This book is a success story. It explains two long-running puzzles of the theory of natural selection. How can natural selection favour those, like the ant, that renounce tooth and claw in favour of the public-spirited ways of the commune? How can it explain the peacock's tail, flamboyant and a burden to its bearer; surely selection would act against useless ornamentation? Helena Cronin's enthralling account blends history, science and philosophy in a gripping tale that is scholarly, entertaining and eminently readable. The hardback edition was selected by Nature as one of the best scientific books in 1992. Also the New York Times chose it as one of their best books of 1992. The author divides her time between the Philosophy Department at the London School of Economics and the Zoology Department at Oxford.