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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

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  •  
    Connie Freeland, WA, United States 10-10-11
    Connie Freeland, WA, United States 10-10-11 Member Since 2008
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    "Audio version is superb for us grown-ups"
    If you could sum up The Magic of Reality in three words, what would they be?

    eye-opening mesmerizing bravo


    What other book might you compare The Magic of Reality to and why?

    In a class of its own; a master and beloved teacher who is well known for his searing intellect and scorn for those who discount the collective intelligence of evidential science in favor of subjective and ancient woo, disarms himself in order to speak with gentle, unblinking clarity. Ostensibly he does this to honor his own commitment to spare youth from propaganda and unfair use of rhetorical flourish. But that technique is tremendously alluring for us grown-ups too. Here Richard Dawkins plays the wise uncle, mentoring our species to grow up and see the real world for what it really is: amazing


    What about Richard Dawkins, and Lalla Ward’s performance did you like?

    Their narration is more professional and alluring than that of most of the professionally narrated books I have listened to via Audible. I also loved the refreshing pattern of male and female voices taking turns.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    If any book could give me hope that our species might actually make it through the necessary transitions, it is this one -- provided it is widely read and listened to. I first read the hardcover, gorgeously illustrated, but was surprised I loved it far more as an author-read audiobook by which I create the pictures in my own mind while dear Uncle Richard and Aunt Lalla are reading to me!

    31 of 33 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter A Sessa 05-28-12 Member Since 2012
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    "Was this supposed to be a kids book?"
    Would you consider the audio edition of The Magic of Reality to be better than the print version?

    Having not read the print version, I wouldn't know. But I liked the tag-team narration.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I dug the emphasis on the importance of science.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not especially.


    Any additional comments?

    I really don't know how to review this book because I honestly don't know if it was meant for children. If it was, then I would add a star. I thoroughly enjoyed the juxtaposition of the mythological with the scientific. However, I did not care for the condescending tone of the text, or the narration when it came to addressing Christianity. As an atheist even I could feel Dawkins' contempt for "the Hebrew God" and I think it took away from the objectivity a bit (if that isn't ironic enough to say). All in all it was my seventh grade Earth Science text book, peppered with some mythology and anecdotes to make it mildly more engaging. I say mildly because I found my seventh grade Earth Science text book QUITE engaging as written!

    11 of 12 people found this review helpful
  •  
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 11-12-11
    aaron los angeles, CA, United States 11-12-11 Member Since 2008

    Let's face it, these authors aren't paying me, so there's no need to lie!!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Dawkins Book.....FOR KIDS"

    I mean this book is "for kids" in the best way possible, because I would actually buy it for MY kid. It's good for adults too, but pretty much sums up Dawkins' other books. I always feel a few IQ points smarter when I read his books. This one makes GREAT analogies that allows the listener to easily understand some of the more complicated subjects. Highly recommend for anyone new to Dawkins.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Mahboula, Kuwait 08-09-12
    Steven Mahboula, Kuwait 08-09-12 Member Since 2010
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    "Needed To Be Done"
    What did you love best about The Magic of Reality?

    I thought this was a nice review of reality, bringing the big picture into a small space for everyone to think about in one sitting.


    Were the concepts of this book easy to follow, or were they too technical?

    The concepts were painstakingly easy to follow.


    What about Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward ’s performance did you like?

    The performers played well off of each other, lighting the text up with their exchange of roles.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Perth, ON, Canada 03-19-12
    John Perth, ON, Canada 03-19-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Should be part of every school curriculum!"
    What did you love best about The Magic of Reality?

    That Dawkins proves once again that reality is awsome, that we need to stop inventing supernatural stories to explain life in the universe. Life is super just as it is.


    What did you like best about this story?

    They bolied down some very complex theories and made them simple for anyone to understand. His model of the immensity of the universe (foot balls and perpercorns) is a great example.


    What does Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The awe that these seasoned verteans feel comes out in their voices, this is not a dry text but a love affair that they have with our planet, our galaxy, our universe.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Science and scientist are often painted with the brush that they are cold, heartless and unemotional, Lalla and Richard prove that in their case at least, this characterization is a cosmos from the truth.


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eric Bloomington, MN, United States 10-30-11
    Eric Bloomington, MN, United States 10-30-11
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    "Reality is not a Religion"

    For anyone seeking to know more about our universe, how we got here, and why reality is more fulfilling and amazing than any myth or holy book, this is for you.

    If facts and evidence don't matter to you, this book will do nothing for you. Then again, no book will do anything for you.

    26 of 34 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Burlington, VT, United States 11-12-11
    Brian Burlington, VT, United States 11-12-11 Member Since 2011
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    "A Great Introduction to Reality!"

    Although the target audience is adolescents, you will almost certainly learn a thing or two as well. Even if you don't, the very skillfull and engaging narration by Dawkins and Ward makes for an enjoyable listen.

    This is the book God would have written if there were one!

    7 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carlos Cortés Bay Area, California 03-18-13
    Carlos Cortés Bay Area, California 03-18-13 Member Since 2005
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    "Nothing new here"
    Any additional comments?

    I'll disclaim that I only read about half the book, giving it a solid try because I've liked other books by Dawkins. But this just had nothing that interesting or new for someone with a even cursory science education.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CBlox Las Vegas, NV 07-03-12
    CBlox Las Vegas, NV 07-03-12 Member Since 2004
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    "This Christian thought it was a good"

    Dont be fooled by other reviews. This book is most definitely for adult listeners. While I liked this book for its science theories and evolutionary views I also noticed a great deal of mockery and sarcasim towards biblical stories and other close held befliefs of the Christian world. Many children wont be able to distinguish the two views and how both God and science can be true if they read this book.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Goldston Star, Idaho 06-04-12
    Michael Goldston Star, Idaho 06-04-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Good high school level science with an agenda."
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    A good introductory science text with an emphasis on explaining away myths.I have listened to a couple of Dawkin's books and overall agree with what he and his partner have to say. I found the introductory chapters did a good job of explaining how science views and explains what reality is and the differences between data and observational based reality versus myths and beliefs based on misunderstanding and outright distortions. The latter chapters become a bit repetitious.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Although Dawkins and Ward do an adequate job of narrating, I think that the narration would be better done by professionals. Normally I like it when authors read their works, but in this case I am not so sure.


    Was The Magic of Reality worth the listening time?

    Yes. I would recommend it to younger people who would want to better understand how science views reality.


    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
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