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The Prince of Evolution: Peter Kropotkin's Adventures in Science and Politics Paperback – August 18, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 136 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1461180171
  • ISBN-13: 978-1461180173
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,455,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Dr. Lee Alan Dugatkin is an evolutionary biologist and historian of science and a professor and Distinguished University Scholar in the Department of Biology at the University of Louisville. He is the author of many books including Mr. Jefferson and the Giant Moose: Natural History in Early America (The University of Chicago Press, 2009), The Altruism Equation (Princeton University Press), and Cheating Monkeys and Citizen Bees (Free Press, 1999). His books have been translated into Japanese, Chinese, German and Spanish. Dr. Dugatkin is an a contributor to Scientific American and The New Scientist and has presented public talks on his books and research at PopTech!, The Idea Festival, The American Museum of Natural History, The Smithsonian Institute and many other venues. His work has garnered full-length articles in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and dozens of other newspapers, magazines and journals across the world. Dr. Dugatkin has also spoken about his books and research at over seventy-five major universities including Harvard, Princeton, Cornell, Oxford University, The University of Copenhagen, Cornell, The University of Chicago, The London School of Economics, and Cambridge University.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Piers J. Hale on November 13, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Lee Dugatkin's _Prince of Evolution_ is a compelling biography of the life of Peter Kropotkin, the Russian anarchist, founder of 'Freedom Press' publishing house in London and author of the series of essays that were later brought together as _Mutual Aid. A Factor in Evolution_(1902). This book is 'read-in-an-afternoon' short, coming in at less than 100 pages, and so the story is necessarily selective, but for all this it is a must read. Anarchists will find a detailed consideration of Kropotkin's notable scientific achievements, and historians of other political persuasions might also be surprised at the extent of Kropotkin's scientific achievements. Biologists will also glean some history of what is now termed the levels of selection debate (whether natural selection selects the gene, the individual, or the group), giving more detail on Kropotkin's story than either Mark Borrello included in his brilliant _Evolutionary Restraints_ (2010) or Oren Harmann had time for in his compelling story of George Price, _The Price of Altruism_ (2010).

From chapter four onwards Dugatkin goes into some detail to explain the origins, influences and implications of Kropotkin's biological theory of mutualism, not only in biology but in politics--the two were inseparable in the context of the nineteenth-century evolution debates. In stark contrast to the liberal-individualist version of Darwinian evolution put forward by 'Darwin's Bulldog', T.H. Huxley, Kropotkin argued that ethical regard for others of the same species was deep-seated. Its origins lay in the evolutionary strategy of mutual aid, the groups that contained organisms that cooperated tended to survive and multiply where those that were made up predominantly of selfish individualists tended not to.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Paul J. Zak on August 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
In this lavishly written book, Lee Dugatkin resurrects the story of Prince Kropotkin, whose life and studies profoundly questioned Victorian science and society. Kropotkin showed that animals and humans self-organize into cooperative structures without God or government. Almost without realizing it, Kropotkin discovered the biological foundation for human liberty. --Paul Zak, Ph.D., Director, Center for Neuroeconomics Studies, Claremont Graduate University
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John P. Dunn on December 25, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Dugatkin's interest in Kropotkin centers around his - Kropotkin's - challenge to Thomas Henry Huxley's version of Darwin's theory: "nature red in tooth and claw." Based on his time working in Siberia as a geographer, Kropotkin came to believe that species survived not through competition but through mutual aid. This experience, as well as his growing distaste for Czarist policies and politics, convinced him that anarchism - ie, local cooperation and mutual assistance was the fundamental species impulse, both in humans and in other species. Dugatkin's is essentially a historical presentation, so he spends little time - too little, in my view - on how Kropotkin's views have weathered modern scientific investigation. Dugatkin himself is a biologist, focused on animal behavior. I think I will have to track down some of his other work to see if he measures Kropotkin's contributions against current research.

It is well-written and I would recommend it to anyone interested in Kropotkin's life and thought. If you are not familiar with Kropotkin, you may want to supplement this with Woodcock's THE ANARCHIST PRINCE.
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