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An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist Hardcover – Sep 24 2013

4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco Press; 1st Edition edition (Sept. 24 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062225790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062225795
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #103,511 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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“Fantastic. [Offers] a fascinating glimpse of how one of today’s most influential scientific minds blossomed into himself.” (Maria Popova,

“Surprisingly intimate and moving. … He is here to find out what makes us tick: to cut through the nonsense to the real stuff.” (The Guardian)

“Dawkins’ style [is] clear and elegant as usual… a personal introduction to an important thinker and populariser of science. … provide[s] a superb background to the academic and social climate of postwar British research.” (Financial Times)

“The Richard Dawkins that emerges here is a far cry from the strident, abrasive caricature beloved of lazy journalists … There is no score-settling, but a generous appreciation and admiration of the qualities of others, as well as a transparent love of life, literature - and science.” (The Independent)

“[Here] we have the kindling of Mr. Dawkins’s curiosity, the basis for his unconventionality.” (A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All)

“…this isn’t Dawkins’s version of My Family and Other Animals. It’s the beauty of ideas that arouses his appetite for wonder: and, more especially, his relentless drive … towards the answer.” (The Times (UK))

“[An Appetite for Wonder is] a memoir that is funny and modest, absorbing and playful. Dawkins has written a marvelous love letter to science… and for this, the book will touch scientists and science-loving persons. … an enchanting memoir to read, one that I recommend highly.” (NPR)

“…charming, boring, brilliant, contradictory, conventional, revolutionary. We leave it perhaps not full of facts or conclusions, but with a feeling of knowing the man.” (New York Daily News)

“Richard Dawkins is a hero of mine, so being able to read about how he became the man and the thinker he is, was a particular delight for me. ... Some people get their kicks from Superman’s origin story, or Batman’s origin story ... But for me, it was Richard Dawkins.” (Bill Maher)

“In An Appetite for Wonder Dawkins turns his critical analysis inward to reveal how his mind works and what personal events and cultural forces most shaped his thinking. Destined to become a classic in the annals of science autobiography.” (Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of The Believing Brain and Why Darwin Matters)

“Skepticism and atheism do not arrive from revelation or authority. In our culture it’s a slow thoughtful process... For the modern skeptical/atheist movement, in the beginning -- there was Dawkins and he was wicked good. Appetite for Wonder shows us this beginning.” (Penn Jillette, author of God No! and Every Day is an Atheist Holiday)

“Told with frankness and eloquence, warmth and humor, this is ... a truly entertaining and enlightening read and I recommend it to anyone who wants a better understanding of Dawkins the man and the rightful place of science in our modern world.” (Lawrence Krauss, Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, author of A Universe from Nothing and Physics of Star Trek)

“Enjoyable from start to finish, this exceptionally accessible book will appeal to science lovers, lovers of autobiographies-and, of course, all of Dawkins’s fans, atheists and theists alike.” (Library Journal, starred review)

“Well-written, captivating, and filled with fascinating anecdotes.” (Publishers Weekly)

“This memoir is destined to be a historical document that will be ceaselessly quoted.” (The Daily Beast)

“This first volume of Dawkins’s autobiography … comes to life when describing the competitive collaboration and excitement among the outstanding ethologists and zoologists at Oxford in the Seventies-which stimulated his most famous book, The Selfish Gene.” (London Evening Standard)

“Dawkins proves that today he is still an extraordinary thinker, and one who has made an enormous contribution to understanding human nature. This memoir is a fascinating account of one man’s attempt to find answers to some of the most difficult questions posed to mankind.” (NPR Books)

About the Author

Richard Dawkins was first catapulted to fame with his iconic work The Selfish Gene, which he followed with a string of bestselling books. Part one of his autobiography, An Appetite for Wonder, was published in 2013.

Dawkins is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He is the recipient of numerous honours and awards, including the Royal Society of Literature Award (1987), the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society (1990), the International Cosmos Prize for Achievement in Human Science (1997), the Kistler Prize (2001), the Shakespeare Prize (2005), the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science (2006), the Galaxy British Book Awards Author of the Year Award (2007), the Deschner Prize (2007) and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest (2009). He retired from his position as Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University in 2008 and remains a Fellow of New College.

In 2012, scientists studying fish in Sri Lanka created Dawkinsia as a new genus name, in recognition of his contribution to the public understanding of evolutionary science. In the same year, Richard Dawkins appeared in the BBC Four television series Beautiful Minds, revealing how he came to write The Selfish Gene and speaking about some of the events covered in this autobiography.

In 2013, Dawkins was voted the world's top thinker in Prospect magazine's poll of over 10,000 readers from over 100 countries.

