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Publisher's Summary

What are things made of? What is the sun? Why is there night and day, winter and summer? Why do bad things happen? Are we alone?

Throughout history people all over the world have invented stories to answer profound questions such as these. Have you heard the tale of how the sun hatched out of an emu’s egg? Or what about the great catfish that carries the world on its back? Has anyone ever told you that earthquakes are caused by a sneezing giant? These fantastical myths are fun – but what is the real answer to such questions?

The Magic of Reality, with its explanations of space, time, evolution and more, will inspire and amaze readers of all ages - young adults, adults, children, octogenarians. Teaming up with the renowned illustrator Dave McKean, Richard Dawkins answers all these questions and many more. In stunning words and pictures this book presents the real story of the world around us, taking us on an enthralling journey through scientific reality, and showing that it has an awe-inspiring beauty and thrilling magic which far exceed those of the ancient myths. We encounter rainbows, earthquakes, tsunamis, shooting stars, plants, animals, and an intriguing cast of characters in this extraordinary scientific voyage of discovery. Richard Dawkins and Dave McKean have created a dazzling celebration of our planet that will entertain and inform for years to come.

©2011 Richard Dawkins and Lalla Ward (P)2011 Random House Audiobooks

What members say

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  • richard
  • Norwich, United Kingdom
  • 05-22-12

Another wonderful book from Richard Dawkins

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would whole heartedly recommend this book and especially this audio version narrated by Richard and his wife, Lala.<br/>I am a biomedical scientist by profession so I thought the content, aimed as it is at 12 yr. olds and up, would be a bit basic. I was, however, pleasantly surprised at how much I learnt. Richard's beautiful prose style makes any book written by him a pleasure to read, but this book is especially charming and it keeps your attention eagerly fixed, as Richard and Lala demystify topic after topic with a sweeping coverage of the basics of science. <br/>Having listened now to several audio books I can honestly say that the effortless way that Richard and Lala read to you is a welcome exception to the rule, and leaves you wishing that they would read aloud all of the books in your audio library.

What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

The alternating voices of Richard and Lala worked very well and enabled me to listen for much longer in one session than I would normally.

Which scene was your favorite?

I thought that the way that Dawkins introduced each myth with its corollary explanation in several major religious texts, will do a lot to dispel the notion in children's heads that the Christian myths are in any way special or unique.

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

The insistence on following evidence to where it leads whether you like the result or not I thought was a truly important message for our children in these times of conspiracy theories and religious obscurantism.

Any additional comments?

Read it and then get your children to read it and maybe there will a future for us all.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Splendid and good for the brain

Compared to the Selfish Gene, this was much easier to understand and many simple examples are cite. Overall, this is a good book that in classic Dawkin's style raises some logical questions that anyone with a sense of logic and science would appreciate.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Catfish
  • CLAYTON, Australia
  • 09-10-12

Fun listen

What did you love best about The Magic of Reality?

Was a great laugh listening to Dawkins dryly explaining why fairy tales like "a pumpkin turning into a stage coach" cannot actually happen. But still had me thinking about some of these topics a bit more than I had to date.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Trevor
  • Marayong, New South Wales, Australia
  • 01-31-12

I can't say enough good things about this book.

The topic is close to my heart. The authors are favourites of mine. With the book being audible we were treated to hearing their own emotional attachment to the subject. I couldn't get enough and will be giving it a second run through very shortly. Highly recommended for anyone who loves reality and reason.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • iVan
  • Madrid
  • 12-11-17

nurtures your curiosity!

I like the style of this book, the story telling and myth buster style helps put the science behind reality into the context of our daily lives and break those silly asumptions we make about the nature of reality when we don't know better.

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  • Mark
  • Raglan, New Zealand
  • 11-12-17

Dawkins for Teens

This is a children’s book I guess, probably aimed at educated youngsters in their mid-teens, but I still found it very informative and enjoyable in my mid-50s. I’ve read so many Dawkins books now that it felt like a déjà vu jigsaw puzzle of little pieces from his other works, but I didn’t mind because I’m sort of addicted to his brilliant powers of reason and explanation, and I like the fact that he always narrates his own audiobooks.

This book is a very brief attempt at explaining life, the universe and everything; a concise version of Bill Bryson’s Short History of Nearly Everything, but with a definite Dawkinsian agenda and edge to it.

