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Brief Candle in the Dark: My Life in Science Hardcover – Illustrated, September 29, 2015
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In this hugely entertaining sequel to the New York Times bestselling memoir An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins delves deeply into his intellectual life spent kick-starting new conversations about science, culture, and religion and writing yet another of the most audacious and widely read books of the twentieth century—The God Delusion.
Called “one of the best nonfiction writers alive today” (Stephen Pinker) and a “prize-fighter” (Nature), Richard Dawkins cheerfully, mischievously, looks back on a lifetime of tireless intellectual adventure and engagement. Exploring the halls of intellectual inquiry and stardom he encountered after the publication of his seminal work, The Selfish Gene; affectionately lampooning the world of academia, publishing, and television; and studding the pages with funny stories about the great men and women he’s known, Dawkins offers a candid look at the events and ideas that encouraged him to shift his attention to the intersection of culture, religion, and science. He also invites the reader to look more closely at the brilliant succession of ten influential books that grew naturally out of his busy life, highlighting the ideas that connect them and excavating their origins.
On the publication of his tenth book, the smash hit, The God Delusion, a “resounding trumpet blast for truth” (Matt Ridley), Richard Dawkins was catapulted from mere intellectual stardom into a circle of celebrity thinkers dubbed, “The New Atheists”—including Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett.
Throughout A Brief Candle in the Dark, Dawkins shares with us his infectious sense of wonder at the natural world, his enjoyment of the absurdities of human interaction, and his bracing awareness of life’s brevity: all of which have made a deep imprint on our culture.
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“If anyone in modern science deserves to regard his or her own contribution with pride, even with triumph, it is Richard Dawkins… Vastly illuminating.” — New York Times Book Review
“. . . a jam-packed memoir by a brilliant, complex, and contradictory man. . . . What makes Candle a page-turner is Dawkins’ engaging, conversational style and hilarious anecdotes.” — Philadelphia Inquirer
“...fascinating, thoroughly readable, and joyful. . . . Dawkins offers great insight into the nature of science and introduces readers to many of the major players responsible for creating the field of evolutionary biology.” — Publishers Weekly
“Displays all the intelligence, insight, clear-thinking, literary quality, and at time provocative observations we have come to expect from Dawkins.” — Skeptical Inquirer
“Readers of Brief Candle are in for many treats: lively prose from one of our greatest living writers; stimulating ideas on the nature of life and the human condition; and the opportunity to eavesdrop on the workings of an extraordinary mind, intellectually fierce yet personally generous.” — Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct and The Better Angels of Our Nature
“Filled with delight. . . . He gives full credit to collaborators, shares of his loves as well as his sorrows, and adds a wealth of interesting details about the inspiration for his books and his popular writing’s relationship to his purely scientific work. ” — Oregonian
“This is the Richard Dawkins I have come to know and respect as a friend, colleague, and fellow traveler. For those who want some insight into the true nature of the man behind The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, this book is sure to please, and perhaps surprise.” — Lawrence M. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist and the author of bestselling books including The Physics of Star Trek, and A Universe from Nothing. He co-starts with Richard Dawkins in the film The Unbelievers.
“Richard always writes like he’s telling you a story, which is why so many of us non-science people understand science better than we used to. But when the story is his own life, it’s doubly compelling.” — Bill Maher
“Brief Candle in the Dark provides so many pleasures: the searing clarity of scientific insights and explanations; the depth of wit and width of erudition; a prose which can soar to poetry while never losing its accuracy; an inspired delight in the beauty of nature’s ways.” — Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away
“Brief Candle in the Dark gives future historians [Dawkins’] pathway to greatness that begins with the publication of his monumental The Selfish Gene and climaxes with the book that may do more to elevate atheism to a legitimate position than any that came before, whose impact reverberates still.” — Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist at Scientific American, author of The Moral Arc
“Sometimes funny, sometimes fascinating, and always interesting, Dawkins takes us through his later years, revealing the humanity behind the man like never before. Brief Candle in the Dark reminds us, warmly and eloquently, that the greatest accomplishments are achieved when science is bolstered by good will and kindness.” — David Silverman, President of American Atheists, Inc.
“In Brief Candle in the Dark, Dawkins takes us through a journey of anecdotes and conversations with world-class scientists and thinkers. You don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate how deeply Dawkins loves interpreting science for the rest of us in this remarkable book about his own life.” — Herb Silverman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, founder and president of the Secular Coalition for America, and author of Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt.
