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The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Popular Science) [Paperback]

by Richard Dawkins
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 5, 1999 0192880519 978-0192880512 Revised
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 (Popular Science) + The Selfish Gene: 30th Anniversary Edition--with a new Introduction by the Author + The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe without Design
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Editorial Reviews

Review

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.

Product Details

  • Series: Popular Science
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; Revised edition (August 5, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192880519
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192880512
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 5 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #127,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Dawkins taught zoology at the University of California at Berkeley and at Oxford University and is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he has held since 1995. Among his previous books are The Ancestor's Tale, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and A Devil's Chaplain. Dawkins lives in Oxford with his wife, the actress and artist Lalla Ward.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
150 of 154 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essentials of life's story March 4, 2001
Format: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.
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93 of 100 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, also very difficult July 8, 2002
Format: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'.
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61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins does get it. February 15, 2003
Format: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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Selfish Gene, Part 2
The first 10 chapters are really focused on developing the ideas found in the Selfish Gene and overcoming objections to them. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Quai Chang Cain
5.0 out of 5 stars mind-stimulating read
The book is well organized. If zoology or biology isn't your forte then be prepared to look up vocabulary. Read more
Published 1 month ago by ryan_giberson
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great book, fascinating.
I read The Selfish Gene and this back to back. I walked away with a completely different perspective on life. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Dave Holden
5.0 out of 5 stars Not much to say that was not said yet in other reviews
I am not a biologist neither a geneticist. Actually I'm a dermatologist. But I bought this book influenced by the excellent "Selfish Gene" I have read before. Read more
Published 2 months ago by R. Ramos
5.0 out of 5 stars A MUST READ
This most excellent book by Richard Dawkins takes the theory of evolution beyond its first step by Darwin,
into quantum genetics... Read more
Published 8 months ago by James R. Mori
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read
Written to give massive amounts of information around biology and how life evolved. The primary reader for this book could easily be a biologist or your average person interested... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Jared
4.0 out of 5 stars A Case of Mistaken Identity
This book of Richard Dawkins is the one book in which he lays a genomic foundation for his atheism, with the explicit claim in his later books that atheism is based on science, in... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Clifford J. Stevens
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading For Anyone Interested in Genetics
This is one of my favorite books. It is not light reading, but is suitable for the lay person. It degenerates somewhat in editorial quality near the very end but it did not... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Mike Hayward
4.0 out of 5 stars everything I hoped it would be
A superb work and a wonderful adjunct to the Selfish Gene. Pretty heavy on science but well worth persevering with.
Published 14 months ago by graham pearcey
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins's The Extended Phenotype
It's a tough book for a layman, probably Dawkins's toughest one, but still very interesting and gourgeously written & published.
Published 15 months ago by Maxim Tulenin
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