- Hardcover: 480 pages
- Publisher: Bantam Press; 1st edition (10 Sept. 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 059306173X
- ISBN-13: 978-0593061732
- Product Dimensions: 16.1 x 4.2 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 304 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 242,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution Hardcover – 10 Sep 2009
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Dawkins combines an artist's wonder at the virtuosity of nature with a scientist's understanding of how it comes to be. - Matt Ridley, author of Nature via Nurture.
This is the book Richard Dawkins needed to write and many need to read ... clear, absorbing and vivid. - Lord Harries of Pentregarth (formerly Bishop Richard Harries).
With characteristic flair and passion, Dawkins has put on a stunning exhibition of the evidence for evolution. - Dr Alice Roberts, Biological anthropologist, author & broadcaster
Whether it’s Lenski’s bacteria or our own ancestors, Richard Dawkins discusses the evidence for evolution with his usual charm, style, clarity and brilliance. - Simon Singh, author of Fermat’s Last Theorem
Britain's greatest science writer comprehensively rebuts the creationists by pulling together the incontrovertible evidence for evolutionSee all Product description
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The science is very well explained. Each Chapter lays out a principle, then explains 2 or 3 examples of the principle to show this isn't an isolated incident. As someone with a Masters in Biology (in immunogenetics, so nothing to do with evolution), I found Dawkins' explanations at times a bit patronising, but I realise these books are for people who aren't necessarily well versed in biology. Most the evidence I had heard of before (as a comprehensive list of evidence this is somewhat inevitable), but the bits I haven't read before were completely fascinating and did get me thinking about evolution in a different (and far more cohesive) way. In level, I'd say the science is somewhere between A level and First Year of a Bachelors Degree - but each chapter is so thorough that I think most people could understand the book with little effort.
So the book is undoubtedly full of Dawkins personality, for better or worse. I devoured the book, so I can sing nothing but praise for how interesting it is.
I went into the book knowing what most people would know about evolution, and I kept an open mind. I was ready to chuck the idea if I found even one of the arguments unpersuasive, but as I said earlier, every single chapter hammers in the point that its just true, no two ways about it. So the book more than achieves what the subtitle of the book sets out as the goal - to lay out all the evidence, but it goes beyond and does justice to the title. It is indeed the Greatest Show on Earth, and arguably, in all of known Universe, since this is the only example of life we know at all. One by one, the chapters stitch together the grandeur and the beauty of the gigantic natural process that has given rise to both the most menacing viruses and the most beautiful blossoms. It unites the whole of life in one brotherly embrace that is lacking in any other view, and the best thing is - its all true, and you have tangible proof of it, tons and tons of proof. Literally. I marvel at the job the biologists of the past few centuries have done in piecing together this gigantic jigsaw puzzle, and it makes sense or it all falls apart based on this one, rather simple idea. This is scientific inquiry at its best, and it has answered, in large part, one of the biggest questions of life - how did we all get here. By surviving through a process of automatic cumulative improvement by natural selection. That is the answer. And the book explains why.
To be specific:
(1) I liked how the chapters were structured in such a way that we build on the understanding of previous ones, but also how they are standalone arguments for the case the author is trying to make - the geographical distributions of species, the molecular genetic evidence, the fossils, the experimental evidence etc, all laid out as separate but connected pieces of the puzzle.
(2) I love the little anecdotes, the stories about Darwin or other scientists active in the field that are peppered through out the book. It gives you and idea about the people working in this field and that adds a bit of human touch.
(3) The careful explanations are more or less conversational rather than text book style so the layman is comfortable in reading through material that is after all, the domain of experts.
(1) Sometimes there are detours in explanations and they can be quite long winded, and though almost always very informative and interesting, the main point can get a little lost, especially if one is not reading the whole thing in one sitting. But in most cases, there are small synopses that manage to convey the basic points.
(2) If you are reading in Kindle format, the pictures are not placed comfortably within the flow of the text so you have to link back and forth.
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This book is very interesting to read and it lays out the evidence for evolution in a way that's...Read more