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262 Reviews
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richard Dawkins provides science for all to understand.
Once again the explanations of Richard Dawkins provide the reader with easily read scientific proofs for the common man. It is plain see how much honesty is in his writings. His technical narrative is neither complex nor wordy. A delightful reading experience and a reference book well worth having on the shelf.
Published on 22 Dec. 2009 by C. K. Letts

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94 of 106 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, let's just review the book....!
As you can see by the grading I don't rate this book particularly highly overall. From the reaction to many other previously rather critical reviews here it seems that this is a cue for some people to launch assaults upon the reviewer as being some sort of anti-evolutionist. Let me say however that I am a biological sciences graduate, regard evolutionary theory and...
Published on 20 Jan. 2010 by John M


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5 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 16 Sept. 2009
By 
Mr. L. S. Taylor "Blind Barney" (York, North Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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Really nice book with high quality glossy photos. Excellent read!! Hope it helps to convert a few Flintstones believers..
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent on the evidence, but did want to throw at times, 1 Feb. 2012
By 
Jo Bennie (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This is one of the few times I have found myself completely in two minds about a book. On the one hand what Dawkins does in this book is brilliant and I learned so much, he takes us step by step through the evidence for evolution, clarifying the concepts of DNA, fossil records, Darwin's theories of natural selection and countering the Creationist and Intelligent Design theories about the natural world. But there were moments where I could happily have thrown the book, if it wasn't a library book! Dawkins keeps going on about his other books, if you want to read more on this read my other book. This is lazy scholarship, he should either leave it out altogether or put together an intelligent precis of his point. And his attacks on Creationists smack of crowing and a peacock like pride in just how right he is.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Richard Dawkins' latest book, 6 Oct. 2009
Dawkins is a superb and lucid writer and imparts both profound understanding and great enthusiasm in every sentence. This however is not my favourite Dawkins book. My position is that anyone with a brain cannot doubt the central truth of evolution by natural selection, and it's a pity that so much of this author's time has had to be devoted to arguing against the sheer nonsense of creation. The statistics do suggest that such a book is necessary, but I'm not sure it (or anything else) will convert anyone, though it may lend support and reassurance to people who feel that their belief in good science (eg teachers) is under pressure from the irrational. To appreciate the full power and wonder of the tree of life, read the same author's "The Ancestor's Tale".
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Timely Summing-up on Evolution, 29 Oct. 2009
By 
James Bullen (GB) - See all my reviews
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This book looks at the current and ever increasing evidence supporting evolution, exposes some of the tricks of creationists and justifies Mr Dawkins outspoken opposition to his religeous critics.
The book itself is generally well written but is a little heavy going in places. It is well worth reading but I think Climbing Mount Improbable was a better read and The Ancestor's Tale is stunning but heavier going.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality - fast delivery, 24 Feb. 2015
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Good quality - fast delivery
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book by erudite scientist, 28 Oct. 2009
By 
Fairly easy to read, lots of interesting informations though hard going in some places. Really enjoyable. Don't understand how some people can deny the existence of evolution for evidence is so clear and compelling! Highly recommended.
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16 of 38 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Extremely disappointing, 17 May 2011
By 
E. D. Barnes (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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First things first, this book is not a balanced review, a careful consideration of evidence for both sides of an argument. It is a presentation of a case, as in a court of law, or even a parliamentary debate, and while nowhere near as vitriolic as "The God Delusion", the niceties of mutual respect have long departed.

For the serious enquirer there is little discussion about any difficulties inherent to the model of evolution presented. On the other hand, because the author is so dismissive of creationism and intelligent design, he frequently and completely misses the point when pouring scorn on their advocates. Instead he uses the opprobrium "history deniers" and, where mentioned by name, is dismissive and derisory. On the other hand, evolutionists are hero-worshipped, so that for example Ernst Haeckel is presented as a "distinguished German zoologist", without reference to the controversy and allegations of fraud that attended his work. (Dawkins writes that Darwin never reciprocated Haeckel's devotion, overlooking the praise Darwin gave Haeckel in his introduction to "The Descent of Man" - how strange that a disciple of Darwin could be ignorant on this point?)

As Dawkins himself credits, an earlier work by Coyne covers much the same ground more comprehensively and has the advantage of having been written by someone with far more practical experience. Still, when you're fresh from a bestseller, why not cash in on your fame?

What I found surprising, having read Dawkins' earlier (and more scientifically based works) before he achieved popular notoriety, is how shallow this work becomes when its author gets away from his own field of expertise. Stranger still is that with so many advocates in a number of disciplines, the Dawkins manuscript has gone into print apparently without being proof read or reviewed from the point of view of those other specialisations.

