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166 of 180 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reality will out
I am glad that Dawkins has decided to write a popular science book to include a younger audience. The clarity and humour with which he deftly expounds factual reality (is there any other kind), deserves to be accessible to all.

I read the 265 pages of this book within 24 hours of having received it, not through lack of content, rather because the content was so...
Published on 18 Sept. 2011 by J. Taylor

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176 of 192 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Handsomely produced curate's egg
I'm a huge fan of Richard Dawkins. Despite the claims of his detractors, he is consistently calm and polite when arguing with people who disagree with his views, and his books -- oh, if only his detractors would read and understand them! -- are all lucid, thought-provoking and educational. For Dawkins to produce a book aimed at instilling in young readers a sense of...
Published on 8 Oct. 2011 by F. Odds


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74 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiring read and an ideal gift..., 15 Sept. 2011
By 
S. MOHAMADI (London,SW) - See all my reviews
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An inspiring read and an ideal gift for youngsters and anyone interested in science. The style is easy to follow and the illustrations are fantastic. It is divided into beautiful chapters which each in turn would distinguish between what is real and scientifically proven, and what is merely a fairy tale, and invites one to think for oneself what is more magical: a fairy tale or an awesome scientific tale. Highly fascinating, enlightening and beautiful.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a beautiful book, 21 July 2013
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Richard Dawkins is famous as a somewhat fanatical atheist, and he does suggest that there is no need for god in this book, but it is not anti-religious in that he doesn't come right out and say 'there is no god'. Personally I didn't feel he was pushing the atheism too much - but very religious people may feel differently.

The text is well written and the illustrations are beautiful.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "The Magic of Reality" could not have been a better title for a book which reveals reality to be both stark and fascinating, 30 Aug. 2012
The Magic of Reality pleasantly surprised me; in so far as it covers, in easily readable prose, areas of science I have often found daunting or intractable. To an extent, it offers an FAQ of the universe and man's place in it, from early superstition to the sophistication of modern science.

The illustrations greatly enhanced both the clarity and the sense of wonder which is engendered. Myth and magic, perhaps often regarded as in conflict with empirical or experimental science, are revealed as having a deep significance of their own in the development of our early ancestors and inevitably awaken a deeper awareness of our own significance, despite our individuality.

No dry academia here. Rather, I think, an author whose fascination with his own life's work is infectious.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Magic of Reality, 14 Oct. 2013
Richard Dawkins' The Magic of Reality begins with a question: if reality is everything that exists, then how do we know what exists? In many cases this question of existence can be answered easy by recourse to our five senses. Our ability to see, smell, touch, taste and hear provides us with effective means of establishing this reality. However, the question really is: if our senses cannot detect something directly, then how do we know if it's real? Lots of things can be seen to fall within this puzzle, for example galaxies that are too far away to see, radio waves that cannot be detected by either our eyes or our ears, and even dinosaurs since they are no longer around to be detected by anything. The answer seems to be that we know all of these things exist due to various methods of often complex investigation, investigation that can ultimately be labelled as science.

Of course, scientific investigation isn't the only means of explaining the existence of things and so, before science stepped in with an answer, magic was often credited as being involved. The ancient Egyptians for example explained the existence of night by suggesting that the goddess Nut swallowed the sun. Likewise, the Japanese used to explain earthquakes as being caused when the giant catfish that carried the world on its back flipped its tail. These are clearly extraordinary, magical explanations. However, it could be said that a different kind of magic exists in the discovery of the real answers to question of why things happen. With The Magic of Reality Dawkins therefore seeks to demonstrate that the real would, as it can be understood scientifically, has a magic all of its own.

In The Magic of Reality each chapter is dedicated to one particular aspect of reality - whether it be the sun or earthquakes or rainbows or the many species of animals that exists - and investigates how and why that particular thing has come to be. In the chapter concerning "Why do we have night and day, winter and summer?" for example, Dawkins examines the two great rhythms that dominate our lives. He begins with a couple of Aboriginal myths about the day-night cycle as well as the myth of Persephone, before detailing how the seasonal rhythm is explained by the yearly orbiting of the Earth around the sun at a distance of 93 million miles while the daily rhythm is explained by the Earth's spinning round and round like a top.

