The Price of Altruism: George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness

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Bodley Head, 2010 - Altruism - 451 pages
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Survival of the fittest or survival of the nicest? Since the dawn of time, human beings have contemplated the mysteries 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 exist.

The Price of Altruism follows the incredible story of the eccentric American genius, George Price, as he strives to answer evolution's greatest riddle. From the heights of the Manhattan Project to the inspired equation that explains altruism, to the depths of homelessness and despair in London, his life and death embody the paradoxes of Darwin's enigma.

Price's personal and professional journey are intricately woven into the sweeping arc of modern politics and science. From the Beagle in the southern seas to the court of the Russian Tsar to the chambers of London's Royal Society; from Brazilian jungles to Jamaican mountains; from Marxist manifestos to Nazi heresies and from First World War trenches to Vietnam demonstrations. The scientific quest to fathom the mysteries of altruism encompasses sneaky amoebas and Russian anarchists, sentry gazelles and tyrannical despots, brain imaging, Game Theory, the Bomb and the Holy Bible. Featuring some of the most brilliant minds of the modern age, it is the riveting tale of mankind's search for the origins of kindness.

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User Review  - Narboink - LibraryThing

This is an intriguing biography of George Price, a little-known population geneticist, interwoven with an intellectual history of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. While the story of ... Read full review

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About the author (2010)

Oren Harman obtained a D.Phil in the History of Science from Oxford University in 2001. He is the Chair of the Graduate Program in Science, Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University, 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.

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