The Price of Altruism by Oren Harman
George Price and the Search for the Origins of Kindness

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

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 twentieth 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.

About Oren Harman

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Oren Harman, who has a doctorate from Oxford University, is the Chair of the Graduate Program in Science Technology and Society at Bar Ilan University and a professor of the history of science. He is 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 and New York.
Published June 17, 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company. 451 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Law & Philosophy, Education & Reference. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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The strange story of an oddball scientist who developed a mathematical approach to understanding altruism.

Apr 08 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Altruism: George...

The New York Times

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A look at the scientific study of altruism through the life of George Price, a researcher distressed to find no kindness undiluted.

Jul 09 2010 | Read Full Review of The Price of Altruism: George...

Publishers Weekly

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With his new book, Harman (The Man Who Invented the Chromosome) examines Price, a scientist and author whose promising life ended in self- destruction. Harman didn’t set out to write a straightforward

Jul 26 2010 | Read Full Review of The Price of Altruism: George...

Islington Tribute

Through it all Price remained on the sidelines: none of the participants was aware that the polite, frail American in their midst might have a contribu­tion to make, that this was the man who had proved “the exact mathematical conditions under which the interest of the group trumps the interest o...

May 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Price of Altruism: George...

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