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202 of 222 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

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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book - dreadful mistakes in Kindle edition
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...
Published on 1 May 2012 by G. Harris


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars good book, 19 Aug 2013
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MR (Johannesburg, South Africa) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Selfish Gene (MP3 CD)
An interesting concept: we are the tools of our genes, those genes that are successful in keeping their host alive until he of she has produced offspring become more numerous in the gene pool at the expense of alternative genes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On time and in great shape, 10 Mar 2013
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I bought this book for my boyfriend. I was really happy that it was in great shape since it's used. He loves the book and after he's finished with it I plan on reading it too.
The author thought of the people who were going to read the book since it is easy to understand.
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34 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truth stranger than fiction, 3 April 2007
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Andrew Barrett (UK) - See all my reviews
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I read The Selfish Gene (2nd edition, 1989) because it is one of the twenty books Charlie Munger recommends in the second edition of Poor Charlie's Almanack (which I have recently read and recommend very strongly indeed).

I'm going to quote Dawkins from the preface to the original edition as he provides an excellent summary of the central message of the book and its effect upon him (and me):

"We are survival machines - robot vehicles blindly programmed to preserve the selfish molecules known as genes. This is a truth which still fills me with astonishment. Though I have known it for years, I never seem to get fully used to it."

Using one of the many excellent analogies utilised throughout his book, Dawkins explains that we are like a chess computer program that has been programmed by its creator to play in its absence. The programmer (genes) takes no part in the game (life) but instead provides the tools for its vehicle (animal, plant etc.) to play the game on its behalf.

I am glad that Dawkins says that he never gets fully used to this idea. I find it very difficult to replace the idea of my primacy in my body with the idea above. It requires a sort of `flip' in one's perception - but it is so different to what our senses tell us that it flips back without a conscious effort (or so I find, anyway). But how many of us have not regularly had to do battle with themselves to do what they know they should do rather than what they feel an urge to do? Dawkins' ideas provide an excellent framework in which to help understand these problems, which I suspect is a major part of the reason why Munger recommended this book.

For example, Munger believes that what he calls `reward and punishment superresponse tendency' is the most powerful of the psychological biases that affect humans (and other animals). Dawkins provides a very convincing explanation of why this should be the case: because it is a method that the programmer (genes) can use to provide rules that its vehicle (us) can use to learn to cope with its environment better in the absence of the programmer. It is thus much more efficient than providing an endless number of detailed rules and copes with the problem of an environment that may be different to that `expected' by the genes. Even so, these rules do not always help us today - for example it helps to explain why rich societies have a problem with obesity: our genes did not expect us to have access to such plenty that the rule to reward us for putting sweet things into our mouths would cause problems.

Our selfish, almost immortal genes do not care about us - their short-term, throwaway vehicles. We should also expect to find that we have been programmed with selfish behaviour in our creators' image. However, he makes two very important caveats, which mean that overall I think the book has a rather hopeful message:

1. We are likely to have a statistical propensity towards selfishness, but that does not mean that individually we are doomed to that behaviour. We have a choice.

2. In my favourite chapter, `Nice guys finish first' (one of the two chapters added for the 2nd edition) Dawkins uses the Prisoner's Dilemma gambling game to show that if certain conditions are met (which often are in nature), paradoxically, the best outcome is for selfish individuals to cooperate. And that the `good' character traits of niceness, forgivingness and non-enviousness can therefore be the most successful.

I believe that unless we wish to rely on luck throughout our lives we need to embrace reality as closely as possible, which is what a first-rate book like Dawkins' helps us to do.
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31 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, clear, completely understandable and believable, 7 April 2007
By 
Mr. Stuart Bruce "DonQuibeats" (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
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In the original preface of the book, Dawkins says that he aims to make his meaning clear to three different types of reader- the expert, the layman, and the student. Speaking as a layman I found this book very accessible. The analogies and examples that pepper the book are all clear and memorable.

Other reviewers have done a much better job than I could of summarising the contents of the book, so I will be brief. Principally, this book is about balance. The way Dawkins describes it, the swinging-pendulum approach to evolution, genetic success and failure, 'cause and effect', makes total sense.

This is a straightforward discussion of the fundamentals of life, a complete theory and set of principles (I'd steer away from the word 'rules'), to the extent that you end up feeling that you can take any event, trend, or habit, from society or from nature, and use the selfish gene principle to explain it.

On reading this book I can understand now why Richard Dawkins was a fan of the work of Douglas Adams, and vice versa. In a strange sort of way, this book is to fact what Adams' work is to fiction.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life-altering, 11 Sep 2012
By 
Charles (Paris, France) - See all my reviews
This book changed my understanding of the world and life. It should be required reading for anyone studying biology, history or sociology, because it explains so much and answers so many questions about animals' actions and motives (humans and non-humans).

By demonstrating that instead of animals using genes to live and then... pass on our genes (the illogical way most people view life), genes are the replicators that "use" us (the body) to preserve them until replication, Dawkins created a whole new paradigm, and shone a new light on the mechanism of evolution.

The book is easy to read but not overly simple (unlike his latest books which seem to be written for first graders and are thus unbearably slow and condescending) and is a real page turner (which is quite a feat for a science book).
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where the meme began., 28 Jun 2012
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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 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Changed my mind, 6 Jun 2012
Read this book.It gives detailed examples of animal behaviour to back up every stage of his theory. A theory which makes the vague 'theory of evolution' complete and gives it a watertight logical basis.While this can be a bit daunting (there is a great deal of misinformation about this book, some of it disingenuous and some clearly written by people who just don't understand it), it is well worth persevering.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The greatest book since The Origin of Species, 19 May 2012
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The most thought provoking book I have ever read. This should be taught in all schools. Dawkins arguments are clear and easily understood. It is not an exaggeration to say that it has changed my perception of the world around me. I have now read all Dawkins books. I would also recommend (particularly for people new to popular science) his latest book The Magic of Reality. He is a truly inspirational person who works tirelessly to defeat ignorance and has helped many people to cast the dogma of religious mumbo jumbo.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A difficult book to understand, however it gave me ..., 10 July 2014
A difficult book to understand, however it gave me a more experienced and developed understanding for my AS biology.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, 6 July 2014
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An amazing book !
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