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)
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.
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!
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
no, and i intend to listen to it more than once
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.
Got through it and learned some valuable knowledge about the gene pool, not really my cup of tea.
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.
Slow going, still trying to finish it after many months. I occasionally come back to to it in between books.
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.
Probably not unless a cliff's note version is available.
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!
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?"
Yes. I had a long road trip scheduled and saved this book specifically for that.
Thanks for the recommendation, Joseph!!
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.
Audible obsessed lifelong learner.
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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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