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The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene [Paperback]

Richard Dawkins
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 18 2003 0192880519 978-0192880512 New Edition
By the best selling author of The Selfish Gene '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 '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, London Review of Books 'Dawkins is quite incapable of being boring this characteristically brilliant and stimulating book is original and provocative throughout, and immensely enjoyable.' G. A. Parker, Heredity 'The extended phenotype is certainly a big idea and it is pressed hard in dramatic language.' Sydney Brenner, Nature 'Richard Dawkins, our most radical Darwinian thinker, is also our best science writer.' Douglas Adams 'Dawkins is a superb communicator. His books are some of the best books ever written on science.' Megan Tressider, Guardian 'Dawkins is a genius of science popularization.' Mark Ridley, The Times

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The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene + The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary edition + Blind Watchmaker
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Product Description


"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

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is the first holder of Oxford's newly endowed Charles Simonyi Professorship of Public Understanding of Science. Born in Nairobi of British parents, Richard Dawkins was educated at Oxford and did his doctorate under the Nobel-prizewinning ethologist Niko Tinbergen. From 196769 he was an Assistant Professor at the University of California at Berkeley, then he returned to Oxford as University Lecturer (later Reader) and a Fellow of New College, before taking up his present position in 1995. Richard Dawkins's bestselling books have played a significant role in the renaissance of science book publishing for a general audience. The Selfish Gene (1976; second edition 1989) was followed by The Extended Phenotype (1982), The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), and Unweaving the Rainbow (1998). He has won many literary and scientific awards.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins does get it. Feb. 15 2003
One of the reviewers here claims that Dawkins doesn't get that evolution doesn't see individual genes, but only individual organisms. This person isn't getting Dawkins!! Dawkins is saying individuals are a products of complex genetic interplay and that the influence of genes (singly or in groups) can extend outside the individual. The individual-centric viewpoint is only a viewpoint.
In fact individuals are NOT selected by natural selection (all humans that have ever lived so far have eventually died!) GENES are selected -- albeit in groups since they reside together in an individual (this is their mini-environment)--though not permanently since recombination ensures genes will be shuffled regularly into new, though similar, micro-environments. My grandfathers genes live on -- though my grandfather is dead. Dawkins is repsenting a different viewpoint on GENETIC selection as he explains in the preface of the book. And it is a brilliant viewpoint. Genes have an influence on the world, that includes both the characterisitics and behaviors of individual organisms in which they reside as well as the behavior of organisms and artiftacts outside that individual. Really one of the great books in evolution.
Let me put it another way--Is a physicits wrong when he claims the desk I sit at is mostly empty space? Sure looks solid to me, I say. But at the micro-level the desk is indeed mostly empty space and if neurtrinos could talk they would surely attest to this fact. One has to open one's mind to see that Dawkin's gene-centric perspective is as valid as the old-fasioned model and indeed leads to new insights and illuminations. That's thw whole point of him presenting this view after all!!! Isn't that waht good theory is supposed to do?
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, also very difficult July 8 2002
Richard Dawkins is one of the most interesting popular science writers working today, and usually his books are filled with insight and perception about evolution (and other topics), written in clear and effective prose. This book is different from most of Dawkins's books, as it targets biologists rather than laypeople, and so it is a much more frustrating and difficult reading for such readers.
Frankly, if you are, like me, a lay person, don't read this book before reading other books by Dawkins, most notably The Selfish Gene, but also other stuff by him. I doubt I would have understood this book had it been my introduction to Dawkins's ideas. The glossary, though helpful, is far from complete and rarely detailed enough.
But for all this, The Extended Phenotype is richer in observations and ideas then any other book by Dawkins I have ever read. Dawkins says this is his best book, and you can see that he has a point.
The book has three main themes. The first is discussion of left over issues from The Selfish Gene, answering criticism and elaborating on the ideas in that book. The second is clarifying some issues in discussion of evolution, such as replicators and vehicles, fitness, etc. The third one, and the one for which Dawkins is most proud is his 'Extended Phenotype' - the concept that genes operate on the enviornment, and that the body (the individual organism) is a link in the chain of orders passing from DNA to the external phenotype - beaver dams or host behaviour that helps the parasite, or any other activity that helps the genes.
Frankly, the concept of the extended phenotype is best explained in the chapter about 'The Long reach of the gene' in the new (1989) edition of 'The Selfish Gene'.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, some questionable reviews Aug. 18 2002
By Steve C
This is science writing at its best. Dawkins goes further with his argument in favor of the gene-as-unit-of-selection to attack the traditional view of the individual as the unit of selection. Along with taking the reader on a tour through the facts and the state of research of modern evolutionary biology, this book is one of the best exhibits of writing persuasively - where persuasion falls out from the facts and theory presented, all the while being 100% intellectually honest...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essentials of life's story March 4 2001
By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME TOP 500 REVIEWER
Biodiversity is more than a buzzword for ecologists. Variation gives life its grandeur, and Richard Dawkins gives us a description of the workings of variation. Fortunately, with a sharp mind and sharper wit, he has the ability to deliver this portrayal so that nearly everyone can understand it. That's not to say this book is an easy read. Although he delivers his narration as if sitting with you in a quiet study, you may still need to review his words more than once. That's not a challenge or a chore, it's a pleasure.
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.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars This is not as much a popular science book as ...
This is not as much a popular science book as it is the introduction of a new hypothesis. So if you are looking for a quick read look elsewhere.
Published 1 month ago by Ben
5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the general public! But great science book!
This book is not for the general public, especially the first 10 chapters. It get very technical sometime, even for a molecular biology student like me. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Dom
5.0 out of 5 stars A more subtle sequel to The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins tells you this his favourite book he has written, and in many ways is the culmination of his contribution to evolutionary biology. Read more
Published on June 25 2011 by bmk
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book!
The extended phenotype is a follow-up to Dawkin's greatest book, The Selfish Gene. Although most widely known for his attack on theology in The God Delusion, The Selfish Gene and... Read more
Published on Feb. 17 2009 by A. Volk
1.0 out of 5 stars Why Will Dawkins not admit he's wrong
Dawkins refuses to let it go. Astrobiology and microbiology is pushing the final nail in the coffin of this ultra-Darwinist garbage. Read more
Published on Aug. 4 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good, but a bit too technical for my taste.
I once bought this book at a university bookstore, but I later returned it. It was ok I guess, but a bit too technical for my tastes -- it's more something I'd rather check out... Read more
Published on March 12 2003 by "aaron_of_mpls"
2.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins: brilliant but dense reading
1) The fine print is hard on the eyes.
2) Dawkins' brilliant points are buried between tendentious rebuttals of criticism of his own prior works, and belabored claims of... Read more
Published on July 10 2002 by j. newcombe
1.0 out of 5 stars Pseudoscience
This book is a version of Dawkins previous book the Selfish Gene, which is supposed to be aimed at the scientific community, in stead of the general public. Why Mr. Read more
Published on March 19 2002 by Mohammad Nor Syamsu
4.0 out of 5 stars Circular reasoning
Since Charles Darwin, evolutionary theorists have been defending the common descent of all life. What is interesting to notice is that evolutionists don't really have hard evidence... Read more
Published on March 6 2002 by Jonatas Machado
5.0 out of 5 stars The trade secret of evolutionary theory
Emotions, intuitions and pre-understandings can be a part of the scienfic process, as long as they are stated clearly and publicly. Read more
Published on Oct. 4 2001 by Jonatas Machado
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