5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars
Enjoyable Read, 23 Sep 2013
I had been looking forward to this book and pre-ordered it as soon as possible. I have read the great bulk of Dawkins' books and have very much appreciated his excellent work on popularizing and defending evolution and natural selection. Initially, I was a bit disappointed that "An Appetite for Wonder" only covers the first 35 years of his life (up to the publication of the "Selfish Gene"), as his life after this time is certainly the more colorful half of his career. But I must commend Dawkins on an excellent and enjoyable memoir of his early life and his young adult years as a scientist rising in the ranks of academe. He is admirably charitable to all the positive influences in his life, never gives any hint of an ax to grind, is self-effacing and really portrays the image of an individual who is thankful for the privileges and opportunities he has enjoyed. There may be some classic British understatement in his assessment of his own abilities (and interestingly, he assesses his own strengths and liabilities in a parallel process with those enumerated by Darwin himself); and I am convinced that the real-life Dawkins is not nearly as humble and self-deprecating; but he manages a great portrayal of his passion for science, the choices he was compelled to make, the opportunities he was granted, the mistakes he made, the successes he celebrated. And what emerges is a wholly positive portrait of a mind and a man that have made an indelible impact on our society. I did find myself skipping over parts of the book that rehashed some of his early experiments, as I found these details not terribly relevant to the memoir. He might disagree with me on this; but those were the parts where the book dragged. I have only given four stars, as I am comparing this book to his five-star works (The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, etc.). Here, I think he would agree with me.