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on April 16, 2017
Recommended reading for those believers who refuse to accept the *fact* of evolution. Yes, evolution is "just a theory" in the same way that gravity is "just a theory": a scientific fact, not a hunch, guess or hypothesis.
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on April 15, 2017
10/10 has pictures
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on November 23, 2009
My knowledge of evolution was limited to reading Darwin and to National Geographic. This book made me realize how widespread and important evolutionary based practice is in the scientific community. The book leads the reader carefully and understandably through the latest scientific findings in this field. The odd moment when Dawkins uses this as "evidence" in his personal crusade against religion are brief and do not detract from the book.Unlike Dawkins I cannot say that I am an atheist though I fully understand why he rails against the stupidity, perfidity and propaganda of organized religion. This book did not change my belief in a greater something. It actually served to affirm my belief that whatever the greater something is, scientists are closer to understanding than priests. Whatever your prejudices, put them aside and read this wonderful book.
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on November 19, 2009
I finished reading Richard Dawkins' latest book a few weeks ago and it was a great experience. I am a follower of Dawkins' writings. Yet, I still didn't get accustomed with his ways of surprising (in all the best senses), teaching, informing me, even there where I thought I had a sound foundation myself.

Before taking up this book, I pondered if I needed to read it, as it seemed to be targetted at those not knowing about evolution and those needing more proof. Thinking of myself as convinced that evolution is a fact, I didn't believe I would find new, interesting things in a book presented as a fundamental introduction. I thought I already knew those basics.

Yet Professor Dawkins managed to surprise me, proving that indeed evolution is the greatest show on Earth and no amount of learning about it would cease my sense of wonder and awe.

There is a way of presenting matters in this book that just pushes me to reflect at evolution as a cosmic phenomenon. In my reflections, the proof for evolution is the basis for the natural consequence of humans spreading to the stars. Reverie ensues...

I particularly liked the way Dawkins writes off the "gap in the fossil record" pseudo-arguments against evolution. It is a classic exercise in scientific logic and analysis. This chapter of the book in itself is worth the whole price of admission.

Not all is rosy. There are arguments that aren't as well developed, some others that might be helped with a sound debate, to counter the "weighing in from high off" effects that sometimes the academic language provokes. But these are perhaps understandable forgettable flaws in a book it such a high and perhaps frustrating goal: writing anew in support of a topic that should be self-demonstrating. But I think even this adds value to the book, as it pushes the reader to think for herself and reflect on the propositions.

There's also the constant mentioning of the young earth creationists that could easily become annoying to more sensible eyes. But I tend to not only understand the reasoning of Richard Dawkins behind this insistence, but also strongly approve of it. It is ridiculous that, 150 years after proof was made against, there still be as crazed a debate on this fairy tale topic of full on earth creation by supernatural hollow figures.

I loved this book and I strongly recommend it.
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on October 23, 2009
The Greatest Show on Earth sets out the evidence for evolution, and shows how Darwin's exposition of the idea that all life on earth is intimately linked is massively supported by 150 years of detailed research in a wide swathe of scientific disciplines. Not only has nothing been found that controverts Darwin's insight, but whole areas of discovery and research have burgeoned from it. Dawkins is, as usual, passionate about his subject and a marvellous expositor of tricky scientific concepts; he is here also perhaps a little more relaxed than in his other books: the Greatest Show on Earth abounds with little jokes, personal digressions and amusing footnotes, in addition to some beautiful photographic illustrations and line drawings. And, boy, how the guy can write: it is a delightful and gripping read, even for a general reader who has only a vague concept of such things as radioactive dating, genetics and fossil sequencing. Pure brain-candy.
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Whether or not you believe that there is a god (God) guiding evolution, there is no rational argument against its existence and importance. Nor does an understanding of evolution diminish the wonders of the world- in fact, it augments them. Those are Dawkins' main themes in this book, and they are laid out clearly and forcefully.