One, relatively innocent, aim of this book is to teach people the value of science and the use of reasoning to determine what is true, or real, and what is not. The other aim of this book is a bit more unusual; it is to emphasize that in all societies throughout human history people have created myths to explain natural phenomena such as the sun, earthquakes, rainbows, animals and humans. Nowadays, however, we have science to explain all this. Dawkins debunks a whole swath of creation myths from obscure tribes from around the World, knowing that his audience will have no problem in seeing that they are obviously just made-up nonsense - and then, without skipping a beat, he nonchalantly dismisses the central tenets of Judaism, Christianity and Islam as if they, too, are just far-fetched, fanciful fairy stories.

I’m perfectly happy with this, as I’m comfortable with the fact that there was no Adam and Eve, that God didn’t create the world in seven days, that Jesus wasn’t born of a Virgin, didn’t perform miracles, and may not have even existed. But there are lots of people who would find this book to be highly offensive atheist propaganda, an attempt to contaminate vulnerable young minds with heretical beliefs.

I don’t suppose we’ll be seeing this book in the school libraries of the Bible Belt any day soon, but, if you’re comfortable with religious skepticism, you’ll find it an enjoyable book.

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FANTASTIC!!

Absolutely loved this book. Richard has a way of explaining things in great detail without it be boring. Didn't want the book to end.

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  • Matthew
  • CANBERRA, Australia
  • 12-04-12

Instructive, but not condescending

Would you consider the audio edition of The Magic of Reality to be better than the print version?

I have not yet read the print version, so it's hard to say. I really enjoyed the narration by Dawkins and Ward, but I also feel that it would be good to own a copy of this book, given that it contains many illustrations that may help clarify some of the concepts.

What did you like best about this story?

Dawkins' 'thought experiments' (you'll see/hear!).

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It did what it set out to do, which was to make me feel astonished about "everyday events", such as rainbows, without attributing the phenomena to any kinds of supernatural causes.

Any additional comments?

If you're looking to learn more about the basic principles/explanations underlying the natural world, then this is a good place to start. Dawkins has a great ability to explain a concept so that the reader/listener can sufficiently understand it without him resorting to being condescending. Also, whenever he goes outside of his area of expertise, evolutionary biology, he emphasises this, thus the listener is assured that they are not being misled.

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  • sioux
  • durban, South Africa
  • 03-19-12

Magical Listen for all ages

The Magic of Reality is positioned as a book for children and teens, and compared to the complex biology of most of Dawkins' other books and the vehement arguments of The God Delusion, this is certainly his most accessible of books. But it would be a mistake to think this book is only for younger listeners. It is certainly accessible to them and includes a number of delightful anecdotes and analogies that take complicated ideas from the world of science and make them intelligible to all. But is remains entirely true to the complex laws of the natural world it is concerned with and thus is fascinating listening for all ages. I loved the way each chapter, which centres around a central question or concern, begins by looking at how humans in different eras and on different continents have tried to make sense of this issue. What is the sun? How has the sun been understood through the ages? What do we, with the benefit of modern science, understand the sun to be now? The scientific process is also masterfully explained. The narration is clear and enticing. This makes for a wonderful present for children and teens and, indeed, for adults.

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  • guilio
  • 12-23-12

Brilliant Book

A real book on time and space and reality and so easy to understand.

I love it. Well recemended.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr Kipling
  • 08-12-17

A great book for beginners to science

I purchased this audiobook after listening to the absolutely fantastic Dawkins book, The Selfish Gene. I would suggest that if you have read or listened to that book and had no trouble in understanding it's content then The Magic of Reality might be a little unstimulating.

The book is well written, but really serves to give a general explanation of fundamental ideas in science. The topics are generally discussed at quite a superficial level, but you usually come away from a chapter with a decent overview of the topic.

I'm sure that there will be something new in this book for most people, although far less for anyone who has shown an interest in science since leaving school. Each chapter begins with a scientific theory's mythical counterpart, detailing the different stories and myths which exist about, for example, rainbows or earthquakes. This at least was something new to me, and was a nice way to structure the book. At times it almost felt like a far less aggressive assault on people's beliefs than in his other book, The God Delusion, although it felt less like a deliberate attack and more a narrative tool.

In summary I think this would be a great book for the fledgling scientist to read, and also suitable for the critically minded among you, but I would suggest looking for something more in depth if you already have a comfortable understanding of the core sciences.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Prize Booker
  • 07-11-16

Great book for kids

Easy to understand and we'll narrated. Ideal for youngsters. Dawkins spells out how reality is more interesting than fiction.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • D.
  • 01-11-16

Another class act.

