonderfully effective speaking voice [his lectures are a pleasure] and the interposition of his wife's voice add interest and variety. If you have an interest in one of the 'great questions' - if not the only one - then listen to this book.
The Selfish Gene restarted a function and feeling in my brain that I've not felt for a long time. It was a much welcome catalyst for brain activity. I'm a 23 year old without any A-levels or degree with no (other than intrinsic) interest in the theory of natural selection.
It is an interesting book, full of great ideas and explanations. I found myself having several 'ah-ha' moments and feeling enlightened by many of the explanations. I was quite happy with all off the explanations put forward in the book, since I could apply my own logic in all cases. You shouldn't belive everything you read in a book, but in this case I am yet to be convinced otherwise. It made sense and in a brain-excercise kind of way, was incredibly enjoyable.
I've remember reading somewhere that this book was a depressing realisation of life and I'd tend to agree, since it breaks life down to a single motivation - survival. For that reason, I found the book even more interesting to absorb.
The naration is excellent, from both Lalla Ward and Richard Dawkins himself.
"gene and survival machine"
I bought this book wondering whether the passage of time would have dulled it but far from it, the end-notes added by Richard Dawkins, inserted in the right place in the audio track, really add to the story and make it clear when things have changed (few) and when they have been reinforced (many). This is a clear benefit of the audio over the written version. Well-argued, clear and thought-provoking - if you haven't heard it you should. Excellent book, read really well (I like the double act of voices).
"The Original and Best of Dawkins"
All Dawkin's books are good, but in my view this is the best of the lot. This was a truely groundbreaking book when published in '76. This audio version, incorporating updates since the first publication shows how all Dawkins original arguments have stood the test of time.
"Much more than just the book"
I first read The Selfish Gene as a year one psychology student in 1982, and had not kept up with the new editions, aside for putting them on reading lists (The Extended Phenotype is my favourite of Darwkins' books). The point about the audiobook is that it is much, much more than a new edition: Prof. Dawkins has used the possibilities of the medium to create a new and more worthwhile communication of his ideas, and perhaps more importantly, the changes in them, as evidence has appeared which tests them. So, using his own voice, and that of Lalla Ward, he weaves the changes in his ideas around the stable parts. As scientific text this works brilliantly, but as a study of change in ideas it would be hard to better. This format is going on my new "reading list" - so that my students can experience the philosophy and development of science, as well as grasp the ideas of a distinguished biologist. Almost as good as a term of Oxford University College tutorials (well, you can stop the play, but not ask a question). Brilliant, highly recommend.
Ive always wanted to read one of Dawkins books, I bought the Blind Watchmaker but didn't get round to reading it and so bought this audiobook. I'm glad I did it, although the book was more interesting in some places than others that is only to be expected. I loved hearing Dawkins updates to the original text, well narrated and an excellent read.
"If you only read one book on evolution - read TSG!"
I first read this book back in 1981, and I loved it then. Such a clear, concise and closely argued exegesis of the "genes eye view" of evolution, it is a delight hearing it read by Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward.
He has a gift for bringing evolution alive, and all his evolutionary biology books sparkle like gems with clarity and brilliance. TSG is no exception. Please do more! I would love to hear "The Extended Phenotype", "Unweaving the Rainbow", "River Out of Eden" and "The Devils Chaplain" and all his others as audiobooks.
One thing I should say is "The Selfish Gene" is probably one of the most misunderstood books in history (second only to "The Origin of Species"). It is about altruism as much as selfishness, cooperation as much as competition, mutualism and reciprocity as much as parasitism and predation. In short, it is a thorough working out, using Game Theory and the Hamilton Equation, the best Evolutionary Stable Strategy for a gene to thrive in the gene pool. In short, the consequences of evolution for us as vehicles built by genes for their survival. It explains basic questions, like why there are two sexes, why males take greater risks, why there is sex at all, and why we all start life from a single cell.
Nowadays, there are many variants on evolutionary theory, such as "Multi Level Selection", "Punctuated Equilibrium" and (my personal favourite) "Dual Inheritance Theory". However, in this competitive environment TSG hold up well, with surprisingly little that needed changing from 1973. Perhaps a chapter on epigenetic inheritance, inducible mutation and gene networks might be added if written today...
However, if you want a clear, rational, enlightening explanation of evolution, the strategies used by genes, and the consequences for us as gene vehicles, get this audiobook.
"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.
I love the natural history that is introduced - as well as his referring to mathematical models, some erudition concerning the fate/state of man - with not TOO much politically correct screening. I also love the way he debates things - with himself - and others and brings their work and his work in. It might sound self-serving from a distance but it's also analytical and discerning.
Having the female voice breaks up the listening experience and helps to differentiate between the different threads. I love the fact that footnotes are read throughout.
I had never heard his voice before. It's fascinating.
It felt quite nostalgic. Back in the 60s and 70s people seemed to have time for animals and research. I'm not sure we do now.
I look forward to listening to it many more times, perhaps taking notes and looking at the internet at the same time sometimes to give me a "bigger picture".
"A mind opener"
Impressive, persuasive and conclusive.
Although this is not really a story, but the way the whole concept has been explained with clear examples, it really leaves no questions. Once you've gone through the whole book, one becomes a strong supporter of Darwinism automatically. Great respect for Richard Dawkins and ofcourse finally to Darwin. Once you understand the theory one wonders how such an obvious point is not clear to anyone.
The parts which explains True altruism.
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