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The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing [Paperback]

Richard Dawkins
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
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Book Description

10 Sep 2009
Selected and introduced by Richard Dawkins, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing is a celebration of the finest writing by scientists for a wider audience - revealing that many of the best scientists have displayed as much imagination and skill with the pen as they have in the laboratory. This is a rich and vibrant collection that captures the poetry and excitement of communicating scientific understanding and scientific effort from 1900 to the present day. Professor Dawkins has included writing from a diverse range of scientists, some of whom need no introduction, and some of whose works have become modern classics, while others may be less familiar - but all convey the passion of great scientists writing about their science.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Reprint edition (10 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199216819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199216819
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 16.1 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 106,915 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Richard Dawkins first catapulted to fame with his iconic work The Selfish Gene, which he followed with a string of bestselling books: The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor's Tale, The God Delusion, The Greatest Show on Earth, The Magic of Reality, and a collection of his shorter writings, A Devil's Chaplain.

Dawkins is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the Royal Society of Literature Award (1987), the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society (1990), the International Cosmos Prize for Achievement in Human Science (1997), the Kistler Prize (2001), the Shakespeare Prize (2005), the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science (2006), the Galaxy British Book Awards Author of the Year Award (2007), the Deschner Prize (2007) and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest (2009). He retired from his position as the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University in 2008 and remains a fellow of New College.

In 2012, scientists studying fish in Sri Lanka created Dawkinsia as a new genus name, in recognition of his contribution to the public understanding of evolutionary science. In the same year, Richard Dawkins appeared in the BBC Four television series Beautiful Minds, revealing how he came to write The Selfish Gene and speaking about some of the events covered in his latest book, An Appetite for Wonder. In 2013, Dawkins was voted the world's top thinker in Prospect magazine's poll of 10,000 readers from over 100 countries.

Product Description


A compendium of some of the most illuminating thinking of the past 100 years. Eureka, The Times A feast for many long evenings. Katie Owen, The Sunday Telegraph Engaging selection. Christopher Hirst, The Independent Richard Dawkins has done a wonderful job. Nicholas Lezard, Saturday Guardian Stunning anthology. The Times

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is the first holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, and a Fellow of New College, Oxford. His bestselling books include The God Delusion (2006); The Selfish Gene (1976); The Extended Phenotype (1982); The Blind Watchmaker (1986); Unweaving the Rainbow (1998); and The Ancestor's Tale (2004). Dawkins is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the 1987 Royal Society of Literature Award, the 1990 Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the 1994 Nakayama Prize, the 1997 International Cosmos Prize for Achievement in Human Science, the Kistler Prize in 2001, and the Shakespeare Prize in 2005.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
116 of 119 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Modern Science Writing 20 Mar 2008
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is a varied collection of articles by just about every great modern science writer you can think of. The articles range in size from about 8 pages to as little as half a page, and each is preceded by a short, interesting introduction by Dawkins.

I read a lot of popular science books so inevitably there were a few items which I had already read, but it was nice to be reminded of them, such as Haldane's delightful poem which begins with the words "I wish I had the voice of Homer, to sing of rectal carcinoma!" The items vary considerably in difficulty - some could be understood by a child, others require concentration - and some topics were familiar to me, others were not, so although all the articles are good it is inevitable that the reader will enjoy some articles much more than others. They also vary considerably in subject matter - some are about what science has discovered, others about how scientists work, or the philosophy of science, or amusing anecdotes.

I think anyone interested in Science should get a lot out of the book, and I have been stimulated to seek out more writing by some of the authors. Highly recommended.
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53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect bedside reading 27 Jun 2008
This mighty tome makes excellent bedside reading. You are unlikely to have the musclepower to take this commuting or to the beach (need to wait for the paperback edition for that) but propped up in bed with a cup of cocoa/glass of whisky (delete as appropriate) by your side, this is an excellent book for dipping into and as a previous reviewer says, will encourage you to seek out the books the excerpts come from. In this regard may I be so bold as to recommend any of the books by Richard Feynman. Dawkins himself supplies witty and erudite introductions to each essay so all in all there is absolutely nothing to criticise in this book - unless you hate science that is and even then this book might convince you otherwise.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent collection 12 Nov 2009
By Sir Barnabas VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An excellent collection of the writings of some of the greatest names in science of the last 100 years, or so. The excerpts are divided into four sections; 1. What scientists study; 2. Who scientists are; 3. What scientists think and 4. What scientists delight in. There is, perhaps understandably, a definite bias toward evolutionary and biological sciences but there should be enough breadth to entertain anyone who has an interest in science, whatever their preferred subject.

