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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 (1925 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Gale 12-09-12
    Gale 12-09-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Persuasive, Fascinating, Shocking, and Hopeless"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    The trunk of the author's argument about gene selection is as godless and "anti-agency of man" as anything I've ever read. It's persuasive, fascinating, shocking, educational and hopeless all at the same time. He doesn't present his ideas as theory, he promotes them as doctrine. On its face, it helped me understand gene selection. More broadly it also lends perspective to whole segments of liberal academia and society--especially those who despise religion (like the author). Other reviews have mentioned how it rocked their faith. For me it made me appreciate mine more.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s performances?

    As interesting as the content is, the recorded performance is almost unlistenable. They chose a narrator with an erudite British accent. It's pretty much straight out of the BBC and infers a sense of academic superiority. When it is combined with the author’s pretentious way of expressing himself, it's almost unlistenable. In this 30th anniversary edition, the author himself reads his own footnotes, which interrupt the main narrator's flow. It's like watching a movie you've never seen and it has the soundtrack for the directors commentary turned on. Just about the time you are following the idea in the chapter he chimes in with a footnote that more often than not amounts to him taking a victory lap for how great his book has been after 30 years--that and he spends a lot of time tisk tisking his academic rivals (who the lay person has never heard of). The author is obviously brilliant but if he were at a party you wouldn't be able to stand being around him.


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rebekah 04-20-12
    Rebekah 04-20-12 Member Since 2011

    The best sellers page on this site makes me very sad.

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    "Excellent for General Audiences"

    Though a tad light on the hard science, Dawkins' exemplary intelligence and passion make this a compelling read. Accessible to laymen and interesting enough to keep the attention of those who may not find biological textbooks to be utterly captivating beach reading material.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sarah Tel Aviv, Israel 02-26-12
    Sarah Tel Aviv, Israel 02-26-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Very Technical, Hard to Follow"

    I have read and absolutely loved other books by Dawkins (The God Delusion and The Magic of Reality) but found this one much more scientific and hard to follow - and, well, not nearly as compelling. For my not-so-scientific mind, I would have preferred less detail. Perhaps a printed copy would be easier to get through - audiobooks make it difficult to skim through parts you're less interested in, and this one is quite long.

    However, Dawkins and Ward are excellent narrators and pleasant to listen to.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sylvia BISBEE, AZ, United States 02-13-12
    sylvia BISBEE, AZ, United States 02-13-12

    puppetmaster

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    "the "good book""
    Where does The Selfish Gene rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    the best


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    the meme, because it makes me want to find other books on that, it was something i was aware of since i was a meaning-seeking teenager. but i'd also like more good books this easy to understand and as entertaining but even deeper on evolution itself. so sad evolution is under attack now--it was not so when I was in high school 50 years ago!


    Have you listened to any of Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    yes well the god delusion was good too but this is the foundation book, i think. i looked at their other books on evolution but they seemed repetitive--i could be wrong, but i'd like to try other authors as honest and clear as dawkins


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

    no, and i intend to listen to it more than once


    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas H. Kregel Minnesota 02-06-12
    Thomas H. Kregel Minnesota 02-06-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Thought provoking Will need to read several times."

    This book has a lot of incredible ideas presented with candor and grace. Much of the content is intensely logical so the reader should take frequent breaks to take in each step. The reading is kept fresh by alternating male and female readers. I do love this author though I dont always agree with him on general conclusions. Concpet of meme (sp?) is great to take from this book also.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
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    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
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    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
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