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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

Review

"If you could only ever read one science book, this should probably be it."--New Scientist


"This a book one reads over a prolonged period of time, being in essence written for the nightstand or the table next to a comfortable armchair. This book richly deserves to be in any library, public, private, or academic." -- CHOICE
"It is a volume intended to celebrate rather than analyze modern science writing, and it fulfills this aim well: it is a book from which the love of science and the love of language shine." -- Science Magazine
"If you could only ever read one science book, this should probably be it."--New Scientist



"Richard Dawkins's useful and entertaining anthology, The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, contains essays that have already stood the test of time. Each piece has a preamble of one or two paragraphs in which Dawkins explains why he chose it. His reasoning is impeccable, and these introductions leave the reader eager to devour what follows. I found the book hard to put down."-- William Cannon for American Scientist


"This a book one reads over a prolonged period of time, being in essence written for the nightstand or the table next to a comfortable armchair. This book richly deserves to be in any library, public, private, or academic." -- CHOICE


"It is a volume intended to celebrate rather than analyze modern science writing, and it fulfills this aim well: it is a book from which the love of science and the love of language shine." -- Science Magazine


"If you could only ever read one science book, this should probably be it."--New Scientist


"Much of the writing is indeed wonderful, filled with evocative imagery, poetic prose, and profound insights into nature. Dawkins wrote brief introductions to all 84 pieces...in this volume we wee another side of the man: The Dawkins who loves science passionately, who marvels at what it teaches us about the nature of things, and who is exceptionally skillful at conveying those findings to the general reader."--Karl W. Gilberson, Books and Culture: A Christian Review


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.
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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: #167,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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