To lift a quote from Sagan's excellent The Demon-Haunted World, which I happen to own already; "Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.". A fact that will not be lost on anyone who reads this collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Science and pure wonder 11 Jun 2009
This selection by Richard Dawkins is full of wonder and magnificent prose. It also conveys the great sense of awe, excitement and sheer pleasure you encounter when exploring how the world works.

As a way of thinking the scientific method is probably the greatest invention of mankind. This collection of science papers makes me proud to be human and proud to be part of our never ending quest for knowledge.
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28 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Review from the USA 3 April 2008
This is a wonderful book. The level of the writing and the subject matter chosen by Dr. Dawkins are truly great. This book has already "forced" me to purchase a number of other books there are excerpted in the text ...

I have read all of his other books and enjoyed them very much, so when I saw that Dr. Dawkins had a new book only available in the UK, I ordered it from Amazon UK for a scary shipping charge. I couldn't wait for the U.S. edition. It was well worth it! I've read many collections of non-fiction writing. This one is outstanding. Another coup for Dr. Dawkins in the effort to help the public understand science.

Each excerpt from longer pieces (mostly books) in this book is preceded by an interesting essay-let where Dr. Dawkins gives historical, literary, scientific, and sometimes personal setting for the piece. These, as always from Dr. Dawkins, are superbly well written.

Highly recommended, enjoy.
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pelucid writings from brilliant minds 1 July 2008
As one who is convinced that Spinoza's monism provides the philosophical basis for all the sciences, reading The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing and seeing Spinoza's view (that God and Nature are one and the same thing, under the dual aspects of thought and matter) confirmed over and over again was enthralling.

While reading it I repeatedly inserted markers into articles that I wished to re-read. In fact, I shall probably read the whole book again and refer to it repeatedly. What particularly fascinated me was the revelation that a quantum of energy appears to us under two aspects: as a wave or as a particle, but never both at the same time. This discovery accords perfectly with Spinoza's dual aspect theory.

My selection of five-star articles is as follows: 'Life Itself', by Francis Crick;`One Self: a Meditation on the Unity of Consciousness' by Nicholas Humphrey; `The Language Instinct', by Steven Pinker; `Avoid Boring People' by James Watson; `Consciousness Explained' by Daniel Dennett; `The Fantastic Combinations of John Conway's new solitaire game "Life"' by Martin Gardner; `Computing Machinery and Intelligence' by Alan Turing; `The Goldilocks Enigma' by Paul Davies; `The Elegant Universe' by Bryan Green, and `Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid' by Douglas Hofstadter.

Having been brought up in an evangelical environment, and having had a taste of Roman Catholicism as well, I can only say that there is no contest between the brilliance, lucidity, humility and open-mindedness of the scientists quoted in this anthology and the tendentious, hubristic, convoluted, ill-founded speculations of theologians - few of whom will have the courage to read this book.

The introductions by Richard Dawkins are excellent.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Bought as a gift and was well freceived
Published 1 month ago by Mieke
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Marvellous !!!
Published 1 month ago by neil moray urquhart phelps
5.0 out of 5 stars A Superb Selection of Modern Science Writing
I have read a lot of "popular" science writing recently so bought this book. Dawkins does not include any excerpts from his own books but does give an excellent... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Mr. S. Lawless
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
This was a gift for my brother who wanted to learn a bit more about "science". Really great book by Dawkins
Published 15 months ago by Slizzle
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
This isn't the kind of book anyone would just pick up and read. However my son is into sciences and really enjoyed this book. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Sammy
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing..!! Mind boggling..!!
Hats off to Dawkins..!! Amazing..!! Mind boggling..!! Its like having watching amazing bits of lives of great scintists..! Thank you
Published 17 months ago by Adwait
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing science selections.
A large collection of content by many scientists over many years,some much more readable now and interesting than others. Read more
Published on 25 Jan 2012 by Xenophon.
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful!
Sharing the knowledge of science is a great way to capture attention to the subject. Wonderful writing from exquisite people that can transmit great passion about their work Truly... Read more
Published on 9 Jan 2012 by A. Pedro
5.0 out of 5 stars The Oxford book of Modern Science writing
A most interesting book for those who do not have the time or inclination to delve to deeply into science writing or who just dont know where to start. Read more
Published on 6 Jan 2012 by Cherry Beaver
3.0 out of 5 stars No modern science
I was a bit cautious buying something by Richard Dawkins, as he tends to spend most of the book praising his own view of life rather than looking at matters objectively. Read more
Published on 18 Nov 2011 by Amazon Customer
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