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The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing Hardcover – June 15, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


A book from which the love of science and the love of language shine. Science An amalgamation of brilliant reads. New Scientist Every school library should own a copy of this book; every person with even a passing interest in science should read it. Jerry A. Coyne, Times Literary Supplement. Beautiful volume...A labour of love. Steven Poole. The Guardian. A glorius celebration of literary scientists. Harry Richie Mail on Sunday A brilliant collection... If you could only ever read one science book, this should probably be it. New Scientist It is a real treasure trove of unexpected pleasures. Sunday Telegraph. Kenan Malik

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is the first holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, and is a Fellow of New College, Oxford. His bestselling books include The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and The Ancestor's Tale. Dawkins is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 419 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (June 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199216800
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199216802
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.6 x 5.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #313,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Richard Dawkins taught zoology at the University of California at Berkeley and at Oxford University and is now the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he has held since 1995. Among his previous books are The Ancestor's Tale, The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, and A Devil's Chaplain. Dawkins lives in Oxford with his wife, the actress and artist Lalla Ward.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dawkins' frequently claims that there is a much richer contemplative nature to a scientific view of the universe than in a view dominated by a "notion of a 'supreme being'." This anthology delivers the punch to this claim and does so with an amazing spectrum of ideas. If science were the basis of theology, this anthology contains the kind of writing one might read. This is not a collection about science theory, it is a collection of scientific ideas and dreams. It is prose for any lover of science, by some of the most eloquent and ardent scientists of our times (sans any topical contributions by Dawkins himself, by his own omission, though he nicely introduces each of the authors in the anthology and explains some of the reasons why they were chosen). Spanning many disciplines within the scientific community, not merely Dawkins' own field of biology, this anthology explores the many implications that make suffering through learning scientific fundamentals so very worthwhile. While I thoroughly loved reading this book as a middle-aged science buff, I would think this volume would be an equally great read for the scientifically minded college-bound-high-school student who has yet to decide which scientific discipline they may wish to specialize within. It is a collection that specializes in those blow-your-hair-back kind of answers we often got in science class, when frustrated with learning the basics, and dared to ask the professor, "why do I need to learn this stuff anyway?" It is precisely the kind of anthology one would imagine coming from a professorship that focuses on the *public understanding* of science. It is a fully accessible volume that demonstrates just how elegant and numinous the thoughts of strictly material and humanistic minded people are without abandoning the scientific discipline itself.
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Format: Hardcover
In the simple and friendly little book entitled Richard Dawkins, How a scientist changed the way we think [Oxford University Press 2006], edited by Alan Grafen and Mark Ridley, scientists and writers heaped praise upon a brilliant and illustrious fellow scientist and writer. In The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing [Oxford University Press 2008] by Richard Dawkins, we encounter the inverse process. The Oxford guru of ungodly genetics offers us a personally-chosen digest of 83 literary variations -- one might say prose poems -- on scientific themes. And each extract is prefaced by a brilliantly terse introduction by the Master of Ceremonies, who invites us to look over his shoulder -- over his reading glasses, one might say -- to take voluptuous literary and didactic pleasure in the modern Word (logos) of Science. Dawkins is never nicer than when he talks of others: of other scientists and writers, of other bright survival machines with a zoological quill in their hands. He is a Renaissance scholar inviting us to a celebration of his scientific and artistic brethren. Dawkins and Oxford (its university, its press) are lights in the murky metaphysics of the modern world.
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Format: Hardcover
Without wishing to detract from the value of Dawkins' more polemical writings on atheism, it's good for a change to see this contribution to the understanding of science. The field is so vast that for the informed but non-academic reader (or even for the specialist in a limited science field) this compendium, with its instructive and insightful introductory comments is a real boon. Highly readable and "dippable" and thoroughly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
As one who is convinced that Spinoza's monism provides the philosophical basis for all the sciences, reading The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing and seeing Spinoza's view (that God and Nature are one and the same thing, under the dual aspects of thought and matter) confirmed over and over again was enthralling.

While reading it I repeatedly inserted markers into articles that I wished to re-read. In fact, I shall probably read the whole book again and refer to it repeatedly. What particularly fascinated me was the revelation that a quantum of energy appears to us under two aspects: as a wave or as a particle, but never both at the same time. This discovery accords perfectly with Spinoza's dual aspect theory.

My selection of five-star articles is as follows: `Life Itself', by Francis Crick; `One Self: a Meditation on the Unity of Consciousness' by Nicholas Humphrey; `The Language Instinct', by Steven Pinker; `Avoid Boring People' by James Watson; `Consciousness Explained' by Daniel Dennett; `The Fantastic Combinations of John Conway's new solitaire game "Life"' by Martin Gardner; `Computing Machinery and Intelligence' by Alan Turing; `The Goldilocks Enigma' by Paul Davies; `The Elegant Universe' by Bryan Green, and `Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid' by Douglas Hofstadter.

Having been brought up in an evangelical environment, and having had a taste of Roman Catholicism as well, I can only say that there is no contest between the brilliance, lucidity, humility and open-mindedness of the scientists quoted in this anthology and the tendentious, hubristic, convoluted, ill-founded speculations of theologians - few of whom will have the courage to read this book.

The introductions by Richard Dawkins are excellent.
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