The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness (Google eBook)

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W. W. Norton & Company, Jun 17, 2010 - Science - 352 pages
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“Enthralling.”—Frans de Waal, The New York Times Book Review

Survival of the fittest or survival of the nicest? Since the dawn of time man has contemplated the mystery of altruism, but it was Darwin who posed the question most starkly. From the selfless ant to the stinging bee to the man laying down his life for a stranger, evolution has yielded a goodness that in theory should never be.

Set against the sweeping tale of 150 years of scientific attempts to explain kindness, The Price of Altruism tells for the first time the moving story of the eccentric American genius George Price (1922–1975), as he strives to answer evolution's greatest riddle. An original and penetrating picture of twentieth century thought, it is also a deeply personal journey. From the heights of the Manhattan Project to the inspired equation that explains altruism to the depths of homelessness and despair, Price's life embodies the paradoxes of Darwin’s enigma. His tragic suicide in a squatter’s flat, among the vagabonds to whom he gave all his possessions, provides the ultimate contemplation on the possibility of genuine benevolence.
  

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This book wasn't what I was hoping for at all. I didn't even get 100 pages in before I put it down. So far the book has told me very little about Price himself, it has gone into a lot of other famous & not so famous scientist & theorist who helped mold the evolution theories of today. It's discussed a little about the conflicting theories of natural selection & humans altruistic nature and the different ways it has been explained, but even that was really slow getting his point accross.
I'm sure if I stuck with it eventually I would learn about the subject I was hoping for which was George Price & his own personal search for the origins of kindness. But I'm so bored with the book at this point that I've decided to call it quits instead.
I can't even recommend this book for someone who wants to learn about the subject, without any specific scientist in mind. Mostly because the writing style is so hard to follow. The author jumps around from the late 1800's to the 1930's almost in midparagraph & talks about one person and then another in such a confusing way that you have to reread just to figure out which person he's talking about.
I wanted to like this book. But I just don't.
 

Contents

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7
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IV
39
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VI
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VIII
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XIV
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XXI
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About the author (2010)

Oren Harman, who has a doctorate from Oxford University, is the Chair of the Graduate Program in Science Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University and a professor of the history of science. He is the author of The Man Who Invented the Chromosome, a documentary film maker, and a frequent contributor to The New Republic. He lives in Tel Aviv and New York.

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