This is the type of book I'd recommend to someone who is struggling to understand how evolution works. For example, friends who are religious ONLY because they can't believe that evolution could create humans. However, it's not a book to casually enjoy.
Yes. Dawkins has an incredibly indepth understanding of biology, genetics, evolution, etc. I learned vast amounts from this book, even though it was something of a struggle to get through. I especially appreciated Dawkins' narration - he's clearly excited about the material, and has a very pleasing voice. He would be an excellent person to hear a lecture from. Lalla Ward is similarly well spoken.
Hell no. It was exhausting in some places, and I needed to increase the narration speed to 1.25x just to finish it. This is not an easy book.
I got exactly what I wanted out of reading this book. I learned how evolution works, and I learned how we came to exist without the existence of any particular deity. Though this isn't a specifically atheist book, its purpose is to explain life without intelligent design. And it succeeds at this thoroughly.
But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
Not nearly as polemical as I expected it to be. A good solid piece of science writing on, and defense of, Darwinian evolution. The audiobook shows how back and forth reading between Dawkins and Ward worked (and probably made production time minimal).
Blind Watchmaker was read by the author and his spouse—wonderful readers both. The book appealed to me because I had enjoyed The God Delusion and hoped for a similarly enjoyable and educational experience. I had also read The Selfish Gene, which seemed to me harder to read than Delusion. Watchmaker turned out to more like Selfish than Delusion. All good books, but if you don’t come to Watchmaker and Selfish with a burning desire to understand Darwin, you may, by the end of your reading, grow numb, as I did, with the details.
By way of pointing out the elements I found most enjoyable in Watchmaker:
1) The author’s reasoning skills are impressive. He has thought and researched deeply about every subject presented. Dawkins plainly announces that he means to convince his reader that Darwinian evolution presents the only rational explanation of the world’s complexity. Dawkins is anything but dispassionate.
2) Dawkins often presents a view of things that seems to me non-intuitive, yet correct. A brief example: He states that cheetahs are the enemies of gazelles and that gazelles are the enemies of cheetahs. My reaction is, No they’re not. Gazelles don’t hunt cheetahs! Dawkins goes on to say that, from the point of view of the cheetah, if the gazelle can out run the cheetah, the cheetah starves to death. The success of the gazelle, therefore, brings about the extinction of the cheetah, which is the cheetah’s definition of “enemy.” Another: Are cows the enemy of grass? Well, yes, I suppose. In fact, no. Grass has a more formidable enemy than cows—weeds are that enemy. Cows eat grass, but also eat weeds. Voila. I hadn’t thought of that. And on and on.
3 The description of a bat’s ability to hunt and navigate is worth the price of the book. And then Dawkins postulates humans from the bat’s point of view. Almost laugh-out-loud funny.
I read Delusion when it was first published in 2008—the first of his books I had read. Perhaps it too had its more detailed elements, now not recalled, elements that I might have found tiresome—not that the fault was with Dawkins, but rather with a reader, not so interested in the details as he might or should be.
So, a very good book, although not one to be enjoyed in its entirety with a merely passing interest in evolution.
Out of all of the non-fiction books I've listened to, this ranks as the best one yet. This is the second book by Dawkins that I've listened to. I am fascinated by evolutionary biology so I have a natural bias to this book and probably any book on the subject. While some parts of this book are dry, they are necessary for giving a complete picture to what is being discussed.
I enjoyed the discussion on the cumulative selection early in the book. It is a very important concept that helps explain Darwinian evolution.
Dawkins is often viewed as an atheist paragon seeking to always tear down religion but this book does not do that. His focus is on evolution and why it properly describes how we as humans came to be rather than just attacking opposing views.
Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!
Start the kids out with a Dawkins book that's a little easier to digest, like "Greatest Show on Earth" or "Magic of Reality". Since I believe that EVERY human being should read Dawkins' work, I think it's only fair that I classify WHO should read this one. If you're a logical adult, with a decent education, then this is a must have for your library.
If you are not familiar with Dawkins, then I cannot be clear enough about whether or not you should read this book. IF you are interested in Evolution AT ALL....even a little tiny bit...then READ THIS BOOK! It is the bible of evolution!
