Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Selfish Gene

Title: The Selfish Gene
Author: Richard Dawkins
Genre: Non-fiction
Published: 2006 (1976 original edition)

Recommendation: If you have any inclination for the topic, this is a good introductory book.
Rating: 8/10

Summary: An overview of the theory of evolution from gene-centric point of view. This book expounds on the idea of evolution selecting not the fittest individual organism or group, but rather takes a gene as a unit of selection that's propagated between generations.

Reactions: Biology was one of the subjects I almost completely ignored in high school. The memorization component made it less attractive than chemistry or physics and my background in biology thus pretty limited. Nevertheless, after reading A Short History of Nearly Everything, I thought the genetics was a particularly intriguing topic and so when I came across The Selfish Gene on sale, I didn't hesitate to buy it.

It turned out to be a very interesting book indeed, presenting the theory of evolution in a light that I haven't heard of before. Given this was first published in 1976, I may be pretty late to find out about this, but better late than never, right? In any case the book is well-written and easy to understand without any particular background necessary to understand the arguments.

Dawkins does a good job explaining his theory and the competing theories as well as showing the evidence for his ideas. Often the evidence is based on the studies of a particular species and I thought the case studies made for particularly interesting parts of the book. All in all, The Selfish Gene was a good introduction into the subject and I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in the details of the theory of evolution.

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