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Format: Hardcover

"I became a secret reader. In the holidays from boarding school, I would sneak up to my bedroom with a book: a guilty truant from the fresh air and the virtuous outdoors. And when I started learning biology properly at school, it was still bookish pursuits that held me. I was drawn to questions that grown-ups would have called philosophical. What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? How did it all start?"

The above comes from this tell-all memoir from the author of such best-sellers as "The Selfish Gene" (1976), "The Blind Watchmaker" (1986), "The God Delusion" (2006), and "The Magic of Reality" (2011), RICHARD DAWKINS. He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. Dawkins has received numerous honours and awards especially in science. He retired from his position as Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University in 2008.

In 2012, a new genus name called "Dawkinsia" was created in recognition of his contribution to the public understanding of evolutionary science. In 2013, Dawkins was voted the world's top thinker in "Prospect" magazine's poll (of 10,000 readers from over 100 countries).

This book is actually the first book in his two-part memoir. (The second book will be released sometime in 2015). As Dawkins tells us:

"Publication of 'The Selfish Gene' [in 1976] marks the end of the first half of my life."

In this first book, Dawkins tells us everything from his birth in Africa in 1941, his parents, and he even delves a bit into his family tree. Then he moved to England when he was eight. We learn of his early school and family experiences. After this he went to Oxford University in 1959 where many positive influences on his life occurred.
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As someone who has read every other Dawkins book, I have to say that this particular one seems to be meant more for the fans. If you aren't at least a little bit familiar with who Dawkins is and what a magnificent gentleman he is, you may lose interest in this book (part 1 of 2 apparently), as he explains what it was like growing up, figures and events that motivated him and how he first came into his studies of Zoology and gene theory. For fans such as myself, this book was a real treat. It was as if Dawkins was sitting right across from me, telling me his life stories! Most of his other books require you to pay some sort of moderate attention to detail and put your thinking cap on every now and then to grasp the concepts involved within. This book is really more about simply being along for the ride and "witnessing" the events of Dawkins past. If you like the man, grab the book!
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Format: Hardcover
With "An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist" Richard Dawkins has written one of the most engrossing, often entertaining, and insightful autobiographical memoirs of our time, and one worthy of comparison with great memoirs written by the likes of Frank McCourt ("Angela's Ashes") and Mary Karr ("The Liar's Club"). It is destined to be seen as a classic autobiography written by a scientist, and one that reaffirms Dawkins's status as one of our most important contemporary scientist writers, alongside the likes of the late Stephen Jay Gould, the late Carl Sagan, E. O. Wilson and Sean B. Carroll. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his view of militant New Atheism, (I shall note tersely, as an aside, that I often disagree) Dawkins uses the same kind of critical analysis that is so evident in prior books like "The God Delusion" in recounting his own life and career, noting the biographical events and cultural influences that have shaped him into becoming what many, including yours truly, regard as the foremost public intellectual of our time. In especially lucid prose, Dawkins explains how his family connections, and especially, his education in prep schools in East Africa and England, and, in particular, his undergraduate education at Balliol College, Oxford University, led to his career as a mathematically-inclined experimental biologist working on animal behavior and then, by accident, as a crticially acclaimed author and public intellectual. As a former evolutionary biologist, I found especially worthy of note, the research he did for his Ph. D. dissertation and as a young professor at Berkeley and Oxford universities, which led to his recognition of the gene as the fundamental unit of natural selection, as expressed in his landmark debut work, "The Selfish Gene".Read more ›
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I was a huge fan of Richard Dawkins long before The God Delusion, which I view as an interesting book, but not one that will change the course of humanity. In contrast, his first book, The Selfish Gene, is second only to Darwin's works on evolution as the guiding light in biology. Of course, much of the work cited within the Selfish Gene's is not Dawkin's (e.g., Trivers, Hamilton, etc.), but it frames the gene-centric view of evolution (the only view with significant support) brilliantly. It's a massive achievement that has, and will continue to, influence thousands of researchers, whose research will in turn help shape the course of humanity. That's the background from which I came to this book. I am a huge fan of (early) Dawkins the scientist, a moderate fan of Dawkins the atheist. Since the title was the making of a scientist, I thought I would be in good hands.

Well, I was a bit disappointed. The book starts with almost 50 pages of his parents and ancestors. This would be interesting if it ultimately had an impact on his becoming a scientist, but it doesn't really beyond setting the standard for getting a post-secondary education. The next 100 pages are of his young childhood, the next 100 pages are of his later education, and the last 40 pages dwell on The Selfish Gene. Suffice to say, I was disappointed. His life story isn't particularly compelling or interesting. Yes, there are tidbits here and there that are unique, but for the most part you could change much of his life with one of his peers and you wouldn't lose much.
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