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The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing Paperback – Nov 19 2009

5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; Reprint edition (Oct. 10 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199216819
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199216819
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 3.3 x 15.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #206,301 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


Review from previous edition: "A brilliant collection... If you could only ever read one science book, this should probably be it." --New Scientist 01/03/2008

"The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing edited by Richard Dawkins, come up trumps... It is to be hoped that many will not only read this excellent volume but will then go on to read in their entirety some of the individual works themeselves. That is the ultimate success of any anthology." --Mary Strickland. Chemistry World May 2008

"A sparkling anthology." --David Sinclair, Tribune 18/04/08

"The book makes for a fascinating browse, but it could also inspire as a bed-time volume, filling the readers' dreams with exploding stars and tiny atoms." --Peter Ranscombe, The Scotsman 19/04/08

"This is a superb collection... it's a damn good read even if you're only marginally interested in science. I love this book...it's a must-read that will surely make a major contribution to the public understanding of science." --BBC Focus (science and technology). John Gribbin 01/05/08

"For the science-savvy. it's like a gigantic prize-giving-cum-back-slap. For the science-phobic, it's a banner-waving call to come on in and give it a try." --Jonathan Gibbs, Metro London 19.03.08

"Beautiful volume...A labour of love." --Steven Poole, The Guardian 26/04/2008

"A glorius celebration of literary scientists." --Harry Richie Mail on Sunday 30/03/2008

"It is a real treasure trove of unexpected pleasures." --Sunday Telegraph. Kenan Malik 13/04/2008

"This isn't Dawkins as the centre of attention but as a benign and generous guide to the best science writing, with commentaries from the master." --Peter Forbes, The Independent 16 May 2008

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is the first holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, and a Fellow of New College, Oxford. His bestselling books include The God Delusion (2006); The Selfish Gene (1976); The Extended Phenotype (1982); The Blind Watchmaker (1986); Unweaving the Rainbow (1998); and The Ancestor's Tale (2004). 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 1987 Royal Society of Literature Award, the 1990 Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the 1994 Nakayama Prize, the 1997 International Cosmos Prize for Achievement in Human Science, the Kistler Prize in 2001, and the Shakespeare Prize in 2005.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dawkins is more famous for his own eloquent science writing but in this case he has selected short exerpts from a wide range of science writers (not including himself) and compiled them into one highly readable book. All the essays are short and for the most part very interesting, drawn from infuential works in all areas of scientific endeavour. Each chapter is preceed by an introduction from Dawkins explaining the significance of the essay or some interesting aspect of the authors work that may pique your interest to read on. The chapters are loosely organized under fairly general themes but each stands alone and can be read independantly. I often pick up the book when I have a few idle minutes and want something quick and thought provoking to fill my time.
This would be a great Christmas gift for anyone with a broad general interest in science, whether or not they had any formal education in these fields of study.
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Format: Hardcover
The world as we don't know it is a miracle. The world as we know it is a miracle too. The greatest minds are open to us, once again, as soon as we open this marvelously conceived book of great scientist excerpts. Dawkins puts at work his huge experience as a scientist in studying literature (scientific and otherwise) and extracting the most significant and impressive passages. Dawkins' commentary on the selected pieces and the selected authors is in itself alone worth the value assigned to the whole book.

An eye opener, even for the most open minded and scientifically minded among us, this book was a joy for me to read and a source of exquisite literary jewels to which I will surely come back, frequently.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9af3e93c) out of 5 stars 38 reviews
185 of 195 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9add75c4) out of 5 stars If this book doesn't jump start your interest in science, you just might be a redneck.... April 15 2008
By Skidney Frybabie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9add7918) out of 5 stars Dawkins, a master writer June 12 2008
By William Skyvington - Published on Amazon.com
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.
34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9add7b58) out of 5 stars Must-read for the scientifically aware June 12 2008
By I. G. Norris - Published on Amazon.com
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.
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9add7dd4) out of 5 stars Pelucid writings from brilliant minds July 2 2008
By Charles Gidley Wheeler - Published on Amazon.com
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. I can't recommend this book highly enough.

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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
By Alex C. Telander - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Richard Dawkins, author of The Selfish Gene, The Ancestor's Tale, and The God Delusion, needs no introduction having established himself as a reputable voice when discussing science in its many forms. His latest effort is The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, in a hefty tome, where Dawkins attempts to present a concise view of science to the world in many short passages from many different scientists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries that tessellate together to form a beautiful volume of writing.

The book is divided into four parts, as Dawkins organizes the vast wealth of science writing available not in chronological order, but groups the extracts into the following categories: "What Scientists Study," "Who Scientists Are," "What Scientists Think," "What Scientists Delight in." Organizing it this ways serves to make the book more entertaining in the variety of subjects that are presented when the book is read from cover to cover. Should the reader want to use the book more as a reference tool or to look up some specific authors or terms, there is a thorough index at the end of the book. With each extract, Dawkins offers up his own commentary and reason for choosing the specific piece.

All the great scientists make an appearance here: Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Francis Crick, Brian Greene, Jared Diamond, Richard Feynman, Carl Sagan, Primo Levi, the list goes on and on. But this list is not reserved for the greats of science, but many of the women and men who have worked hard in their lives to further the knowledge of science in areas such as genetics, evolution, string theory, relativity, and mathematics. The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing is a weighty, comprehensive book with almost everything science has had to offer in the last hundred years or so, and while it may not be for the science novice, the ideas, theories, and hypotheses expressed in this book have reshaped science, and offered up hope and ideals for future answers and theories that will continue to change the world as we know it.

Find more reviews, as well as a selection of my writing, and a link to the book review podcast BookBanter at[..]

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