I have read the God Delusion and The Greatest Show on Earth. Professor Dawkins referenced this book and I wanted to listen to it on my commutes to work to further my understanding of evolution. This work has great information and good flow. I usually don't like when there is more then one narrator but this works out very well as there are times he is quoting something and then the narrator switches. This makes it easier to know this is occurring when you hear the voice change. Both narrators are wonderful to listen to.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
Until relatively recently (the last decade, say) I thought that the only entertaining science was Science Fiction. Dawkins proved to me (yet again) that the best of fact is so much better than most of fiction. Of course, like any argument, one doesn't have to accept the conclusion to recognise a good argument. That I do accept the conclusion probably helped me enjoy this work, but I could have been the Bishop of Birmingham and, I hope, still have recognised a well structured, logical and persuasively argued thesis when heard this one.
The argument is presented so that you don't need to understand all the science to enjoy the cut and thrust. And cut and thrust there most surely is! Dawkins is not afraid to tilt at apparently well respected opinion and, generally, he doesn't mince his words. I found this occasionally annoying when it seemed a bit mean spirited and an immediate reposte was not available from the butt of the comment, but I was able to get online and see if there was a response from, say, Gould to the criticism and this helped weather the frustration. That said, these flourishes were few and far between. Most of the criticism was obviously carefully considered and well reasoned. I particularly liked the examples. The bat was my favourite, and I did enjoy the bat with angel wings paradoy (even though I had to play it a few times to get the nuance - as I would have had to if I'd read it and had to re-read). Even though the paradoy wasa bit of a flourish, it wasn't personal (or it didn't appear to be so to me).
As for the performance, I was abit apprehensive at first about Lalla Ward's role. Of course she is Dawkins wife, but I just wasn't sure a second voice was necessary, except to highlight quotations and examples. As the performance proceeded, I changed my mind. The change of reader added interest and, after all, Ms Ward has a wonderful voice. As for Dawkins, his infectious enthusiasm is literally bubbling up in his voice. I will never forget the fantastic end to Chapter 10 as a consequence. I am looking forward to listening to him read his Selfesh Gene (one of the first books that opened my mind to Science Faction).
I love listening to books when cycling, paddleboarding, etc but I press pause when I need to concentrate. Its safer & I don't lose the plot!
One of the great modern thinkers - straight from the horse's mouth
The Selfish Gene. No prizes for guessing why
Great narration. The switching added interest
No, it was just sustained high quality
Richard Dawkins is absolutely brilliant! This is one of the most intelligent and educational books I have ever listened to or read. He is showing with an excellent examples and associations how nature works. Listen to this book if you are interested in understanding how natural selection is the driving the evolution on our planet. Everything will make so much more sense!
I've listen to Dawkins narrate On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin and that was great. Dawkins is a very clear speaker and quite pleasant to listen to.
I'm about half way through and I want to tear my hair out. I WILL FINISH THIS BOOK IF IT KILLS ME. Because I like this topic. Because it's an intelligent argument and there's a lot of interesting information in the book. Because it's one of those books that you kind of "have" to read.
But GOD this is a tedious read. The hilarious irony is that Dawkins spends a good couple paragraphs talking about how while analogy is a good way to explain complicated concepts, but it is important not to become so crack brained as to use TOO many analogies. I AGREE!!! I guess his idea of a reasonable number of analogies is very different from mine.
I felt like stopping at least a 100 times. Not because I disagree with things he is saying. Only that after his initial explanation, he goes on to press and push and provide another 5000 words on something that I ALREADY GOT THE FIRST TIME.
Is he trying to "persuade" people about Darwinian evolution? I wish there was a short version for people already convinced of this, where he just includes the first 100 words of each chapter and that way we don't have to subject ourselves to 1001 extra examples and cases of something we got in the first example.
Anyway he's laying out his argument "for" in a way that a very boring high school debate team would when arguing a case "against"
- First, define what we mean by "evolution" (not necessarily "getting better" but becoming more adapted (to the environment, predators, disease etc) and passing on more genes
- Establish the concept of "cumulative" change vs. one-shot genetic change (build an eye by tiny incremental steps)
- Lay out the case that this process took a LONG long time (more than the human concept of scale can easily grasp, but that we can compute)
- Tiny probabilities may not be that tiny given enough time to occur
...that's as far as I've got. As I said, very clearly laid out. I wish it wasn't as pedantic and boring as it ends up being...
I will prevail...
UPDATE: I finished this and then had to lie around like a trauma victim because my brain became so bored it almost shut itself off. How can such an interesting topic have become so hashed up. How can such intelligent writing be so dang boring. That is all and never again.