How do organisms whose behavior is apparently determined by ``selfish genes'' become social beings, let alone altruists and saints? Ridley, former science editor of the Economist, looks to the growing field of evolutionary psychology for answers. This new discipline draws on insights from anthropology, economics, and politics, as well as on the evolutionary trends the author explored in The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature (1994). Other organisms besides humans have learned to cooperate. The social insects have long been taken as models for human society; the division of labor they exhibit is one of the key advantages of social living. Vampire bats nest in large groups, and it is common for a successful hunter to share its meal with a neighbor, in hopes that the favor will be returned at a later date. This discovery leads to a digression on the famous ``prisoner's dilemma'' of game theory; the first studies seemed to show that the selfish player invariably wins. It now appears that a cooperative player with a ``tit for tat'' strategy will outlast the purely selfish one. Communal hunting raises interesting issues, too. Surplus meat is often traded for sex with an attractive female neighbor. Early modern humans so effectively hunted large animals that many—the mammoth, for example—became extinct. Another negative effect of large-scale cooperation is war. It is evidently difficult even for highly sophisticated social beings to abandon the notion that only their own tribe is really human and that others must be exterminated. The other side of the coin is trade, which depends on mutual trust. ``Trust is as vital a form of social capital as money is a form of actual capital,'' Ridley argues in a concluding chapter in which he attempts to draw lessons for the modern political arena. A provocative look at some of the central questions about what makes us human; strongly recommended.

Pub Date: April 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-670-86357-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1997

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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