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The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition [Paperback]

Richard Dawkins
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
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Book Description

16 Mar 2006
The million copy international bestseller, critically acclaimed and translated into over 25 languages. This 30th anniversary edition includes a new introduction from the author as well as the original prefaces and foreword, and extracts from early reviews. As relevant and influential today as when it was first published, The Selfish Gene has become a classic exposition of evolutionary thought. Professor Dawkins articulates a gene's eye view of evolution - a view giving centre stage to these persistent units of information, and in which organisms can be seen as vehicles for their replication. This imaginative, powerful, and stylistically brilliant work not only brought the insights of Neo-Darwinism to a wide audience, but galvanized the biology community, generating much debate and stimulating whole new areas of research.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; 3rd Revised edition edition (16 Mar 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199291152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199291151
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.6 x 0.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Richard Dawkins first catapulted to fame with his iconic work The Selfish Gene, which he followed with a string of bestselling books: The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor's Tale, The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Magic of Reality, and a collection of his shorter writings, A Devil's Chaplain.

Dawkins is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the Royal Society of Literature Award (1987), the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society (1990), the International Cosmos Prize for Achievement in Human Science (1997), the Kistler Prize (2001), the Shakespeare Prize (2005), the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science (2006), the Galaxy British Book Awards Author of the Year Award (2007), the Deschner Prize (2007) and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest (2009). He retired from his position as the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University in 2008 and remains a fellow of New College.

In 2012, scientists studying fish in Sri Lanka created Dawkinsia as a new genus name, in recognition of his contribution to the public understanding of evolutionary science. In the same year, Richard Dawkins appeared in the BBC Four television series Beautiful Minds, revealing how he came to write The Selfish Gene and speaking about some of the events covered in his latest book, An Appetite for Wonder. In 2013, Dawkins was voted the world's top thinker in Prospect magazine's poll of 10,000 readers from over 100 countries.

Product Description

Review

"A genuine cultural landmark of our time." -- The Independent

"Review from previous edition The sort of popular science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius." -- New York Times

"The Selfish Gene is a classic." -- Robin McKie, The Observer

Here is a genuine cultural landmark of our time. -- The Independent, 10 March 2006

It's a classic that's still relevant today. -- Daily Express, 17 March 2006

About the Author


Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, a Fellow of the Royal Society and of the Royal Society of Literature, and an international lecturer. His acclaimed books include The Extended Phenotype, a more technical sequel to TheSelfish Gene, and The Blind Watchmaker, which won the Royal Society of Literature Award and the Los Angeles Times Prize, both in 1987. His other bestsellers include River out of Eden, Climbing Mount Impossible, Unweaving the Rainbow, and the A Devil's Chaplain. His most recent book is The Ancestor'sTale.
Professor Dawkins is the recipient of many prizes and honors, including the Shakespeare Prize, the Silver Medal of the Zoological Society of London, the Royal Society's Michael Faraday Award, the Nakayama Prize for Achievement in Human Science, The International Cosmos Prize, and the Kistler Prize.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Intelligent life on a planet comes of age when it first works out the reason for its own existence. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
198 of 218 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, and an utterly compelling read 28 Jun 2006
Format:Hardcover
While you might expect Dawkins' classic to be terrifically interesting (and you'd be right), you'd probably expect it to be a bit of a slog. In this respect you'd be completely mistaken - it flows beautifully, and is seriously difficult to put down. And the whole way through you have the wonderful sense that you're being educated as well as entertained.

The book starts right from first principles, describing a plausible theory for the origin of life, and explaining how more and more complex molecules could have formed in the 'primaeval soup'. Eventually a molecule arose that could replicate itself, and life has never looked back. Dawkins goes on to define a gene, which turns out to be quite an important step (I thought I knew what the word meant already, but I was wrong), and relates how genes have indirect control over what he calls 'gene machines', i.e. living things. Subsequent chapters then detail various survival strategies, 'altruism' and how it can be explained genetically, tensions between sexes and generations, and a new replicator, the 'meme'.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the way that Dawkins draws on game theory to assess mathematically the most sensible way for a gene machine to act. In particular, the sections on 'the Prisoner's Dilemma' (a specific game theory scenario which crops up all over the place in nature) are, to me at least, a radical new way of thinking of many problems in (human) life, and how we should approach them. It could have ramifications for politics, social policy, economics, and the environment, to name only a few. Like all the difficult concepts in this book, Dawkins explains this simply and thoroughly, and the reader never feels patronised.
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124 of 139 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an inspirational piece of work 21 Oct 2006
Format:Paperback
This is a landmark piece of writing without any doubt. This was in fact the book that sparked a whole genre. Until the success of 'The Selfish Gene' popular science writing was spectacularly under-read. After this popular science sections became noticeable in every self-respecting bookshop.