From the Back Cover
In this hugely entertaining sequel to the New York Times bestselling memoir An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins delves deeply into his bravura intellectual life spent kick-starting new conversations about science, culture, and religion—and writing yet another of the most audacious and widely read books of the twentieth century—The God Delusion
Called "one of the best nonfiction writers alive today" (Steven Pinker) and a "prize-fighter" (Nature), Richard Dawkins cheerfully and mischievously looks back on a lifetime of tireless intellectual adventure and engagement. Exploring the halls of scholarly inquiry and stardom he encountered after the publication of his seminal work, The Selfish Gene, he affectionately lampoons the worlds of academia, publishing, and television and studs the pages with funny stories about the great men and women he's known—including Douglas Adams, Christopher Hitchens, John Maynard Smith, Dame Miriam Rothschild, Nathan Myhrvold, Richard Leakey, Carolyn Porco, and Philip Pullman. Dawkins offers here a candid look both at what encouraged him to shift his attention from the laboratory to the intersection of culture, religion, and science and at many of the primary figures in the merger between scientific and literary fields known to some as "The Third Culture."
On the publication of his tenth book, the smash hit The God Delusion, a "resounding trumpet blast for truth" (Matt Ridley), Dawkins was catapulted from mere intellectual stardom into a circle of celebrity thinkers dubbed "The Four Horsemen," which included Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett. Shedding new light on the book's publication and content, Dawkins makes clear the boundary between literary assault and literary satire. Brief Candle in the Dark allows the reader a closer look at the brilliant succession of influential books that grew naturally out of his busy life, highlighting the ideas that connect them and excavating their origins.
Throughout, Dawkins shares with us his infectious sense of wonder at the natural world, his enjoyment of the absurdities of human interaction, and his bracing awareness of life's brevity: all of which have made a deep imprint on our culture.
- Publisher : Ecco; Illustrated edition (September 29, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 464 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0062288431
- ISBN-13 : 978-0062288431
- Item Weight : 1.6 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.41 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,389,009 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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Once again, I am delighted by Richard Dawkins' memories, this being the second half of his life's reflections and his writing skills. As I ponder his own closing verse in 'Brief Candle in the Dark' (it is a poem to me) and I reflect upon his tales from his well-spent years, I am warmed by his depth of generosity throughout his life and thoroughly fascinated by all of it.
Since he and I have shared 74 parallel cycles of this planet (but I am ten months his junior... and I finished my formal education in Oxford MASSACHUSETTS!), I have still felt a wonderful kinship with him as he described his journey, with each of his words enriching my life in the process as well.
Dawkins' stories are so wonderful in so many ways, exposing me to parts of our same world that I might have otherwise missed. He described classic education and academic research while he introduced me to interesting friends that, from other than a rebirth or by this chance, I would have probably never experienced any of it.
His multidisciplinary depth has always amazed me and l have easily overlooked the one or two occasions where he did depart from his storytelling to burrow deeply into the fruits of one of his several pioneering efforts for the benefit of his zealots. I do suspect that this was his way of challenging these contemporaries to follow him and further describe the magic of our reality.
His efforts to communicate who we are and where we come from, in the clearest of language for more than forty-plus years, have been mammoth but they were not without their controversies. His personal perspective of his well-lived life should be revered by all and emulated by many. The world needs more leaders across the board with his veracity, his frank optimism, along with his total dedication; as a bonus, his talent for the written and spoken word is clearly unmatched.
Bob Magnant [magnantdotorg] is a fact-based novelist who writes about politics, technology, public policy, globalization, Internet security and the US in the Middle East. He is the author of ' The Last Transition... '
Just buy the book. It's exactly what you expect it to be.
I think Appetite for Wonder was a better memoir than this, with a much more cohesive narrative of Richard's life and how he developed. I think that arranging the book into sections dealing with different themes in his life was a good idea, but it just didn't quite work as well as it could have.
I can understand why people get annoyed with professor Dawkins quoting his previous books to such an extent, but as this is talking about his books and the ideas they promote, this really is rather unavoidable.
I can also understand why people feel like is is name-dropping, but this complaint I find rather silly, as it is quite clear that the purpose of this is to credit those who had such an influence on him and his work.
As it is, this book discusses the details of professor Dawkins' academic life, although the anachronistic organisation lends itself to understanding his career less well than his previous book, but his gratitude to his colleagues and his enthusiasm for science and learning still shine through clearly.
Top reviews from other countries
One of the best things about this book is that is has pointed me in the direction of so many other great books I now have a year's worth of reading to look forward to. Too many people think of Dawkins as strident but they clearly have not bothered to read any of his books. He is modest, supremely smart and very funny. The end of the book contains a welcome recap of the main themes of most of his books which was interesting to read all at once. If people had any sense Dawkins would stand alongside Stephen Fry and David Attenborough in "national treasure" status.
A great author, a great man. Well worth reading. Thoroughly enjoyable read.