The Magic of Reality is an immensely interesting book. Richard Dawkins has taken a host of complex and vital topics and has explained them in a clear, concise manner that would suit both the layman and those with some scientific knowledge. Dawkins provides inspiring explanations of space, time, evolution and other matters within the realm of thought experiments and so uses The Magic of Reality to explain an amazingly wide range of natural phenomena. The breadth of topics covered is immense yet Dawkins' clear explanative style ensures that all information is presented in an accurate and detailed yet straightforward manner that makes it a pleasure rather than a chore to read.

One potential disappointment with this particular edition of The Magic of Reality is that it is a special text-only edition. The original hardback edition contained delightful and illuminating colour illustrations from Dave McKean [yes, of Hellblazer and Sandman fame]. The quality of the illustrations resulted in the hardback of The Magic of Reality being a truly beautiful as well as informative volume. It is intended to be a book that explains science in a clear and exuberant fashion that appeals to readers of all ages and the inclusion of the illustrations would have served to broaden its appeal, particularly to young readers. There is another, more expensive, paperback edition due out later this year and it seems likely that that one will be illustrated, so it's worth considering which edition would be most suited to your particular interests.

Despite having lamented the absence of illustrations, the strength of the text of The Magic of Reality must be reiterated. It is a real page-turner of a science book that grips the reader's imagination from the very beginning and never fails to both enlighten and astonish. The Magic of Reality is an accessible guide to nearly all of the important questions about the nature of life and the universe.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic of Reality- Richard Dawkins, 2 Dec. 2012
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Another excellent book from Richard Dawkins. Initially I felt rather like a student in school again. However once well into the book, I was amazed at my lack of knowledge on many points. Dawkin's splendid prose and clear expositions made reading a pleasure as well as an education.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent younger readers book, 23 Nov. 2012
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I read the negative reviews on here and laughed out loud at some of the pomposity! This is written for readers of about 9+ and covers simply some of the KS2-3 science topics with reference to what ancient people used to think. It's very easy to read, because its written for children, and very interesting in spite of its simplicity. I LOVED the way he carefully and kindly explains some myths and includes the desert Arab myths and then you realise "aha yes, the current christian "belief" - it's not sneery at all, it's just very straightforward. I bought three more for presents.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Better for age group 10 to 12 than adults, 13 Oct. 2011
Richard Dawkins has produced some excellent work and is a first class scientist and writer and I have found several of his other books most interesting and enjoyable. I was therefore expecting something of the same when I ordered it. What I would have liked to have known before I ordered is, however - that it is written in a very obvious teen style and phrasing, which can be irritating to adults. (As but one example why does he have to use the words 'stuff' and 'literally'?)

The cover says it 'will amaze readers of all ages - young adults, adults, children, octogenarians.'It would have been more honest of his publishers to have said something like 'it's for young adults but people of all ages will find it interesting and enjoyable'. In so doing they would have avoided readers' disappointment (although possibly sold fewer copies!

That said, I would recommend it for young teens and below. I would not want to put adults off, but it is clearly for young readers; so long as adults are prepared for a younger style of writing than his other work they should not be disappointed.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dawkins for a younger generation, 18 Sept. 2011
By 
RR Waller "ISeneca" (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Having just returned from Professor Dawkins' first lecture on his new book (September 2011), I can recommend it; I have heard him before, many times and he has not lost any of his skill.

If one mounts a hobby horse on a regular basis, one tends to be associated with it; mounting it often with great enthusiasm, some might saying aggressive intent, it tends to become synonymous with the rider. So it is with Richard Dawkins, a position he seems to relish. Although the book is obviously a tangential swipe, the book deals with a range of issues from a scientific point of view.

In his lecture, he pointed out three forms of magic to explain the "magic" in the book's title: stage magic in which the magician admits he is playing tricks on the audience, "The slight of hand"; the charlatan's falsely claimed magic in which someone claims to be able to bend spoons, find oil in the ground, alter clocks and so on but not by slight of hand but by the power of the mind; finally, there is poetic magic, the awe we all experience on occasions faced with the wonder of nature. This is the magic he writes of and has defended in the past in "Unweaving the Rainbow".

