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The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True | [Richard Dawkins]

The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist, presents a gorgeously lucid, science book examining some of the nature’s most fundamental questions both from a mythical and scientific perspective. Science is our most precise and powerful tool for making sense of the world. Before we developed the scientific method, we created rich mythologies to explain the unknown. The pressing questions that primitive men and women asked are the same ones we ask as children. Who was the first person? What is the sun? Why is there night and day?
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Publisher's Summary

Richard Dawkins, the world’s most famous evolutionary biologist, presents a gorgeously lucid, science book examining some of the nature’s most fundamental questions both from a mythical and scientific perspective.

Science is our most precise and powerful tool for making sense of the world. Before we developed the scientific method, we created rich mythologies to explain the unknown. The pressing questions that primitive men and women asked are the same ones we ask as children. Who was the first person? What is the sun? Why is there night and day? The myths that address these questions are beautiful, but in every case their beauty is exceeded by the scientific truth.

With characteristic clarity and verve, Dawkins answers these big questions. Looking first at some of the myths that arose to answer the question, he then, dazzles us with the facts. He looks at the building blocks of matter, the first humans, the sun - explaining the life and death of stars; why there’s a night and a day - ranging from our solar system to the inner workings of our planet; what a rainbow really is—going from the rainbow in your backyard to the age of the universe; and finally, he poses a question that still baffles scientists: When did everything begin?

©2011 Richard Dawkins, Ltd. (P)2011 Simon & Schuster, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"I wanted to write this book but I wasn't clever enough. Now I've read it, I am." (Ricky Gervais)

“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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (1051 )
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  •  
    Scott Santa Clara, CA, United States 06-01-12
    Scott Santa Clara, CA, United States 06-01-12 Member Since 2011

    No B.S. reviews. I'll never soft-pedal bad writing or inept narration.

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    "Should be on every high school reading list."

    Pretty basic stuff if you are a science buff. However, pass this one along to one of those adults who really didn't pay attention in school, or to an adolescent that you care about. A great superstition-buster.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 05-22-12
    Gary Las Cruces, NM, United States 05-22-12 Member Since 2015

    Letting the rest of the world go by

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    "Not his best effort"

    I enjoyed this book, but in comparison to his other books this one is only okay. It's similar but not as good as "The History of Nearly Everything" or "Science Matters". Each of those books cover similar topics but in more depth and better expositions.

    It's unfair of me to rank this book in comparison to the author's other works. If I had not listened to all of his other books I might have rated the book a 4, but I loved his other books so much I had higher expectations for this one.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. PALMDALE, CA, United States 05-21-12
    E. PALMDALE, CA, United States 05-21-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Nothing new"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I love Dawkins in general but this is pretty much just a rehashing of previous work.


    Any additional comments?

    Great for a "first Dawkins book" reader.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 02-07-14
    M. S. Cohen New York, NY USA 02-07-14 Member Since 2012
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    "It's a science textbook for pre-teens"

    The sub-head "How we know what's really true" led me to believe the book would be about how to refute and rebut arguments from the religious right on the validity of the Bible, etc.

    Instead it's a rather dull science textbook written for pre-teenagers.

    And unfortunately the woman's voice and intonation makes it seem that she is speaking to someone who doesn't understand English.

    I like Hawkins, but not this.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Thomas Sewell, NJ, United States 12-22-11
    Thomas Sewell, NJ, United States 12-22-11 Member Since 2014
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    "An about everything kinda book, with a slight bias"

    This one is ok, presented well, and I liked the presentation and the author, and narration of the team. Breaks it up from having one speaker the entire book. Appreciated the effort of gathering the knowledge presented, and when to say "I don't understand."

    Now this tells you about the DNA, Universe, religion, myths.... type thing. Giving the science side of the house. All valid stuff and good. So if you've never listened to one of these "everything about everything" volumes then I recommend it, and learned a few more things. The slight bias is to describe how the science point of view is correct, and once you get past the stories, myths, and non-logic of the other beliefs, the science presented is "what's really true." But that is what their theme is, so its on path with the sub-title. So, between the vast amount of science info, intermixed with the stated bias, its a lot of info and an interesting listen. I follow the science side of the house myself, but I also know that, 'what you believe is what's true for you and how you perceive the universe,' so... there's that. Enjoy, I recommend it.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brett 07-10-15
    Brett 07-10-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great primer on science and logic"

    As a science degree-holder, this book was at times a bit below my "reading level", so to speak, as it explained many things which the average science enthusiast will already understand. I did still learn quite a few things, though - like how a rainbow is formed - and formed a more comprehensive understanding of still more concepts, so it was definitely an enjoyable listen.
    I really think this book would be wonderful for those newly-introduced to or ill-informed on science. It does a great job deconstructing pseudoscience, mythical thinking, and general irrationality, then following up with tested and true, evidence-based explanations for everything from the Big Bang to evolution and the color spectrum. Excerpts from different cultures' myths start off most chapters, followed by the actual scientific explanation of the phenomena the myths were attempting to grasp, which makes for a unique and engaging format.
    Overall, a great listen that I'd recommend to anyone old enough to understand basic science. Hearing it in Richard Dawkins' own voice was a real treat, as well.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jake 06-06-15
    Jake 06-06-15 Member Since 2014
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    "A wealth of logic and sensibility."

    This book is a wonderful listen. Richard and Lala are profoundly well spoken and charismatic. This book, sadly, is a short one indeed. However, It is wonderfully structured to give ancient (and on occasion recent) myths of current knowledge and to explain away the myths with rationality and science. As a university student in sciences, I found some of the chapters were boring and basic considering my prior studies In the field. Yet I must stress that to anyone not versed in advanced sciences would find this book infinitely engrossing.

    Overall, I would highly recommend this piece to anyone interested in logic and science (or those needing a strong dose of either or both). Yet I would recommend one of Richards more complex writings for those already in possession of the two.

    On a side note, I did thoroughly enjoy learning of these amusing myths.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 04-24-15
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    "Awful."

    Very bad. I don't like that there are two narrators. They sound very cold and robotic.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Evans, GA, United States 04-06-15
    Gary Evans, GA, United States 04-06-15
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    "Excellent book."

    Typical Richard Dawkins .... Hard core logic, entertaining, and very informative. I just wish I had half of his intellect. He is an amazing scientist and author. 5 Stars.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marti Darling Twisp, Wa United States 04-04-15
    Marti Darling Twisp, Wa United States 04-04-15 Member Since 2013
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    "Great Listen!"

    I'm hooked. I want to listen to all of his books. I love how he mingles myth, magic, or miracles with science and practical logic throughout the chapters. I can't wait to download another of his books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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