The first main theme, the evidence for evolution, is the dominant theme of this book. Given his previous work on atheism, this certainly is a topic he believes passionately about. Dawkins is an authority on evolution, and has been ever since his first books on the topic (The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, and to a lesser extent, The Blind Watchmaker, are classics in evolutionary theory). What Dawkins does in this book is recite the mountains of evidence that support evolution. Fossils, development, cross-species similarities, and genetics all add up to make evolution one of the most solid and proven theories in science (perhaps more so than gravity!). He even goes the same route as Darwin in using domesticated animals as an example of evolution (guided by humans, not natural selection) in action. People who believe that the word "theory" means unproven, unsupported guessing really need to read this book to understand just how much evidence there truly is for this "theory". Dawkins even left out some of the more dramatic genetic evidence that has begun to surface recently, and the case is still rock-solid. Dawkins does avoid making direct attacks and comparisons to other "theories" such as Intelligent Design, but his case for evolution is so overwhelming it's hard to imagine a competitive theory that could knock evolution off. As a defense of evolution, this book is a hard to argue against.

The second theme, that evolution doesn't take away mystery, but rather adds to it, is less forcefully presented, but it is omnipresent throughout the book. I suppose a lot of that has to do with one's personal preference. If you like mysteries and not understanding things, then understanding evolution might not be wonderful to you. But if you are curious, then evolution's explanation of life on Earth makes all life that much more fantastic. And certainly, there are still far more questions than answers when it comes to our understanding of all life on Earth. Evolution is the best tool we have for answering those questions, and the many, many, many examples in this book are bound to fill a curious reader with wonder about how and why life has turned out the way it has.

Overall then, I find this to be Dawkins' best book since his first three. I would quibble that at times he is distracted with an antagonistic tone, but I suppose it must be frustrating constantly defending one of the most proven scientific theories ever. Ignoring that, his writing is clear and easy to read. What's more, the subject matter is so fascinating that even those familiar with biology and evolution will enjoy reading it. Dawkins is right on two things- Darwin's theory of evolution is 99.9999999999999999999999999999999999% likely to be true and the story of the evolution of life on Earth is truly The Greatest [Story] on Earth!
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on January 17, 2014
This is Richard Dawkins at his best, not simply as a great scientist, but as a teacher of science - the worthy former Charles Simonyi professor for the public understanding of science at Oxford University! He engages the non-science trained reader quickly and convincingly, but about midway through the book he lets himself sometimes be a bit carried away to fall into the role of pure scientist with the concomitant risk of maybe loosing some of his readership. A minor flaw, of any.
The book reads like an apologia for evolution by natural selection and therefore appears to be targeted chiefly at a North American audience. Is it because of this target market that the author feels he has to lash out constantly against 'creationists' and their views? It becomes tiring after a while and in my opinion detracts from the work by unnecessarily introducing Dawkin's own strong atheistic and deterministic bias here. That is my reason for giving the book only 4 stars and ending with a 'but' in my review heading.
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on June 5, 2017
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on August 26, 2012
In my opinion, Dawkins is a brilliant debater, a brilliant scientist, and an excellent author. This book, although I already firmly accepted evolution as fact, was a real eye-opener for me. So many incredible facts, and so many wonderful things. Anyone who says that life without religion is life without awe or splendour or hope is simply wrong - just read this. I would recommend this book to anyone who was interested in expanding their understanding of life, and for hearing the evidence for the theory of evolution clearly laid out. It also touches on the constant uphill battle against politically active creationist lobbyists and groups. Anyone who criticizes Dawkins for attacking them musn't understand his motivations. He's not trying to silence an alternate viewpoint to his own - he's trying to show how ignorance and illogic drive people to ignore facts and wondrous discoveries. He's trying to prevent children from being taught that Science is subjective but Religion is objective. Anyone who claims he's close-minded or refuses to hear the other side out should watch the endless debates he partakes in, respectfully hearing the other side, responding to it, asking questions and then having all his questions ignored in favour of rhetoric. One can understand why in his own book he feels at liberty to dismiss these unthinking, brainwashed people for what they are.
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on June 19, 2017
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