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The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Popular Science) Paperback – 4 Mar 1999
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The Extended Phenotype is a sequel to The Selfish Gene ... he writes so clearly it could be understood by anyone prepared to make the effort (John Maynard Smith, LRB)
This entertaining and thought-provoking book is an excellent illustration of why the study of evolution is in such an exciting ferment these days. (Science)
Voted 'Author of the Year' at the Galaxy British Book Awards 2007See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
This book was marketed as the sequel to The Selfish Gene, and chronologically it certainly was. However, the book is far more scholarly in its approach and for that reason is different in tone from Dawkins' other major works. Dawkins states at the outset that he is writing primarily for the professional biologist, but that anyone who makes the effort may understand and enjoy the work (I paraphrase).
This is true. With occasional reference to the helpful and educational glossary provided at the back of the book, I found it easy to make progress, to enjoy and to follow the arguments presented. I highly recommend this to all professionals, and to all others who may have read Dawkins' other works and feel ready to go deeper.
This book follows on from "The Selfish Gene" and in it, Dawkins argues that the phonotypic effects of genes do not stop at the limits of the organisms that carry them. He suggests, for example, that the phenotypic expression of beaver genes stretch right to the edges of the lakes formed by their dams and the genes of some parasites are expressed in their hosts. So a snail might behave in a manner that puts itself in harm's way because the fluke living inside it has, somehow, managed to modify the snail's behaviour for its own ends - say to continue its life cycle inside one of the snail's predators. That is to say, the snail's behaviour is maximizing the survival of fluke genes rather than snail genes.Read more ›
This is a really good treatment of that subject - you are unlikely to find any better.
Dawkins, unlike other science writers, is forthright in declaring his advocacy in writing this book. It's a refreshing start to his most serious effort. After publication of The Selfish Gene led to a storm of fatuous criticism, Extended Phenotype comes in response with more detail of how the gene manifests itself in the organism and its environment. It's clear that Dawkins' critics, who label him an "Ultra-Darwinist" [whatever that is] haven't read this book. His critics frequently argue that The Selfish Gene doesn't operate in a vacuum, but must deal within some kind of environment, from an individual cell to global scenarios. Dawkins deftly responds to critics in describing how genes rely on their environment for successful replication. If the replication doesn't survive in the environment it finds itself, then it, and perhaps its species, will die out.
The child's favourite question, "why" is difficult enough for parents and teachers to answer. Yet, as thinking humans we've become trained to deal with that question nearly every context. So well drilled that we consider something for which that question has no answer to be suspicious if not insidious. Part of Dawkins presentation here reiterates that there is no "why" to either the process of evolution nor its results.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Arrived very quick! book helped with University assignment and some good references on genetic behaviours and ethology. Good seller.Published 9 months ago by mediamiss
In this fascinating and wonderfully written volume, Dawkins disects and examines the long reach of the gene and looks at the subtle ways in which the behaviour of one species can... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Daryle Watson
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