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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 (1460 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Tomasz Zaremba Andrychow, Poland 04-20-12
    Tomasz Zaremba Andrychow, Poland 04-20-12 Member Since 2011
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    "I listened with childlike fascination!"
    Where does The Selfish Gene rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    "The Selfish Gene" is by far the best written and performed popular science book I have ever listened too.


    What about Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s performance did you like?

    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).


    Any additional comments?

    Open yourself up for a whole new way of seeing yourself and the world around you.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyle poway, CA, United States 08-25-11
    Kyle poway, CA, United States 08-25-11 Member Since 2006
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    "Don't Buy This Version!!!!"

    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.

    2 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger Smith Orlando, Florida United States 06-07-11
    Roger Smith Orlando, Florida United States 06-07-11 Member Since 2000

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Twice Too Long"

    I get it! You can get the point in the first half of the book.

    3 of 14 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tracy canton, MI, United States 11-03-11
    tracy canton, MI, United States 11-03-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Very tedious, couldn't finish"

    I tried to listen on a few different occasions and it was to tedious. I did not like this book at all.

    1 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven BEAVERTON, MICHIGAN, United States 11-27-11
    Steven BEAVERTON, MICHIGAN, United States 11-27-11 Member Since 2010
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    "Excessive use of “if, or, perhaps, and maybe"

    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.

    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jonathan San Diego, CA, United States 10-05-11
    Jonathan San Diego, CA, United States 10-05-11 Member Since 2002
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    "Ugh..."

    Practically, drivel. Old information, presented in a sanctimonious and patronizing manner. Dawkins recent, public rants enforces my view that he's got a God complex of epic proportion...oh, yes, he doesn't believe in God. Don't waste your money as I did...does Audible have a return policy?

    1 of 13 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 61-66 of 66 results PREVIOUS167NEXT
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  • Michael
    Banbury, United Kingdom
    7/9/11
    Overall
    "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.

    17 of 17 people found this review helpful
  • A User
    8/20/11
    Overall
    "Great listen"

    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.

    12 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • R
    Bishops Stortford, United Kingdom
    3/10/12
    Overall
    "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).

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Dr
    Barnsley, United Kingdom
    9/8/12
    Overall
    "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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Lindsay Kay Caddy
    Guildford, United Kingdom
    7/5/12
    Overall
    "Thoroughly interesting"

    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.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Jeremy
    Malvern Wells, United Kingdom
    2/6/12
    Overall
    "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.

    12 of 14 people found this review helpful
  • Ross
    Faversham, United Kingdom
    12/27/12
    Overall
    "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.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Miss Ee Hayward
    8/3/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A real eye opener"
    Would you listen to The Selfish Gene again? Why?

    I will listen to this book over and over again because of the immense detail.


    What about Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s performance did you like?

    Clear and easy to understand their voices.


    Any additional comments?

    Very well written and read, additional notes are read at the end chapter to make the book flow nicely.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • T. Griffith
    London, UK
    4/8/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazing book"
    What did you like most about The Selfish Gene?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


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

    I had never heard his voice before. It's fascinating.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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".

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Harihar
    United Kingdom
    7/7/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A mind opener"
    If you could sum up The Selfish Gene in three words, what would they be?

    Impressive, persuasive and conclusive.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    Which scene did you most enjoy?

    The parts which explains True altruism.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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