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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There is grandeur here, too., 21 Feb 2010
This review is from: The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution (Hardcover)
Professor Richard Dawkins. Anyone would think that this is his second book, following the somewhat polarising God Delusion. Of course it's not, and for those that know his works on the biological realm, here he's back to near his best.

Unlike in other books, in "The Greatest Show On Earth" Dawkins hopes to outline the overwhelming evidence for evolution; to such an extent that even a "history-denier" must come round to the truth. In this objective, I fear the prof may be dissapointed, for as he himself recognises, the creationist is no friend of evidence against their particular doctrine and dogma.

I must quickly point out to the theist open to scientific evidence that, "The God Delusion" notwithstanding, here Dawkins is anything but insulting to religion. If anything he is openly concillatory to those who accept the theory, but cite the guiding hand of God behind it. Here he is only interested in the incontravertible facts, no philosophy is to be found.

Dawins is brilliant on biology; brilliant on science. His wonderfully literary prose is unmatched in my opinion within the realm of the popularisation of science. Anyone with a vague interest in the theory of evolution will find grandeur within these pages, as they will with the view that the understanding of the theory provides.

He makes it so interesting, and so easy to understand. His digressions are thoughtful and warranted, his footnotes often as humourous as they are informative. Dawkins is enjoying himself here, and it's reflected in a book far more enjoyable than The God Delusion. The evidence supporting the theory of evolution is vast and deep, and Dawkins has obviously had to limit himself. In doing this he has often had to find just a single example from any one of great libraries of evidence - DNA say, or comparative biology, or symbiosis, or the fossil record, or "unintelligent design". In each he finds something that, while often not being new to this reader, always contains a wow factor.

The only problem the book suffers is the limiting effect of the book's epic scope. Dawkins often has to curtail a chapter or digression, content to refer to earlier expositions found in other books. So here you find nothing to rival the magnificent final chapter of "Climbing Mount Improbable" on the co-evolution of figs and wasps (something that everyone should read and re-read until their jaw is sent dropping); or a deep and satisfying argument for a gene-selected rather than individual-selected view of natural selection as found in "The Selfish Gene".

I would say that this isn't quite his best, but having read most of his other works, I still couldn't put this one down.

Whether it is successful in converting the history deniers to the facts of evolution is for me unlikely, but that is irrlevent, "The Greatest Show On Earth" is the only game in town.
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