The format of the twelve chapters is thoughtfully constructed.
a) Consider a well-known and popular confusion or misconception relating to ways of explaining events;
b) Show how the myth is limited in ways of generating real facts and information;
c) Consider the strange ways in which mythology attempts to explain itself logically or scientifically;
d) Illustrate and elucidate the testable, logical, scientific explanation of the events.

CONTENTS

1) What is Reality? What is Magic?
2) Who was the first person?
3) Why are there so many kinds of animals?
4) What are things made of?
5) Why do we have night and day, winter and summer?
6) What is the sun ?
7) What is a rainbow?
8) When and how did everything begin?
9) Are we Alone?
10) What is an earthquake?
11) Why do bad things happen?
12) What is a miracle?

Many people will argue, as Blake did of Newton, that science reduces the world to arid, factual explanations. Others will argue that many of the popular myths known throughout the world have served a good purpose for millennia, so why change them now? Others that Professor Dawkins has a high opinion of himself, setting himself up as the new authority to debunk aspects of a world many people treasure. He is, without doubt, a marmite character, one who has fervent followers and detractors; I heard good examples this morning, passionate exponents of both from many parts of the world - Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom.

I find little to argue with in the book. It is simple to read, deals with many of the features of our world our forefathers have tried to explain and is well-illustrated making it a visually-exciting book to look at. Dave McKean, the illustrator, has done a good job. There is strand running through it which most children are unlikely to detect; thinking adults will.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Religion, science or something else?, 11 Jan. 2012
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I bought this book as a Christmas gift for my son, who is only 9 but a very bright young thing who loves to learn about the world around him. I bought his older brother the Philosophy Files by Steven Law. Neither were purchased because of any belief in the contents, but because I want my boys to learn new things, have ideas they can believe in or fight against, and start to think critically about the world around them. Some of the zealots who have commented on this book seem to slightly miss the point about education - it's not about telling people the one true path, its about exposing them to ideas and thoughts that they otherwise might never have hit upon themselves. I fully expect my sons to read a few more books than these two, and in doing so to begin to formulate their own ideas and beliefs, which may well be very different from my own.

So, how does the book fare? Well, my boy at first said he was unsure about it, but on a long car journey over Christmas, when he forgot his other book, he decided he might as well give it a go. After that he was unstoppable, he didn't understand everything so we talked through some bits, but he loves this book. In reality it would suit someone a bit older, but if he's enjoying it then I'm happy that he's testing himself as he tries to figure out new things.

My only criticism really are the illustrations, which don't really "illustrate" in the true sense of the word - they do not help to add meaning or illustrate the points being made in the text - they just add colour, shape and something pleasing to the eye, for the most part. That's the only reason it's a 4 not a 5. When you also consider the great price for a hardback book, i think this is a great one.

With so many people worrying about how we're to create a nation of thinkers instead of doers at the moment, in our proposed high skill high wage economy of the future, we have to thank authors of this calibre for taking the time and trouble to write something which doesn't fit into an academic journal. Whether you believe the content or not isn't really the point - it's the learning and the development that is so valuable. And the fun of reading, of course!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ideal Introduction to Science, 28 Oct. 2011
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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I bought this book as an early Christmas present for my 11 year old son who has just started learning about science at school. I thought I would read the book first as a sort of refresher for myself since I've become interested in science lately."The Magic of Reality" is certainly aimed at the younger reader , perhaps 11 to 14. It is full of colourful illustrations and easy to understand explanations of a range of scientific ,and indeed philosophical, topics.I found the explanations about earthquakes,evolution and how the universe developed to be particularly helpful.Throughout the book Dawkins contrasts his scientific expositions with myths from various peoples throughout the ages with the aim of making the myths seem foolish and backwards.Not surprisingly he lumps in the entire Biblical "revelation" into the myth category. Only problem is that millions of people worldwide still believe in these particular "myths", so if you're a Christian,Muslim or Jew ,be prepared to be offended by this book and don't buy it if you're wanting to reinforce your "faith", as Dawkins doesnt offer any religion any consolation in this book at all.
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The Magic of Reality: How we know what's really true
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