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on 11 April 2003
This was an exceptionally interesting book, and extremely well written considering that Dawkins is, of course, a scientist first and foremost. The book goes into enough detail to satisfy the knowledgable reader without aleinating those who are not necessarily familiar with all of the subject matter. It provides lots of food for thought, and presents ideas in an entertaining way. It spells out scientific ideas so simply that you are guided into drawing the conclusion yourself.
One of the best books on Evolution I have come across.
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on 1 July 2012
As with all the other works I have read from Richard Dawkins, this book adds further clarity to the reality of evolution. I wish I had been taught about evolution at school instead of all the attempted religious indoctrination that we were subjected to. Happily they were wasting their time!! Bob Lee.
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on 12 April 2008
Eyes have evolved between 40 and 60 times in inveterbrates showing nine different distinctive characteristics. Hold on a second! How? Answer: evolution through natural selection. Thank you Mr. Darwin!

There two components to evolution - the central understanding of biology and zoology.

1. Random mutation of DNA during reproduction
2. Natural selection of genes.

When a species is separated by geographical barries (rivers, mountains) for a long period of time, the changes in group 1 will eventually be no longer compatable with group 2. They can't interbred and you then have two species where once their was one. That's why red squirrels can't interbred with grey ones.

Now, from simple DNA copying mechanisms in bacteria, all animals, plants, protozoa, fungi have evolved. How do we know this? We have an infinite amount of DNA analysis and about a billion fossils.

Some of the key concepts in evolution are explained in this book. DNA being the instruction set for a living organism, the actual structure of DNA itself, the fact that all humans share a common female ancestor (in the female - female line) whose time on the planet can be estimated by mathematically analysing the michondrial DNA differences and factoring them with mutations rates.

In this book, we are also treated to some interesting anecdotes from the animal kingdom:
1. Gray squirrels and Req squirrels can't interbred because they have evolved into separate spieces.
2. Turkeys kill anything that moves near their babies unless it emits a babies cry. If they are deaf they can kill their own babies because they use the babies cry to differentiate between their babies and other moving objects such as rats, mice etc.
3. Honeybees tell each other the whereabouts of flowers by means of a carefully coded dance.

All along the central theme of natural selection is referenced and explained. Whatever works best, reproduces best. The best genes stay in the gene pool while the worst are chucked out by an amoral and unconcious natural selection process.

Dawkins has written several books on evolution. So what's so good about this one? I have read several of them. They all have a lucid, succint style and are written with Dawkins' infectious enthusasim. This one is shorter the others. So if you want the good grounding in evolution but are not worried about every nook and cranny of what forms the central understanding of zoology and biology. Go for this book.
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VINE VOICEon 18 February 2008
This is the fifth Richard Dawkins book I have read and it has to be said that there is almost nothing in it that is not somewhere in his other books like The Blind Watchmaker and The Selfish Gene. As it is far shorter than his others I'd only recommend this book if it would be your first Dawkins and/or if you wanted a short description of what Darwinian evolution is all about.
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on 14 September 2014
Dawkins is one of those writers who expands your mind every time you read his work, and this book is no different – in it, he expands on Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution to investigate how a river of D.N.A. has flowed through time to branch out in to the diverse range of species that cover the surface of our planet.

It’s stunningly simple whilst being simultaneously in-depth and educational, and I learned stuff here that I never thought I’d understand. Of course, Dawkins being Dawkins, he also has some messages for the creationists and religious folks who believe that an eye could never evolve through a slow process of evolution – if you agree with them, I suggest you give Dawkins a chance.

I think it’s particularly interesting how Dawkins’ explanation of the development of life on our planet is even more beautiful and even more poetic than the fairytales that religion has to offer – who needs religion when science can be even more beautiful? Knowledge will beat ignorance in any circumstance – be inspired.
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on 27 April 2015
This book is a good read. In it Dawkins tried to show what evolution actually means by comparing how evolution works to things we know from everyday life, like rivers, and digital signals, so that it can be accessible to reasonably bright none scientists.

He also explains nuclear DNA works, and the difference between how things work on a single cell level, and the difference between that, and how a group of cells with differing DNA functions work together to achieve their own goals, which I found interesting.

This approach is relatively successful, it's just a little short and breezy, which makes it accessible but feels like he's in a hurry to get somewhere, without telling us we've arrive. There were a couple of times when I caught myself following what he said, but at the same time thinking "What, stop, what, you've finished that explanation?"
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on 10 September 2009
I always find Richard Dawkins' work interesting and River out of Eden is especially so.
So clearly written and explained - no-one should fail to understand it.
I look forward to reading his latest work.
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on 24 April 2014
A bit heavy going in places for someone like me who is not very technical, but interesting non-the-less. I'm enjoying reading it and the sections I can understand make up for the ones I can't!
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on 31 May 2011
A well explained, if a little bleak, look at evolution as a metaphor of DNA flowing like a river through time.
Possibly not the best Dawkins book to start on (maybe 'Climbing Mount improbable' or 'The Blind Watchmaker' are better starting points), but a thought provoking examination of evolution.
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on 15 April 2015
Much is taken from his other books, but still worth reading.
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