The book starts with the now customary attack and ridicule of alternate positions, and concludes with an appendix entitled "The History Deniers". As ever, this aspect of the author's style only detracts from the more serious points he is trying to make. Yes, it appeals to the most rabid of his followers (and probably winds up his detractors), but hardly endears to the general and open-minded reader.

Having got past the prejudice of the prefix and opening chapter, chapter two is rather better. Dawkins attributes the dominant Western mindset being deeply contrary to evolution as a result of the influence of Greek philosophy. Strangely he attributes "blame" to Plato, when most thinkers traditionally have placed the spotlight on Aristotle. Very curious.

When he writes about Geology (my one-time field of study) it soon becomes clear that he has only a tenuous grasp of the subject (and for a prominent evolutionary biologist I find that quite staggering). A sentence along the lines "granite is formed from magma, basalt from lava" hardly inspires confidence (and may have been taken from Wikipedia), but somehow he seems just about to hang on to the end of the chapter. Similarly, when discussing radiometric dating or the Second Law of Thermodynamics it's easy to form the impression that he's rephrasing someone else's work without really understanding the subject.

If those areas are poorly treated, then certainly I would have expected better when it comes to Dawkins' "home turf". There are some good and clear examples, but often the presentation doesn't stand up to scrutiny. I offer a couple of illustrations, not that there aren't more, but in the interest of keeping this review concise.

When discussing human descent, Dawkins provides with a thought experiment imagining an unbroken chain from a common ape ancestor to a modern human. Perhaps it's in the interest of simplification, but Dawkins fails to even mention the chromosomal change that must have occurred during this chain of descent, and the reproductive "barrier" that separated the two lineages. Did the merging of twochromosome pairs occur over a few or many generations? What "society" existed that enabled a line of mutated individuals to produce successful and fertile offspring without the deleterious effects of in-breeding? (Coyne tackles human descent more thoroughly, but is also quiet on this particular point).

Of course the biggest component of neo-Darwinism and greatest area of disagreement with creationists and ID-ers, sorry "history deniers" (who, by and large, accept and endorse natural selection) concerns mutations. You can read a good way through this book before finding any reference to mutations being anything other than beneficial (Dawkins still doesn't appear to appreciate the shortcomings of his celebrated "biomorphs"). When Dawkins finally gets around to the theory of neutral mutations, we are treated to very little discussion before going off on a tangent of self-adulation.

Having retired from the Charles Simonyi chair, perhaps Dawkins is now resting on his laurels. Not that that should excuse lazy research. For instance I wasn't at all surprised to find that he took his "five fastest mammal species" from somebody's internet blog. My immediate reaction was that he'd missed the fastest of African antelopes (the tsessebe), and a few minutes' checking showed other fallacies. That one of his "species" is actually a genus (connachaetes) could be excused if he wasn't so irritatingly pedantic about the Pronghorn. Not that these relatively minor points materially affect the major points being made, but a little more care could have eliminated some obvious errors.

In amongst what might be termed the "hard evidence" there are a number of asides and candid admissions. Dawkins regrets he was unable to conduct a certain series of experiments (what stopped him?) and elsewhere makes a plea on behalf of those who choose to educate rather than perform pioneering research (Dawkins having achieved such prominence himself on the back of very little original research). The closing chapter reads like a religious sermon, taking as its text the famous "grandeur" purple passage from "Origin of Species" - so much so that Dawkins unearths half-remembered hymns from his formative years: "we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree"; and even quotes from the book of Genesis.

All in all this is a very weak book. Dawkins has many followers who accept everything he writes uncritically and who have awarded this book five stars, but he can do (and has done) better. This is a book that doesn't lend itself to scrutiny or cross-examination. Perhaps it has been simplified for the benefit of the masses, but this isn't a book that answers questions, appears to have been somewhat rushed and is hugely self-indulgent.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just wonderful, 14 Jan. 2014
If only clowns like Ray Comfort would take the time to read it with an open mind we might see the end to this creationist nonsense.
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2 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite difficult for the layman but worth it!, 24 Sept. 2009
By 
Dodo "Spara Fugle" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Audio CD)
Lots of profound ideas about evolution reasonably explained and it's great to explode any creationist myths that some strange people still hold in 2009.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars quite good., 13 Mar. 2012
This is a much better read than the truly awful 'God Delusion'.Dawkins passion for
his subject shines through,and thats admirable.Its better when he sticks to the science though, he still has a tendency to go on his other agenda even when he says his attack on religion
was done in another book and this time he's wearing another tee-shirt.

Its well illustrated-(i have the hard back edition)-several great photos,its drawback
for me, is it sometimes go's on at length without stopping making it
hard to not have the mind wander.In the the beginning of book he suggests places to stop
and think before going on, which is great, but this go's by the wayside later on.- sorry,just a
laymans view..
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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution by Richard Dawkins (Audio CD - 10 Sept. 2009)
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