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The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True [Kindle Edition]

Richard Dawkins
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (552 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $16.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
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Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Book Description

Richard Dawkins, bestselling author and the world’s most celebrated evolutionary biologist, has spent his career elucidating the many wonders of science. Here, he takes a broader approach and uses his unrivaled explanatory powers to illuminate the ways in which the world really works. Filled with clever thought experiments and jaw-dropping facts, The Magic of Reality explains a stunningly wide range of natural phenomena: How old is the universe? Why do the continents look like disconnected pieces of a jigsaw puzzle? What causes tsunamis? Why are there so many kinds of plants and animals? Who was the first man, or woman? Starting with the magical, mythical explanations for the wonders of nature, Dawkins reveals the exhilarating scientific truths behind these occurrences. This is a page-turning detective story that not only mines all the sciences for its clues but primes the reader to think like a scientist as well.

Editorial Reviews


"I wanted to write this book but I wasn't clever enough. Now I've read it, I am"
—Ricky Gervais

“Exhilarating. The clearest and most beautifully written introduction to science I've ever read. Again and again I found myself saying "Oh! So that's how genes work!" (or stars, or tectonic plates, or all the other things he explains). Explanations I thought I knew were clarified; things I never understood were made clear for the first time. My favourite adjective of praise has always been "clear", and this book has clarity all the way through.”
—Philip Pullman, author of The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ and the His Dark Materials trilogy

“I am often asked to recommend good books on science for young people. From now on, I will not have to hesitate. The Magic of Reality provides a beautiful, accessible and wide ranging volume that addresses the questions that all of us have about the universe, separating often too-little known facts from too-frequently believed fictions. For this reason it should be a powerful resource for people of all ages, written with the masterful and eloquently literate style of perhaps the best popular expositor of science, Richard Dawkins, and delightfully illustrated by Dave McKean. What more could anyone ask for?”
—Lawrence Krauss is Foundation Professor and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and the author most recently of Quantum Man, and A Universe from Nothing

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was the inaugural holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is the acclaimed author of many books including The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor’s Tale, The God Delusion, and The Greatest Show on Earth. Visit him at

Dave McKean has illustrated and designed many award-winning comics and books as well as CD covers, a Broadway musical, and creatures for the Harry Potter films.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3386 KB
  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00CVDM8QS
  • Publisher: Free Press; Reprint edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0078XFYDA
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,890 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
786 of 839 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Magical October 4, 2011
In 1984's film "Ghostbusters," there's a comical scene in which a man is being interviewed for the role of the newest member of the "ghost busting" team, and his interviewer asks him the question, "Do you believe in UFOs, astral projections, mental telepathy, ESP, clairvoyance, spirit photography, telekinetic movement, full trance mediums, the Loch Ness monster and the theory of Atlantis?" He answers, humorously, "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say." If you'd asked me the same question at the age of 12 or 13, I would have said "yes" without any hesitation. In fact, I probably would have added some things.

Like most children, I was very curious about how the universe worked and how things had come to be the way they were, and, also like most children, by the time I was in middle school I had outgrown the cute educational kids' shows and picture books about dinosaurs and space. School texts were heavier on bare bones facts than on explaining how scientists knew what they did, and books for adults were dry and simply too difficult to keep up with. (I tried, and abandoned, "The Origin of Species" and "Cosmos" around this time.) Worse yet, I still had the childish tendency to believe most of what adults told me - and to believe virtually all of what I read. In this perfect storm of inquiry and innocence, I was ripe for the plucking for charlatans and pseudo-scientists. And pluck they did! I wasted much of my time during these formative years reading (and believing) that an alien spacecraft crashed in New Mexico in 1947, that populations of plesiosaurs survived in a few scattered lakes around the world (including, of course, Loch Ness), that it was possible to communicate telepathically, that aliens built the pyramids, and so on, and so on...
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300 of 329 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No Myth, this is a Really Magical Book! October 5, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True by Richard Dawkins

"The Magic of Reality" is the latest contribution by evolutionary-biologist icon Richard Dawkins. Professor Dawkins is on a mission of education and in this enlightening book he reaches a younger audience by introducing science like only he can. In one of the most beautifully illustrated science books, he takes the reader on a ride on a wide-range of topics of interest that masterfully navigates between myth and what is real. This mesmerizing 272-page book is composed of the following twelve chapters: 1. What is reality? What is magic? , 2. Who was the first person? , 3. Why are there so many different 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? ,and 12. What is a miracle?

