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The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True Hardcover – October 4, 2011


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Hardcover, October 4, 2011
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (October 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439192812
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439192818
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 1 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (480 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #58,976 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 RichardDawkins.net.

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.

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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Customer Reviews

A very well written & informative book.
A Customer
The material I learned really opened my eyes to the REAL world and made me more excited that a lot of my questions have been answered.
A Customer
The book is intended for a younger audience and covers briefly a lot of topics.
A Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

751 of 802 people found the following review helpful By LeeHoFooks on October 4, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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283 of 312 people found the following review helpful By Book Shark TOP 500 REVIEWER on 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?

Positives:
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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176 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Doug on October 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
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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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Robert T. Carroll on 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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