The Price of Altruism

  • by Oren Harman
  • Narrated by Andi Ackerman
  • 14 hrs and 20 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 20th 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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What the Critics Say

“Enthralling.” (Frans de Waal, The New York Times Book Review)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Wonderful audio book well worth listening to

It's a riveting story that I thoroughly enjoyed. The narration is excellent. I highly recommend it! This book will really change your outlook on how life evolved to be a cooperative race, with an element of scientific design built into the process. Not only that, but scientists were figuring this out mathematically in the 1930's. I highly recommend this book because not only the ideas are explained, but the lives of all the people connected in any way with the concepts, are told about in an interesting way so you can see really what the idea meant in that time and place. It's so exciting! The author takes you step by step through some new and exciting concepts, that scientists knew a hundred years ago or more. Theories such as group evolution went out of style but are back. It is truly mind boggling. I loved it.
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- J. C. "I live in Thailand, and love to listen to audible."

great story but very disorganized

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

if you like wordiness and lengthy explanations and suppositions this may be for you. I found the narrator very engaging and the story about George Price hard to follow. Ultimately the explanation of the co variance equation was lacking a great deal.


What could Oren Harman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

stick to a time line


How did the narrator detract from the book?

not at all. She made it bearable


What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

i went to the computer and in ten minutes learned more about George Price than in the 23 hrs on the audio tape


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- Riemke

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-09-2013
  • Publisher: Audible Studios