River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

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How did the replication bomb we call "life" begin and where in the world, or rather, in the universe, is it heading? Writing with characteristic wit and an ability to clarify complex phenomena (the New York Times described his style as "the sort of science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius"), Richard Dawkins confronts this ancient mystery. Dawkins has been named by the London Daily Telegraph "the most brilliant contemporary preacher of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution." More than any other ...
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1995-03 Paperback New HARDCOVER, BRAND NEW COPY, Perfect Shape, Not a Remainder, No Black Remainder Mark, MH241-808.

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River out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life

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Overview

How did the replication bomb we call "life" begin and where in the world, or rather, in the universe, is it heading? Writing with characteristic wit and an ability to clarify complex phenomena (the New York Times described his style as "the sort of science writing that makes the reader feel like a genius"), Richard Dawkins confronts this ancient mystery. Dawkins has been named by the London Daily Telegraph "the most brilliant contemporary preacher of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution." More than any other contemporary scientist, he has lent credence to the idea that human beings - indeed, all living things - are mere vehicles of information, gene carriers whose primary purpose is propagation of their own DNA. In this new book, Dawkins explains evolution as a flowing river of genes, genes meeting, competing, uniting, and sometimes separating to form new species. Filled with absorbing, at times alarming, stories about the world of bees and orchids, "designed" eyes and human ancestors, River Out of Eden answers tantalizing questions: Why are forest trees tall - wouldn't each survive more economically if all were short? Why is the sex ratio fifty-fifty when relatively few males are needed to impregnate many females? Why do we inherit genes for fatal illnesses? Who was our last universal ancestor? Dawkins suggests that it was more likely to have been an Adam than an African Eve. By "reverse engineering," he deduces the purpose of life ("God's Utility Function"). Hammering home the crucial role of gradualism in evolution, he confounds those who argue that every element of, say, an eye has to function perfectly or the whole system will collapse. But the engaging, personal, frequently provocative narrative that carries us along River Out of Eden has a larger purpose: the book illustrates the nature of scientific reasoning, exposing the difficulties scientists face in explaining life. We learn that our assumptions, intuitions, origin myths, and trendy intellectual an

In Dawkins' view, human beings are vehicles of evolution--gene carriers whose primary purpose is propagation of their own genes. In this new book, he explains evolution as a flowing river of genes, demonstrating how genes meet, compete, unite, and sometimes separate to form new species.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) pictures evolution as a vast river of DNA-coded information flowing over millennia and splitting into three billion branches, of which 30 million branches-today's extant species-survive. Emphasizing that the genetic code is uncannily computer-like, comprising long strings of digital information, the eminent Oxford evolutionary biologist surmises that we are "survival machines" programmed to propagate the database we carry. From his perspective, nature is not cruel-only indifferent-and the goal of a presumed Divine Engineer is maximizing DNA survival. Dawkins cautiously endorses the controversial "African Eve" theory, according to which the most recent common ancestor of all modern humans probably lived in Africa fewer than 250,000 years ago. The author's narrative masterfully deals with controversies in evolutionary biology.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Dawkins (The Selfish Gene) pictures evolution as a vast river of DNA-coded information flowing over millennia and splitting into three billion branches, of which 30 million branches-today's extant species-survive. Emphasizing that the genetic code is uncannily computer-like, comprising long strings of digital information, the eminent Oxford evolutionary biologist surmises that we are ``survival machines'' programmed to propagate the database we carry. From his perspective, nature is not cruel-only indifferent-and the goal of a presumed Divine Engineer is maximizing DNA survival. Dawkins cautiously endorses the controversial ``African Eve'' theory, according to which the most recent common ancestor of all modern humans probably lived in Africa fewer than 250,000 years ago. The author's narrative masterfully deals with controversies in evolutionary biology. Natural Science Book Club dual main selection; Library of Science alternate. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Dawkins continues discussion of the evolutionary themes introduced in his previous popular works, The Selfish Gene (LJ 12/1/76) and The Blind Watchmaker (LJ 2/1/87). Using the concept of a digital river of DNA, he explores the evolution of humans from a single ancestor; evolutions of specific organs (e.g., eyes) and coadaptation of species (e.g., wasps and orchids); nature's physical and behavioral mechanisms to maximize survival of DNA; and, finally, the ultimate results when our DNA reaches out into space. His arguments and examples are clear, compelling, and often amusing. Offering alternative and potentially controversial views of nature and its evolutionary processes, Dawkins's book is an enjoyable read, written in terms understandable to nonspecialists but with nuances appealing to more specialized readers. Recommended for academic and larger public science collections.-Jeanne Davidson, Oregon State Univ., Corvallis
Gilbert Taylor
The newest volume in the new Science Masters series condenses the subject of inherited genes for readers wanting maximum absorption in a single sitting. As with fellow authors in the series, British biologist Dawkins brings the success of a popular science work ("The Selfish Gene", 1989) to the goal of introducing the curious to his specialty, evolution. Dawkins' lecture-like text stakes out firm beliefs in gradualism, rather than variants of "creationism," as the motive force in biological change. To a clerical letter-writer who divines divine design in wasp behavior (and by extension, in the intricate structure of life), Dawkins playfully opposes perfectly natural reasons for bee dances. Another chapter attacks the common notion of purposefulness in any biological process--except for DNA's primal drive to self-replicate. The work is crammed with illustrative examples of Dawkins' conceptions; and although it can get ruthlessly grim, the playful exposition earns Dawkins a place on the biology shelves, again.
Booknews
Dawkins (Oxford U.) explains evolution as a flowing river of genes meeting, uniting, and sometimes separating to form new species. He argues that gradualism is the motive force in biological change, not creationism, and discusses sex ratios, evolution and selection of complex structures, and our earliest human ancestors. Includes b&w drawings. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465016068
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 2/28/1995
  • Series: Science Masters Series
  • Pages: 172

Meet the Author

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is the first holder of Oxford University’s newly endowed Charles Simonyi Professorship in the Public Understanding of Science. He is the author of two acclaimed bestsellers, The Blind Watchmaker, which won both the Royal Society of Literature Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Science, and the even better known The Selfish Gene.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2003

    You can't help but 'Get It'

    This book is not a blathering endless tedium of metaphors, as another reviewer has suggested. For the scientist and the layperson alike, this book is a measured and carefull explaination of what Darwinism is and isn't - one of the major thrusts of the book is to explain and expose myths that lie behind the creationist viewpoint that science 'isn't enough' to explain natural phenomenea. Even more encouraging, Dawkins elucidates the beauty and majesty of the fact of Evolution in a way that is seldom found in science. There is no preoccupation with technical language here, only honest, clear, and evocative images of what it truely is to be human, and what it truely 'means' to be alive. Dawkins asserts that it is human presumption that supposes answers to questions like 'Why does the Universe Exist?' I don't care if you are Christian, Jewish, or whatever -- if you have an interest in real, logical evidence of Evolution in the everyday world, written in a way even a teenager could understand, buy this book.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 1, 2013

    The Goddess Sar'ah Shall Bring You To Ruin!

    In The Name of Sar'ah, The Merciful, The Gracious!

    The Holy Code, Book of Homosexuality, Chapter 1,646, Verse 665-668: " And the Goddess said unto the Proph'et Mar'io: 'Tell those who disbelieve in Hoeism that they will suffer the greatest loss! They will be choked with their skins when they enter my greatest creation, al-Dajjal (hell). They will say and think inside themselves 'We have no Creator. We have made ourselves.' Hubris! They are certainly to perish by My Hand in the bright flames I have created for them. I will show them no mercy."

    0 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted December 27, 2011

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