Finished the book in two days, as it's interesting. I debate this stuff with Christians over in America. This has armed me with information that's hard to defend.
Well put together, well set out, and go's back point by point.
Looking forward to more of the same after I've gone over again another two or three times. And looking forward to it.
Thank you mr Dawkins.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Adam G
  • 09-27-17

An artistic, tasteful and crystal clear insight into the real world we live in.

As always, Dawkins has managed to capture the true magic of some of the world's most misunderstood and mysterious phenomena in this delightfully refreshing take on reality.

I bought the hard back version a few years ago which is beautifully illustrated with vivid scenes by Dave McKean, and this audiobook has proved to be a welcome addition to what is already a wonderful creation.

Dawkins and Ward have particularly enjoyable voices in this well orchestrated duet, and I would highly recommend adding this item to your collection immediately.

Thank you and I look forward to more like this.

Adam

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr
  • 02-02-17

enjoyed it.

There was a lot of repetition of information I already know, as I'm a physicst. Having said that, it was still nice to have those recaps and then the links to mythology and religion etc. Presented as professionally as usual by Dawkins himself, which is nice, especially as he speaks so eloquently. it's a book for anyone, but I think those that will appreciate it the most, will be school pupils, those that are just discovering the likes of Dawkins and Harris etc and especially any religious people that Joe doubts about the myths they've been taught. it's and great first step to dropping the lies you've been taught.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • lexxie
  • 11-21-15

Excellent

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to adults and children alike

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Ben
  • 10-07-13

Not his best work

I really liked the authors other book "The God Delusion" and even though this book was presented in the same manor, it did seem rather simple. This could just be my personal perspective but nothing in this book was groundbreaking and I would not recommend it to the average person. Bordering of boring.

3 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • Mark
  • 12-23-12

Dry, lifeless a poor follow up, nothing new here!

I finished this book a few days before Christmas and I find myself compelled to write this review. Having read other books by Richard I had just about forgiven him his evangelical fanaticism and righteousness because his earlier books were interesting.



The Magic Of Reality? Nothing new to report here I am afraid. It is the same old argument backed up by well researched and quite frankly rather annoying scientific facts.



Why Richard and Lalla cannot see that what they are doing is no better than religion I don't understand. It is why I don't like humanism, or the way humanists portray what they stand for.



Nobody REALLY knows what is happening on Earth and in a Science is the new God world, let's not get lost on subtly making others wrong while following a pretence of inclusion of their views in the argument.



Reality is of course magical. But there is no VERY FACT about it.



As an argument against religion, this book makes a reasonable case.



As a pro life argument, this book is boring, depressing dry and somewhat lacking in love.



If you want the nuts and bolts of it then maybe this is for you.



My investigations in life go deeper.



I thank Richard and Lalla for shedding some light on the subject, but they really are the annoying Aunt and Uncle at a dinner party who appear to think they know everything in their delivery of this subject and frankly, it wasn't very entertaining.



I actually want to get involved in some real magic now, some mythology and ritual.



Having read several books I think I have come full circle and fancy being part of a religion with a few colourful characters.



Richard Dawkins Magic Of Reality was just one shade too grey for me!



Kind regards...

2 of 35 people found this review helpful

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  • Sam
  • 12-03-11

PATRONISING LOAD OF PATRONISING rubbish

Irritating book read as though it is for children (perhaps it is Dawkins simple and patronizing style is incredibly irritating for an adult with half a brain I would find this insulting even if I was a child it would irritate me!
he fails to communicate the magic of science chop it up Dawkins bombs out

2 of 54 people found this review helpful

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  • Philip
  • 05-06-16

Do you believe in miracles? Then this is for you.

At times a little slow but at other times extremely interesting. I didn't enjoy as much as other Dawkins material, but would be great for someone new to his works. He is fantastically patient at making a point in such away you can't get the wrong idea!

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  • Adrian
  • 12-15-15

Exceptional

Highly informative, concepts were masterfully explained, honest, humorous, tantalizingly addictive, I wish it didn't end!

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  • mjswan2
  • 04-22-15

Loved it!

Exactly what you expect from a highly skilled biologist who is equally proficient in the areas of written and verbal communication. Highly recommended.