The book itself tackles what in essence could be a very difficult subject (the level at which natural selection acts) but it articulates it so well. Many since have tried to contribute to the debate but none have the prose skills of Dawkins nor the ability to put over a difficult subject with the reader seeing it as outstandingly obvious and common sense. Dawkins also initiates the idea of the meme as a unit of cultural evolution here for the first time. In the long run this may turn out to be Dawkins biggest original contribution to science and it has spawned many books on the subject since.

I have a particular fondness for this book. It was having read this and 'The Blind Watchmaker' which sent me back to full-time education at the age of 29 to read Genetics and subsequently develop a career in science myself. Truly an inspirational piece of work - one of the outstanding books of the Twentieth Century.
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110 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Dawkins is a great teacher 14 Oct 2006
Format:Hardcover
As far as evolutionary biology's concerned I'm very interested, but nevertheless a layman. Richard Dawkins has however the rare ability to explain any scientifically difficult subject to practically everybody. His style is easy to read, very understandable, sometimes funny, and he uses very good examples to explain. Anybody having difficulties to understand evolution (and there are many out there) should read Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. A very good book: convincing, informative, readable book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where the meme began. 28 Jun 2012
By Sam D
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Before Dawkins aimed to be controversial and attempted to win the award of the most hated man by all religion, he was a serious author and scholar. This book explains, what is now considered, one of the core concepts of evolution and is a must read for anyone interested in the topic. His examples are well explained throughout the book and, as a whole, the book is extremely well written.
I would recommend this book to anyone interested in evolution and/or Dawkins before he went of the rails.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins is an Essential read 9 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What an I say? Dawkins is such a great example of an educator, it is impossible to say anything uncomplementary about his literary eye-openers. This is an essential to anyone's home library.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Addition to Any Library 22 Nov 2011
Format:Paperback
It's ironic that I should have read one of Dawkins' earliest works after reading his newest - doubly so given that the quality of the former eclipses that of the latter by a substantial margin. The Selfish Gene represents Dawkins at his very best: lucid and witty without ever sacrificing his intellectual rigour, he presents his arguments with an unassailable logic that precludes disagreement. Perhaps it is a cliché, but everyone who has an interest in Darwinian evolution should read this book.

That said, there are times when Dawkins belabours some of his points unnecessarily and, occasionally, over-indulges his proclivity for observing the niceties of academic modesty, but the prose never ceases to sparkle and these minor issues really are the harshest criticisms I can muster! The 30th anniversary edition has been updated with some insightful endnotes that enhance (but not interrupt) the original text and bring The Selfish Gene up to date, making it a worthy addition to any library collection.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
Great explanation of the gene centric view of evolution, many interesting examples to back up Dawkins theories, and even explanations for difficult to explain instances of... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Squink
5.0 out of 5 stars superb
All virtues, no defects. Clear, interesting, innovative. A gem of science popularization, very well written, that changed the perspective about what genes (and other replicators)... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Damian Gil Bello
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant on our stable or 'selfish' genes.
An absolutely brilliant account of how evolution works via the DNA gene, shaped as a spiral or double helix. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ami Hjorth
5.0 out of 5 stars A very refreshing read
Probably Richard Dawkins' best known work, still a good read 30 years after publication. As well as emphasising the credibility of Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory, it opens... Read more
Published 2 months ago by jaketheplumber
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Read
This was the first Dawkins book I have read;

The only other book I have read in relation to this field is "Origin of species", fortunately it is referenced a bit... Read more
Published 2 months ago by David Woodward
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but beware.
I read this back in 1991. It was a revelation and it is one of the few books that genuinely shifts the scientific paradigm and social consciousness. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Nicholas
3.0 out of 5 stars Who is selfish here??????
Darwin writes like a scientist. Clear, structured, observant. This is not the case with Richard Dawkins. Read more
Published 3 months ago by harry wagner
4.0 out of 5 stars The Selfish Gene
Although I enjoyed this book, it is not one I would re-read. Sadly I found it difficult to read as a commuter.
Published 3 months ago by SuzCole
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins - Selfish Gene
This is a great book for the lay person who just has an interest in the science of evolution and doesn't want to get too technical. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mrs. D. Cameron
1.0 out of 5 stars A Misleading Metaphor
Dawkins suggests that the affairs of living things are organised so as to increase the frequency of certain genes, those that with hindsight may be described as the ones most... Read more
Published 5 months ago by DAG Cook
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