Customer Reviews


183 Reviews
5 star:
 (119)
4 star:
 (30)
3 star:
 (16)
2 star:
 (6)
1 star:
 (12)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


208 of 228 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, and an utterly compelling read
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...
Published on 28 Jun 2006 by D. P. G. Bellinger

versus
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Probably not for the self-respecting scientist.
I'll stop short of saying I hated it, but I really did not enjoy the book after some high expectations.

Being a biologist, I was very much looking forward to reading up on the theory of evolution and natural selection in this popularised form (having only experienced the textbook version). However, as other reviewers have mentioned, I found the style very dry,...
Published 3 months ago by parag bhavsar


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Probably not for the self-respecting scientist., 20 Sep 2014
This review is from: The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition (Paperback)
I'll stop short of saying I hated it, but I really did not enjoy the book after some high expectations.

Being a biologist, I was very much looking forward to reading up on the theory of evolution and natural selection in this popularised form (having only experienced the textbook version). However, as other reviewers have mentioned, I found the style very dry, overly wordy and to be honest, very repetitive. I persisted through the first two chapters but then glancing through other chapters (in the hope that things would improve) I saw the same concept applied to different aspects of the species from physiology to behaviour and I just could not bear being beaten over the head with the same idea over and over again. Ok Dawkins, you had a good idea, but a whole book? Really?

The book at the moment has two problems for me. The first is its age. I think people going to university in the 90s and 00s must have learnt about evolution/natural selection with Dawkins' ideas in the background anyway and so probably the novelty of the concept has worn off over time. Second, is that Dawkins has taken a vaguely interesting idea too far. A thinking person will not buy into his many assumptions, oversights (especially in the second chapter) and sometimes circular arguments. It then becomes very difficult to stay with the author on his journey once you feel his scientific footing is dodgy.

I can see why the book has gained popularity among non-scientists as it does make Darwin's ideas accessible and his (many) examples are well-illustrated. Those already familiar with Evolution and Natural Selection: be warned.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


208 of 228 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, and an utterly compelling read, 28 Jun 2006
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. And if you ever feel a bit stuck, a captivating, and often extremely bizarre, illustration is selected from the animal kingdom to clarify the point. Dawkins is also refreshingly willing to state that certain aspects of this theory are +the truth+, a brave claim in our muddled, PC society.

I would therefore thoroughly recommend this book to the general reader. It's stuffed with hugely stimulating concepts (Dawkins' own 'meme', or replicating idea, is a paricularly rich one), and wonderful snapshots of the animal kingdom. Be warned though, it may take over your life for a while - personally I feel tempted to jack everything in and go and take a bilogy degree!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins is an Essential read, 9 Dec 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition (Paperback)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


113 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Dawkins is a great teacher, 14 Oct 2006
By 
M. de Boer (Zuidlaren, Drenthe, The Netherlands) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


126 of 142 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an inspirational piece of work, 21 Oct 2006
By 
Mike J. Wheeler (Kingswinford, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book - dreadful mistakes in Kindle edition, 1 May 2012
By 
G. Harris "Gill" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Wonderful book, let's say that up front. There are however SO MANY annoying mistakes in the Kindle edition and this is SUCH a shame! Especially with dates. eg 19705 for 1970s and 19805 for 1980s.
In the 'Extracts from Reviews' the first (Pro bono publico) was (will be rofl) written in 7977. Then in 'Genes and Memes' we see 'during the 19605 and 19705'. This is just sloppy.
I've picked those 2 because it was easier to back-page to find them, than to search the whole book for the other spelling mistakes. But there are lots. I'm just a reader, not a proof-reader, so the errors should have been picked up by a professional before publication. Gill.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended, 21 Jan 2009
By 
A. Patterson (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The Selfish Gene is in a way rather like the antithesis of Lynn Margulis' & Dorion Sagan's Microcosmos. Richard Dawkins, erudite Oxford professor, is basically the voice of reductionist competition. He is by far the most ruthless and logical exponent of Neo Darwinism; masterful passionate, and his book The Selfish Gene is richly drawn from the colourful well of nature in order to back up his claims. His basic idea is that the gene is the ultimate agent of evolution; not the organism, not the population. In fact, he terms organisms as `survival machines', as mere vehicles to lug around genes (another acclaimed title by Richard Dawkins is The Blind Watchmaker). This has huge knock on effects for population dynamics, social organisation, even raising the perspective of gender competition, and generational competition in terms of gene replication. This leads one to the conclusion that life is a soulless, mathematical computational program in which gene expression is a war of survival. Well, I will let you draw your own conclusions from the book, but I recommend it here to demonstrate to you how sometimes radically different approaches in biology can yield similar conclusions; the last few chapters of The Selfish Gene discuss altruism, cooperation, evolutionary stable strategies (ESS), and memes (or thought genes) which bears a resemblance to the language of Microcosmos. My two copies of these books sit side by side on my bookshelf bickering like an old married couple.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Convoluted message, 29 Nov 2014
By 
C. B. Inns - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition (Paperback)
Apparently there is a current debate between E O Wilson and Dawkins and so I thought that I would pick up a copy of the Selfish Gene and try to get the hang of the latter's arguments. After about a third of the book I realised that I was feeling exactly the same as when I tried to read the Blind Watchmaker. Whatever the merits of Dawkins' intelligence and insights he just does not seem to be able to write in a straightforward fashion. I have great sympathy for the other reviewers who find his style verbose, wandering and perhaps somewhat smug. High marks for those who manage to pick the essential bones out of his writing and even greater praise for those who actually manage to finish the book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting theories, arrogant author, 9 Dec 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition (Paperback)
This book could be a good book, if the author made it clear that most of the ideas in it are really just speculations, as they have never been proven. Yes, everyone knows that genes have an important role in inheritance, but whether they have the role the author and many others believe they do, has not been proven by anyone. There are many scientist that believe that genes cannot contain all the information needed to build e.g. an organ, and considering that in spite of all the efforts, nobody could prove the opposite, it would be probably a good idea to take them more seriously and point this out in a book like this.

My other complaint is about the author's attitude towards people who do not agree with this book: in his view, they are all intellectually challenged, religious folks. And this is very disappointing from a scientist, as he behaves exactly like some religious fanatic: if you cannot understand something, then revert to your beliefs. I guess it would help if he were more curious, more humble and had a lot smaller ego.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Worthy Addition to Any Library, 22 Nov 2011
By 
John Dexter - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 219 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition
The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition by Richard Dawkins (Paperback - 16 Mar 2006)
£6.29
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews