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Beyond The Survival of the Fittest: Why Cooperation, not Competition, is the Key to Life If life is about survival of the fittest, then why would we risk our own life to jump into a river to save a stranger? Some people argue that issues such as charity, fairness, forgiveness and cooperation are evolutionary loose ends, side issues that are of little consequence. But as Harvard's celebrated evolutionary biologist Martin Nowak explains in this groundbreaking and controversial book, cooperation is central to the four-billion-year-old puzzle of life. Indeed, it is cooperation not competition that is the defining human trait.