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)
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.
Say something about yourself!
I get it! You can get the point in the first half of the book.
Have to agree with all the 1 & 2 star ratings – Had hoped to come away with a deluge of thought provoking concepts, ideals and “makes perfect sense” theories – instead I had to “force” myself to finish the book and grateful to be done.
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