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The Selfish Gene Audiobook

The Selfish Gene

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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

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  •  
    Douglas 06-13-15
    Douglas 06-13-15
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fantastic production"

    Every Dawkins audiobook I've listened to has been exceptionally well produced and this is no exception. He takes the time to rearrange and add to the text to better fit the audio format, make it comparatively easy to follow, and include additional updates. The book itself is an absolute must listen for anyone with even a passing interest in the history of life on our planet.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Justin OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, United States 05-12-15
    Justin OKLAHOMA CITY, OK, United States 05-12-15 Member Since 2012
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    "How can a science book be this captivating?"

    This is one of those rare science books that seems to be accessible to both the scientifically literate and (most) laymen. I'm very familiar with physics, and had reasonable understanding of evolutionary principles, but I never fully understood the mechanism by which evolution works. I didn't think I'd be all that excited about genetics itself, but I found myself positively captivated. It may take a full book to detail its effects and expressions in a complex world, but it's thrilling to learn just how simple of a mechanism genetic evolution truly is at its core.

    Dawkins' writing is characteristically eloquent, and his narration matches the writing style. Note that he narrates in tandem with his wife. It's a little jarring the first few times the voice switches, but you quickly get used to it.

    I've listened to several others of Dawkins' books, but so far none have matched The Selfish Gene in revelatory and explanatory power. I've listened through two or three times, and recently bought it in print to examine the theory at my own pace. Trust me, this is one book you won't regret spending time on!

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tomer AMSTERDAM, Netherlands 11-08-15
    Tomer AMSTERDAM, Netherlands 11-08-15 Member Since 2010
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    "Interesting though tedious at times"

    Very interesting read; the writer attempt (as he states in the preface) to reach the professional, the student and the layman, makes this book a bit difficult to digest (I am a member of the third group...).
    The added commentary and Dawkins' need to answer his critics is more then tedious and irritating at times - unnecessary additions to my taste.
    I would recommend to come supplied with good deal of patience for this read - if you do, it is facinating ...

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    eriyasu 10-02-15
    eriyasu 10-02-15
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    "can listen to it over and over again."

    narration was superb and the info is timeless. I will certainly be listening to this for many years to come

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    AShopper 09-29-15
    AShopper 09-29-15
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    "Great - minus the pedantic footnotes"
    Any additional comments?

    This would have been better presented as two options: 1) read with footnotes and asides inline, or 2) read without footnotes entirely. Classic book. Great listen. Gets a bit bogged down, unnecessarily.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ann 09-20-15
    Ann 09-20-15
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    "Obnoxious treatment of footnotes"

    Dawkins made the decision to read the footnotes thought the text of the book rather than update the book itself. The footnotes probably ended up being longer than the text itself. The self-important and unnecessary commentary sprinkled throughout also distracted from the point of the book.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Hailey Spillane 08-09-17
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    "Interesting, but too many post-scripts"

    It had a lot of controversial points on it especially when it was first published. Dawkins has added post script clarifications about many small details in the book. As a paper book, this book might be easier to finish because you could skip some of those unless you wanted more details on the author's thought process. In this edition, you're flooded with obscure facts, details and why Dawkins wrote what he did in the post scripts. "People didn't like when I said 'blah blah blah' because at the time people believed 'this other thing' and I'm right/wrong because of 'more elaboration'"

    I ultimately couldn't finish the last six hours of the book due to the annoying descriptions added in the post scripts which are difficult to skip.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Paul Hayes Dublin 07-17-17
    John Paul Hayes Dublin 07-17-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Dawkins narrated end notes are super annoying"

    This book came highly recommended to me by multiple friends and colleagues. I regret purchasing this audio version as the constant endnotes narrated by Dawkins I feel detracted from the entire flow of the book and thus I found it very hard to get into.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Honest John Berkeley, CA USA 06-20-17
    Honest John Berkeley, CA USA 06-20-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Fascinating, but spare us the academic bickering"

    The naration of the book is a bit fragmented, and therefore distracting, and Dawkins debating his academic rivals/critics gets tedious. But the ideas he presents are original, compelling and fascinating. Certainly has changed my view of the world. Well worth your time.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John L Murphy Los Angeles 11-02-16
    John L Murphy Los Angeles 11-02-16 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The immortal replicator"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes, if he or she had some patience for biology and some curiosity about genetics in detail. It rewards the careful listener, and while not a light read, it is accessible and stimulating.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The eleventh chapter on memes is exciting. Perhaps the best-known of the sections, although I am not sure Dawkins back in the mid-70s anticipated this via the Internet.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I liked discussions, embryonic given their later expansion into The God Delusion, of snippets of how religious beliefs were found erroneous or risible. Agree or not, this is memorable.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The fact that we lack any grand purpose other than to serve as vehicles for the immortal replicator. While Schopenhauer was never cited, this force that drives us to reproduce despite the consequences and drain on our resources and time is a sobering perspective.


    Any additional comments?

    The alternation of Dawkins' genial donnish tones and his partner Leila Ward's spry delivery is a great way to keep readers alert. They serve to discuss the material, with its updates for this 2011 presentation, and to show what has and has not changed in the subject since 1976

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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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.

    25 of 25 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    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.

    22 of 22 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).

    13 of 13 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.

    9 of 9 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.

    7 of 7 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.

    16 of 19 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.


    3 of 3 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.

    10 of 12 people found this review helpful
  • AD
    Cambridge United Kingdom
    9/8/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Too irritating to finish"

    Have you ever had a meeting with a salesman who is on a day out with his manager and every few minutes the manager chips in with corrections and comments? After about 30 minutes you're ready to throw them both out of your office. That's what its like listening to this book. Dawkins' wife reads the original text which is interpolated by Dawkins himself with commentary and end notes.

    The interruptions to the narrative are infuriating and I found myself grinding my teeth in anticipation of the next one. It doesn't help that Dawkins himself comes over as smug, superior and self-important.

    I already shared Dawkins point of view before I started the book but found myself wishing that I didn't.

    If you are going to add so much to your original work then you should re-write it.

    One that may be better read than listened to.

    6 of 7 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".

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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