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The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing Paperback – 10 Sep 2009


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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford; Reprint edition (10 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199216819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199216819
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 3.3 x 15.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 74,525 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

Review

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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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

118 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. J. Clark on 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 By Big Jim TOP 100 REVIEWER on 27 Jun. 2008
Format: Hardcover
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 By Sir Barnabas VINE VOICE on 12 Nov. 2009
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Smith on 9 Oct. 2009
Format: Hardcover
Richard Dawkins needs no introduction as a academic and populist writer in the field of evolutionary biology. However, in this book he dons his hat as Chair of the Public Understanding of Science. The book is a personal selection of extracts and short pieces of the worlds best 20th century scientists, from Einstein to Primo Levi, through Turing and Crick. Part I looks as "What Scientists Study", Part II "Who Scientists Are", Part III "What Scientists Think", and the book closes with Part IV "What Scientists Delight In". Let me say immediately that this is an excellent compilation and good value for money. However I do feel that Dawkins has biased somewhat the compilation to the life sciences - perhaps justifiably you could call this book a quasi-homage to Darwin. Like every compilation you always feel as if some topics were overlooked or at least played down - can it be that no one has written intelligently about modern computer chips, superconductivity, or drug development and trials?
On the other hand we learn much about "The Mysterious Universe" from James Jeans, the power of numbers in "Just Sex Numbers" from Martin Rees, "Mankind Evolving" from Theodosius Dobzhansky, the "Genome" from Matt Ridley, "Theoretical Biology" from Sydney Brenner (a really great piece of writing), the many contributions of Peter Medawar to zoology and medical science, the "Seven Wonders" of Lewis Thomas (from new bacteria to the human species), the wonderful "Periodic Table" of Primo Levi, and the great last entry by Carl Sagan called "Pale Blue Dot" about how small Earth is in the cosmos.
The articles are all short, accessible in the their scope, and all easy to read. I found it an excellent bed-side book, and now finished it will certainly take its place on my shelves. I don't really see it as a reference book, but I do think that it will probably prove just as enjoyable to read a second time in a couple of years.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By anozama on 1 May 2011
Format: Paperback
In his role as Professor for Public Understanding of Science, Richard Dawkins provides a myriad of popular science pieces to whet the appetite of the interested layman.

Over eighty different authors contribute, and Dawkins provides a brief commentary on each selection.

The compendium is a celebration of the cutting edge of scientific discovery; a glimpse of life at the frontiers of intellectual exploration; and an insight into what makes scientists tick.

He successfully conveys the poetry, romance and elegant beauty of science, and the love, excitement and humility felt by its acolytes.

He adds epithets to some of the extracts : `Science doesn't have all the answers, but its good at spotting the important questions'. `Science....sees that what is `obvious' to common sense can be wrong'.

The book does what it says on the tin, and would be enjoyed by anyone, whatever their existing interest or expertise in the subject.
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