Press Release: The Selfish Gene
Prefaces and introduction by the author
‘Learned, witty, and very well written … exhilaratingly good’
Richard Dawkins took up the story of evolution essentially where Darwin had left off and his startling theory has become the de facto text on social development. Since its first publication in 1976, The Selfish Gene has been translated into 25 languages, and is considered one of the most important scientific works of the late 20th century. Dawkins’s story takes in a vast array of creatures from polar bears to blackheaded gulls and vampire bats, and behaviour from cannibalism and deception to aggression and mating.
Updated to include Dawkins’s own 40th Anniversary Epilogue, this Folio edition is the first to add illustrations to the illustrious work: 51 incredible photographs from nature and laboratory that add weight to the text and further explain the ground-breaking concepts.
Dawkins’s key theory is that, in evolutionary terms, the good of the individual far outweighs the good of the species. If a ground-nesting bird sacrifices herself to a fox to protect her offspring, this is not done out of an altruistic desire to preserve the species, but to perpetuate the genes she carries – called, for this reason, ‘selfish’. Genes are of course not selfish in themselves and Dawkins doesn’t ascribe motivations to them, instead he uses the term to explain the behaviour of the ‘survival machines’ – or animals and humans – that carry them.
Dawkins explains why members of a species, though they compete, do not try to eradicate each other – one answer being that this would leave them vulnerable to even more dangerous predators. His arguments find many parallels in human social behaviour – such as ‘the prisoner’s dilemma’ of defection or cooperation, and why we actively choose healthy and unrelated mates. However, his overall aim is to study the effect of behaviour and not its moral worth. Removing value-judgements from the study of evolutionary biology, Dawkins opens our eyes to evolution as a fascinating and never-ending struggle for survival.
Bound in blocked cloth. Set in Sabon with Optima display. 416 pages. 51 colour illustrations. 9½˝ x 6¼˝
UK £42.95 US $69.95 Can $84.95 Aus $96.95
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