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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins does get it.
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...
Published on Feb. 15 2003 by K. Curtin

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good, but not easy to read.
If you liked The selfish gene, you are not necesary going to like this one, it is heavier to read, and it's certainly not a bedside book, unlike T.S.G., this book work with more complex concepts, I could not recomend this book unless you are taking the subject seriously.
Published on Sept. 19 2000 by Javier Bonet Cuervo


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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins does get it., Feb. 15 2003
By 
K. Curtin (Hamden, CT USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, some questionable reviews, Aug. 18 2002
By 
Steve C (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
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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4.0 out of 5 stars This is not as much a popular science book as ..., July 5 2014
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This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the general public! But great science book!, Nov. 2 2013
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This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
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. So the first 10 chapters are more of a response to the critics of Dawkins first book (Selfish Gene), adresse to proffessional biologist. The real meat of the book is located in the last chapters, where example and definitions of extended phenotypes are given. Overall this will contribute greatly to your understanding of evolution (mainly the last part of the book), might even come handy in a biology exam, but I prefered the Selfish Gene. I understand why this is the book Dawkins is more proud of, because in this one he really develop an idea of his own (while the selfish gene was more of a compilation of different point of view)
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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
By 
Omer Belsky (Haifa, Israel) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
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'. The book is actually best when Dawkins deals with the two other themes -difining genes for example, and discussing replicators. Those chapters are masterworks of clear, essential thinking, of which Dawkins is always a champion.
Finally, one would wish that the book was updated. Many discussions are based on information that at the time was brand new, and follow up would be useful. uinfortunately, Dunnet's afterword does not do the trick, and is more of a hymn to Dawkins (albeit a justified one) than anything else.
'The Extended Phenotype' is not an easy read, but it is definetly worth it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book!, Feb. 17 2009
By 
A. Volk (Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
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 The Extended Phenotype are Dawkin's two best books by far.

As has been mentioned by other reviewers, the basic premise is that genes can influence organisms and even environments outside of their body. So a beaver can evolve genes for shaping the landscape (e.g., building a dam). It's a very clever idea, and it profoundly illustrates the power and importance of genes in evolution. As in The Selfish Gene, Dawkins backs up his assertions with plenty of evidence. The negative reviews are obviously from people who don't understand or agree with evolution because this book is a very solid piece of science.

This is a fantastic, must-read book for every student of evolution. For the average layperson, I'd recommend The Selfish Gene first, then this book. You'll never look at nature in the same way again!
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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 (Ottawa, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
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. Part of Dawkins presentation here reiterates that there is no "why" to either the process of evolution nor its results. It isn't predictable, inevitable or reasonable. It's a tough situation to cope with, but Dawkins describes the mechanism with such precision and clarity, we readily understand "how" if not "why" evolution works. We comprehend because Dawkins does such an outstanding job in presenting its mechanics.
This edition carries three fine finales: Dawkins well thought out bibliography, a glossary, and most prized, indeed, an Afterword by Daniel C. Dennett. If any defense of this book is needed, Dennett is a peerless champion for the task. Dennett's capabilities in logical argument are superbly expressed here. As he's done elsewhere {Darwin's Dangerous Idea], Dennett mourns the lack of orginality and logic among Dawkins' critics. Excepting the more obstinate ones, these seem to be falling by the wayside. It's almost worthwhile reading Dennett's brief essay before starting Dawkins. It would be a gift to readers beyond measure if these two ever collaborated on a book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good, but not easy to read., Sept. 19 2000
By 
Javier Bonet Cuervo (Hollywood, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
If you liked The selfish gene, you are not necesary going to like this one, it is heavier to read, and it's certainly not a bedside book, unlike T.S.G., this book work with more complex concepts, I could not recomend this book unless you are taking the subject seriously.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good discussion for professional geneticists, Nov. 6 1999
By 
G. R. Lewis "rock musical buff" (Langley, WA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
Having been charmed and delighted by Dawkins' landmark "The Selfish Gene," I eagerly awaited the new edition of this follow-up work. I was disappointed because it is loaded with learned argument and scholarly references which would only be meaningful to another academic. As with so many books, the basic "meat" could have been distilled down to perhaps a couple of dozen pages. The basic idea--that genes influence things outside the bodies they reside in--seems beyond argument. This 1999 edition seems to contain little new material. Unless you're a professional geneticist, read The Selfish Gene and skip this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A more subtle sequel to The Selfish Gene, June 25 2011
This review is from: The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Paperback)
Richard Dawkins tells you this his favourite book he has written, and in many ways is the culmination of his contribution to evolutionary biology. To someone who loved the ingenious and mind-blowing The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype may come as somewhat of a disappointment if it doesn't live up to your expectations. I urge you to read it, several times if you need to, because its ideas are just as powerful, but conveyed in a more technical way. Having read The Selfish Gene and having some background in evolutionary biology will help a lot to get the most out of it. He does defend a lot of ideas by providing counter-arguments to criticisms of The Selfish Gene, and writes in a more information-condensed way. It is a fantastic book that I highly recommend.
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The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene
The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene by Richard Dawkins (Paperback - Feb. 18 2003)
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