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The Price of Altruism : George Price and the Tragic Search for the Origins of Kindness (Hardcover)

Author: Harman, Oren

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"I stayed up all night reading...fascinating! Harman proves that the lives of some modern scientists are as ecstatic, tormented, and filled with strange visions as those of medieval saints." - SYLVIA NASAR, author of A Beautiful Mind

"A brilliant biography of a brilliant man. A powerful page-turner that vividly renders his obsessive absorption with the poles of cooperation and competition in nature. Harman lucidly sets Price in conversation with the shaping progenitors and ideas of modern evolutionary science, from game theory to genetic selection, while movingly recounting the tragedy of his self-destructive personal life."---DANIEL J. KEVLES, author of In the Name of Eugenics and The Baltimore Case

"One of the many merits of Oren Harman's uncommonly stimulating book is that it never loses its philosophical bearings. His account of the search for goodness in nature---and of George Price, his unforgettable protagonist---is almost cinematically satisfying. Harman has a rare gift for bringing ideas and thinkers to life." - LEON WIESELTIER, literary editor of the New Republic and author of Kaddish

"A terrific book, at once scholarly and impossible to put down." -PETER GODFREY-SMITH, author of Darwinian Populations and Natural Selection

"This book is a stunning tour de force. The puzzle of altruism is revealed as it would be in a thriller, with twists and turns and surprises almost until the end."---NOAH FELDMAN, author of Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of Roosevelt's Great Justices

"One of the great mysteries of nature is how evolution, as it selects for survival of the fittest, could possibly leave any room at all for altruism. In this remarkable book, Oren Harman tracks George Price, an awkward, disturbed, and profoundly saint-like scientist, as he cracks this fundamental biological problem. It is an astonishing story at every level. from the destitute wanderings and genial interventions of Price to a revealing account of how modern evolutionary biology took its contemporary form."---Peter Galison, author of Einstein's Clocks, Poincare's Maps

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

The Price of Altruism tells for the first time the moving story of the eccentric American genius George Price, as he strives to answer evolution's greatest riddle. Different and outrageously driven to succeed, Price was a gifted polymath with a Zelig-like ability to be present at the making of much of the twentieth century's seminal science. But it was in tackling Darwin's great mystery where he finally made his most dramatic discovery. Ultimately a homeless recluse, he had caught a glimpse of a deep and scary truth about humanity.

Within these pages, the story of Price's life is intricately woven into the sweeping are of modern politics and science: from the Beagle in the southern seas to the court of the Russian czar to the chambers of London's Royal Society, from World War I trenches to Vietnam demonstrations, Marxist manifestos to Nazi heresies. The scientific quest to fathom the mysteries of altruism invites to the stage 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 continuing and soaring tale of man's search for the origins of kindness

An original and penetrating picture of twentieth-century thought, The Price of Altruism is also a deeply personal journey. From the heights of the Manhattan Project to the inspired, soul-shaking 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


Publisher W W Norton & Co Inc
Mfg Part# 9780393067781
SKU 212507811
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 0393067785
Release Date 6/1/2010
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eBooks Kobo
Book Format Hardcover
Number of Pages 0451
Publisher W. W. Norton & Company
$23.41 + $3.99 shipping
$27.95 You save $4.54 (16%)
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