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The Red Queen

Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature
Narrated by: Simon Prebble
Length: 12 hrs and 52 mins
4 out of 5 stars (6 ratings)

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Summary

Referring to Lewis Carroll's Red Queen from Through the Looking-Glass, a character who has to keep running to stay in the same place, Matt Ridley demonstrates why sex is humanity's best strategy for outwitting its constantly mutating internal predators. The Red Queen answers dozens of other riddles of human nature and culture - including why men propose marriage, the method behind our maddening notions of beauty, and the disquieting fact that a woman is more likely to conceive a child by an adulterous lover than by her husband.

Brilliantly written, The Red Queen offers an extraordinary new way of interpreting the human condition and how it has evolved.

©1993 Matt Ridley (P)2011 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Scott
  • 15-07-12

Great book!

For anyone interested in evolutionary psychology or why humans are the way the are when it comes to sex, this is a absolute great read. The narration is great and the author has you laughing as much as learning throughout the story. One of the best evolutionary psychology reads I have yet come across.

14 people found this helpful

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  • GH
  • 11-02-16

Informative scholarly review of human evolution

This is a scholarly treatment of evolution. Of course, procreation is the vehicle of evolution. The first third of the book is all about one celled creatures, frogs, pea hens and birds with some random chimps and whales thrown in. It is a little tough to get through all of that. The author does a reasonable job of identifying all of the prevailing theories. He then attempts to use to other animals to substantiate or diminish those theories.

Only people interested in documentaries are likely to find this book appealing. I found many of the concepts interesting; Do we know they are true? As the author concludes in his summary, who know what errors abound in his work and the work of others. The study of this field is in its infancy.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Mithridaties
  • 19-01-15

Insightful, Entertaining and Educational

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have recommended this book more then any other in my library because i believe that it can help with relationships, personal and professional. It gives an insightful glimpse into the interaction that goes on in social dynamics too often not understood or realized yet the effects of those elements are echoed in our day to day lives.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

This book is eye opening! Did you know that attraction is INVOLUNTARY? Yes, yes with some that is obvious but it is also something that you could enhance through other means then the physical. This book gives you the science behind that way better then any of those hair-brained dating books.

Any additional comments?

Read it. It's good for you.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Howard
  • 11-09-13

Data Driven Analysis of Sexual Selection

Matt Ridley writes great books. What makes them great is the abundance of information he presents to justify his conclusions as well as his willingness to admit when a conclusion is mere speculation. For anyone interested in evolutionary biology, this is a great book. Two thumbs up (though he does not focus on why only apes have opposable thumbs).

5 people found this helpful

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  • Eleanor
  • 11-10-12

An engaging explanation of some complicated ideas

Any additional comments?

The first half of the book was absolutely amazing -- beautifully read by Simon Prebble (one of my favorite readers) and completely engaging, effortlessly explaining complex genetic puzzles. But, for me, the book got hard to take when it got to human evolutionary psychology. Maybe I'm one of the PC people Ridley accuses of holding science back, or maybe I'm just a woman from a younger generation, because the things he says about women's and men's different natures just don't ring true to my experience. And in the 20 years since the book was published, many of them have been, if not disproven, then shown to not be as reproducible and universal as Ridley implies.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ken
  • 07-02-11

If I were ten Years Old...

... I would want to be a microbiologist! Finished Ancestor's Tale by R. Dawkins and loved it, like the story of asking a fish, how's the water... and the fish answers... water? what water? The chemical world that is us seems far more distant than the edge of the visable universe. I'm reading Red Queen on paper and am now downloading it to my iPOD. The goal is... what/why is sex? It's a better question than it sounds... but I'm still struggling with the Hox gene and how it knows where it is. This is a great mystery and if you liked Ancestor's Tale, you'll find this is a fine trip into that next dimension... water? what water?

17 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Charles
  • 16-03-11

This is

an in depth review of the answers to the question "Why do we reproduce sexually instead of asexually"; at least those answers originating from an evolutionary perspective. It is full of interesting tidbits on the science of reproduction, the most fascinating being the three sex chromosomes of lemmings.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Jeff Lewis
  • 23-08-19

Forest from the trees

The author goes into excruciating detail regarding the development of theories regarding sex and its role in evolution. As a reader I am not interested in the players, but the conclusions. A book 1/5 the length, focusing on ideas rather than the protagonists who originated them, would have been much more enjoyable. I recommend giving this one a pass.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 13-08-19

Well done! More convincing than sex at dawn.

I really enjoyed sex at dawn but found the handling of jealousy unconvincing. in addition the careless disposal of long term pair bonds did not align with it's prominence. The red queen takes all of these factors into account and does a much more scientific analysis to explain logical and biological reasons for them to coexist. Well done Matt Ridley.

1 person found this helpful

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  • S. Yates
  • 05-03-17

Academic and well reasoned

Any additional comments?

Fascinating exploration of why sex for reproduction exists, incorporating scientific findings from genetics, sociology, evolutionary development, psychology, and broad biology. While Ridley makes most of the book accessible to the layperson, it clearly is aimed at the educated layperson. That is to say, this is not for the casual reader looking for easy tidbits of knowledge, as this feels further from the popular science side of the bell curve and closer to the academic writing end. As a result, while the book might be slow going and some section warrant reading more than once, the reader comes away with some fairly sophisticated concepts. The book is more than a decade old and it would be nice to see an updated version with newer scientific findings (including epigenetic findings). Nonetheless, much of the content is still relevant, invites deep thought, and disrupts some widely held beliefs (cultural rather than scientific) about sex, males and females, and humans as just another mammal.

1 person found this helpful