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The Ancestor's Tale  By  cover art

The Ancestor's Tale

By: Richard Dawkins
Narrated by: Richard Dawkins,Lalla Ward
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Publisher's summary

The Ancestor's Tale is a pilgrimage back through time - a journey on which we meet up with fellow pilgrims as we and they converge on our common ancestors. Chimpanzees join us at about six million years in the past, gorillas at seven million years, orangutans at 14 million years, as we stride on together, a growing band.

The journey provides the setting for a collection of some 40 tales. Each explores an aspect of evolutionary biology through the stories of characters met along the way or glimpsed from afar: the Elephant Bird's Tale, the Marsupial Mole's Tale, the Lungfish's Tale. Together they give a deep understanding of the processes that have shaped life on Earth: convergent evolution, the isolation of populations, continental drift, and the great extinctions.

©2004 Richard Dawkins (P)2004 Orion Publishing Group Ltd

What listeners say about The Ancestor's Tale

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • C.
  • 04-11-09

Very abridged, but fascinating anyway

This audio version is a very much abridged version. It is frustrating when listening to the many parts and tales that are mentioned by title, but left out of this version. Because, Richard Dawkins is always a good listen. Occasionally he goes onto my nerves with his heightened language and strange poems added in weightfull speech. However, the story he has to tell is engaging, the perspective of a pilgrimage back through time, meeting common ancestors we have with all life on Earth is a unique one. Each and every one of the individual tales are a fascinating read. I was most intrigued by the discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of sexual reproduction - unbelievable that such a basic property of life is not understood - what a great problem to work on.
Did I mention that it is too bad that this book is abridged?

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10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

student of biological sciences

a brilliant text on evolution.
very entertaining, with appropriate focus given to the most significant historical diversions.
a pleasure to have listened to

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6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Decent

I like Dawkins' works but this one was not his best. Still a good book.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Like a slug of brain tonic

Would you consider the audio edition of The Ancestor's Tale to be better than the print version?

Yes, second best only to attending a Dawkins lecture at Oxford.

What did you like best about this story?

Like all of Richard Dawkins' books, listening to The Ancestor's Tale feels like downing a brain tonic - an exhilarating joy ride through time. Only criticism is that is leaves you thirsty for more!

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

Thoroughly enjoyed the duet-style narration by the author and Lalla Ward.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Not-so-common perspective on evolution

Which character – as performed by Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward – was your favorite?

Both were good readers. Obviously Dawkins is an experienced lecturer and reads his own book as well as anyone could. However, the constant change between the two readers (one might read the main text while the other reads quotations, and then this is reversed in next chapter) was annoying interruption in the flow of the narration.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

yenruoj elbayojne nA

Would you listen to The Ancestor's Tale again? Why?

seY, I liked the execution of the idea of going backwards in time, and I am specially interested in the theory of Evolution and all of its implications.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Ancestor's Tale?

The explanation about the RNA world hypothesis.

Which character – as performed by Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward – was your favorite?

We, humans!

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

The explanation about all of the experiments that have been and are being carried out trying to figure out the mechanisms through which live can come about from inanimate matter.

When after recognizing all of the misuse and abuse of racial classification Richard explains why race does have a very useful taxonomical function.

Any additional comments?

The explanation about the RNA world was just wonderful.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

The Travel of Our Lives

What did you love best about The Ancestor's Tale?

The bit about the RNA world, a theory about how life could have emerged from simpler molecules that have a superior balance between self-replicating and catalystic capabilities than DNA and proteins have.

What other book might you compare The Ancestor's Tale to and why?

Dawkins' another book, The Blind Watchmaker

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

This couple is just wonderful. I heard the Blind Watchmaker as well, and that was a perfect performance as well. Engaging and humorous, hard to stop listening to.

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

Last chapter, when Dawkins reflects about the reverence to the wonderful universe we live in that only science can really bring us.

Any additional comments?

Every time I read or listen to Dawkins, my further reading increases 2 years long. There is much to be learned from this figure ;)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

If all audio books were this good .....

I've read the book and listened to the audio book.
Although the audio is an abridged version, I enjoyed it more.
Dawkins is as brilliant a speaker as he is a writer and Lalla Ward is the perfect complement.
One plus one = three.
Together they make the understanding of a complex subject effortless and pleasurable.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • I
  • 02-10-10

For the converted

For those who accept Darwin's ideas this is a an entertaining and interesting book. Mr Dawkins does like to preach sometimes but he has a pleasant and engaging style and these passages are not uniteresting.

A pity that it is abridged.

For those (Americans) who don't accept Darwin, Dawkins's erudition will leave you seething. So best give it a miss.

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