1. A wonderful book on science that is accessible to a younger audience without compromising the science lovers in all of us. Bravo!
2. It's a book written by the great Richard Dawkins, so you know the quality goes in before the product goes out.
3. A true labor of love. The educator in Professor Dawkins comes out and now even our children will benefit from his prodigious knowledge.
4. One of the most beautifully illustrated books you will ever find. Great quality binding only matched by its substance.
5. Science knowledge conveyed in a brilliant, lucid manner.
6. Great format. In each chapter, Professor Dawkins illustrates clearly the difference between the wishful and what is "really" real.
7. What a wonderful way to learn about science.
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190 of 209 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true GIFT for adults and children alike! October 18, 2011
By Doug
This book is excellent and the iPad version is flat out COOL. I've read many remarks in the comments regarding the book being written for older children and being limited; let's please not forget that 40-60 percent of the United States not only rejects evolution, but doesn't possess the faintest idea of how evolution works. If you have a religious friend that might be curious about science, secular thinking, and even basic reality, or a religious friend that simply can't comprehend how you accept evolution or reject gods and reject myths; then this book might just be the perfect introduction for them.

As an ex-religious, quite content atheist parent, this book is an invaluable tool for my children (to understand the world in which we live) and my religious family that struggles with my secular status. As a layperson, I'm not the most qualified candidate to give a dissertation on natural selection, DNA, and breaking down myth versus reality to an audience that is fully entrenched in particular myths. For me, The Magic Of Reality is a true gift.

Thank you once again, Professor Dawkins.
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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Passion for Science and Reason October 11, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Richard Dawkins' passion for science and reason has never been more evident than in his latest work, an attempt to convey to "readers of all ages" just how wonderful and magical reality is. The other side of that idea is that no matter how enchanting ancient or modern myths might be, they are not based on reality and they are not nearly as interesting or as exciting as the truth. Dawkins brings this double point home in each of twelve chapters presented as questions, with the myths of many peoples contrasted with reality as determined by science. There will be little controversy over how he handles such questions as What is the sun? What is a rainbow? Why do we have night and day, winter and summer? What is an earthquake? or even Are we alone?

Unfortunately, many in America who should read this book probably won't because of their religious beliefs. Those who think Adam was the first person, that the god of Abraham created all animals individually, that the universe was brought into being by the will of some supernatural creator, and that bad things happen because god or the gods are angry with us will reject this or any book that tells the science like it is. Fortunately, the number of people who think the Bible is the word of god and must be taken literally as if it were a science text is not as great in other countries. I imagine the book will do quite well in the UK and other places (in translation) where fundamentalist anti-science is not so great as it is in the U.S.

All but two of the chapters focus exclusively on scientific questions. Most chapters begin with a look at some of the traditional myths that have been produced by various cultures around the world. These are followed up with a look at what the science has to say about the subject.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars It is a Must!
It is must read for students and for every one who looks for REAL things
Published 10 hours ago by Jose A de la Paz
5.0 out of 5 stars This was a fun read. Dawkins explains the science behind some simple...
This was a fun read. Dawkins explains the science behind some simple questions that children may ask. Why do we have night and day? What is a rainbow? Read more
Published 1 day ago by Jarrod Burroughs
5.0 out of 5 stars A must for Dawkins fans.
Bought this for my husband. He loves anything by Dawkins and really likes this one.
Published 5 days ago by Susan K. Dunaway
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A wonderful explanation in simple terms of the beauty of reality and science!
Published 7 days ago by Tom J. Cox
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical
Magical.. He explains these concepts with so much ease and awesomeness..
Published 7 days ago by Baqar
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommend
Thoroughly enjoyed it. The wonders of nature are explained in an easy and entertaining way. I like the way Mr. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Keith Lock
3.0 out of 5 stars It would be great for children
A book with the basics. It would be great for children, or those who are interested to read a book about simple science.
Published 22 days ago by Henry Tran
5.0 out of 5 stars As Gore's global warming apocalyptic sermon is to "the Great Global...
Another one that need 6 stars. As Gore's global warming apocalyptic sermon is to "the Great Global Warming Swindle", the "Magic of Reality" is to various myths... Read more
Published 1 month ago by djj
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for People of Faith
Dawkins departs from his normally confrontational presentations of evolution to present the evidence and reasoning in a simple manner that can be accepted and understood by even a... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jonathan K. Hoopes
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by William S. Jones
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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.

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