The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True Hardcover – Oct 4 2011
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"I wanted to write this book but I wasn't clever enough. Now I've read it, I am"
“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.
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Top Customer Reviews
"The truth is more magical--on the best and most exciting sense of the word--than any myth or made-up mystery or miracle. Science has its own magic: the magic of REALITY."
The above extract comes at the very end of this extraordinary book by Richard Dawkins with illustrations by Dave McKean. Dawkins is a British ethologist (the scientific study of animal behaviour), evolutionary biologist and author. He is emeritus fellow of New College, a constituent college of the University of Oxford in the UK and was this university's Professor for the Public Understanding of Science from 1995 to 2008. McKean has illustrated and designed many award-winning books and graphic novels.
The chapters of this book are titled by a question like "What is the sun?" or "Why are there so many different kinds of animals?" Most chapters usually begin with some mythical answers to a chapter title question. (Amazingly, many people today believe these mythical answers.) Then a scientific or reality-based answer to the question is provided.
Who can read this book? Anyone aged 120 to 12 (including those adults who still think like children). For those with a solid science background, this book can be regarded as a good review of important concepts.
The myths chosen for this book are from around the world such as Babylonian, Judeo-Christian, Aztec, Maori, Aboriginal, Nordic, Hellenic, Chinese, and Japanese. One chapter includes modern alien abduction mythology and another chapter omits mythology altogether (there is a reason for this omission and Dawkins explains why).Read more ›
Metaphorically, neither did humanity until science came around. In both cases (mine and humanity's), science provided the tool for which to measure how reliable an explanation was in relation to another. How to compare two otherwise equal explanations based on explanatory and predictive power based on reliable data. This book pits common stories of creation and causation on a whole rage of topics, from the origins of species, to what we are made of, to the cycles of seasons and day/night. Most of the chapters start off with a "magical" explanation that is based on religion. All religions are represented here, including ancient and/or tribal religions. The book then moves on to explaining the phenomenon in question using simple, logical science.
I've rated this book five stars, but for two important audiences, it won't be.
First, for experienced scientists or science readers, this book will be pretty low-level. It's aimed at people who aren't familiar with science and its explanations (e.g., Dawkins cites ~20% of Europeans don't know how long it takes us to orbit the sun, and why- this is the book for them). It would also work well for younger readers. I can see ages 12+ absorbing this book quite well.Read more ›
I think this book is a beautiful way to give kids tools to judge for their selves.
I come from South America. My family is Roman Catholic. As a child I was sent to “study” Catechism but I didn’t make it to the end. I was fired.
During my catechism classes, I once asked the priest how come he could believe somebody could walk on water. Then, I continued, do you really believe that? Is that what you say serious?
As I was asking questions, the priest sent me back home three times. After the third time not even my grandma could talk the priest into letting me in again.
My grandma was very worry because of the church and what people would say and of course my future in hell. I was sad too but not for the same reasons. At that time, I didn’t understand too much about religion or heaven or hell.
I was also sad because it was the first time I had to deal with rejection and on top of that I’ve lost all the friends I have made during few Catechism classes.
I tell you this story because if, as a kid, I had have an idea about how we know what is really true, I would have been equipped to judge by myself and better deal with it.
I read The Magic of Reality in 2012 I now buy it as a gift for the first communion of my niece.
Most recent customer reviews
Caution: This is not a fully illustrated edition. The text is great but I was disappointed that it did not have all of the illustrations that were in an earlier edition. Read morePublished 23 days ago by James E Crist
A truly magical book about our reality. Dawkins explains the science of our world in simple yet detailed ways, while also telling us how our ancestors explained these same... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amanda
Review courtesy of www.subtleillumination.com
There are some amazing things in nature, things we typically take for granted: rainbows, the seasons, earthquakes, matter... Read more
what a great educational book. everything made all the new knowledge interesting to me, especially the astrological parts. Read morePublished 2 months ago by David Taylor
This book is far too simple for anyone who has graduated from high school. As an engineering student, I have learned very little from this, but would have possibly benefited when I... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
The myths are alright but it felt like a grade 12 science review. Better off watching Cosmos. Would not buy.Published 3 months ago by snowball
This book summarizes very well information only available from many, many other sources.Published 5 months ago by John Deakos
A good book for someone with a grade 8 education. I found the long parenthetical asides to be particularly annoying.Published 5 months ago by Richard J. Seabright