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Publisher's Summary

In 2008, a Gallup poll showed that 44 percent of Americans believed God had created man in his present form within the last 10,000 years. In a Pew Forum poll in the same year, 42 percent believed that all life on earth has existed in its present form since the beginning of time.

In 1859 Charles Darwin's masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, shook society to its core. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke. But he surely would have raised an incredulous eyebrow at the controversy still raging a century and a half later.

Evolution is accepted as scientific fact by all reputable scientists and indeed theologians, yet millions of people continue to question its veracity. Now the author of the iconic work The God Delusion takes them to task.

The Greatest Show on Earth is a stunning counterattack on advocates of "Intelligent Design", explaining the evidence for evolution while exposing the absurdities of the creationist "argument". Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence: from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics. Combining these elements and many more, he makes the airtight case that "we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection."

The Greatest Show on Earth comes at a critical time: systematic opposition to the fact of evolution is menacing as never before. In American schools, and in schools around the world, insidious attempts are made to undermine the status of science in the classroom. Dawkins wields a devastating argument against this ignorance, but his unjaded passion for the natural world turns what might have been a negative argument into a positive offering to the reader: nothing less than a master's vision of life, in all its splendor.

©2009 Richard Dawkins; (P)2009 Simon & Schuster

Critic Reviews

"If Charles Darwin walked into a 21st-century bookstore and wanted to know how his theory had fared, this is the book he should pick up. Dawkins remains a superb translator of complex scientific concepts....he has a way of making the drollest details feel like a revelation." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • Overall

Excellent book

An excellent book describing the facts of evolution. The narration was excellent. I will listen to this one more time to let it sync better. All religious fanatics should read this book and learn about facts of life and reality of nature.

Being an astrophysics and theoretical physics fan, this book answered my questions of where we come from and for what purpose we are here, it's an answer that an individual has to find it for him/herself. I found mine.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Read and written with passion

Richard Dawkins never disappoints in the pure readability (or in this case, listenability) of his works. Through that readability, you're able to learn immense amounts because he's so good at presenting science and facts. Additionally, he will always point out when a particular theory or idea is not part of the current consensus (even his own ideas) or has not been otherwise proven in some way.

As will probably be pointed out in other reviews, it's doubtful that this book will really "convert" anyone to evolution. But in the same way that God Delusion was able to give the final nudge to those on the fence about religion, I suspect this book will have that same effect for those that perhaps still see Intelligent Design as somehow viable. Die-hard Creationists aren't going to read this and certainly won't accept the evidence he presents.

All in all, very very enjoyable and read wonderfully by Dawkins himself and his wife.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Gary
  • Las Cruces, NM, United States
  • 05-27-12

Spirtual book

The more I learn about the development of life and humans on earth the more spiritual I become because the more special it makes me feel. For all the events to have happened to have put us here after a 100 million centuries and to have awoken up in this special time and place it makes me feel blessed. Dawkins explains these probable events and processes better than anyone. Understanding the path that life had to take to bring us here makes me feel special. Usually, I don't like it when an author reads his own works but I like it when Dawkins does. I listen to all of Dawkins' books and he doesn't repeat his analogies in his explanations and manages to come up with new and better analogies and explanations. (I would recommend listening to "The Selfish Gene" before this one only because both books are so good that you'll end up listening to both and you might as well read them in that more logical order).

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Daniel
  • United States
  • 06-24-10

An interesing read.

While I found the information in this book quite interesting, the writing style does not spark imagination as well as some other science writers, such as Hawking. In fact, the first part of the book was not great. The second half, however was really interesting. I mean, really interesting. I won't leak what each section is about, so as not to spoil this book for those who purchase. But for me, I give the first half 3 stars and the second half 5 stars. Overall, a good purchase.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A refreshing look at reality.

The more I see of science, the more facinated I become. Dawkins has produced fantasict philosphical writing. This scientific writing is even more so.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rochelle
  • Mattoon, IL, United States
  • 11-27-09

Fabulous read; easy to understand.

This one is a winner! I have read several of Dawkins' books before, but listening to his voice (and the other reader, too) really helped me understand the ideas and examples he presented. We have done a poor job educating our student population on Evolution. This book explains everything in such simple and understandable detail! A must read for an educated person!

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent read

Very accessible, I recommend this for anyone wanting to help move someone along to the path of science and all it has to offer.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent introduction to evolution

Dawkins always impressed me with his logic, clarity of thought, and simple, understandable presentation. This book is par for the course. Excellent introduction to evolution for those who don't have much background in biology but genuinely want to learn.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Steven
  • San Francisco, CA, USA
  • 10-28-09

Interesting book and excellent readers

Dawkins lays out clearly and concisely the science behind evolution. Not only is the book interesting, Dawkins and his wife are also great readers as well. Excellent all-round.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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A disservice to the field of evolutionary sciences

What disappointed you about The Greatest Show on Earth?

Fascinating scientific discoveries and facts; filled to the brim with horrifyingly fallacious arguments. His hatred of people with differing points of view than him (especially creationists) was not only distracting, but led him to apply the worst logic I've ever heard anyone try to apply in a serious way: ad hominem, straw man, anecdotal, masked man, circular reasoning, equivocation, and pretty much every other fallacy you can think of. The field of evolutionary biology is diverse and filled with a vast number of differing points of view and Dawkins presented the evidence as if there was a single theory of evolution: his. Everyone who disagrees is not only wrong and stupid, but demented and wicked to the core (he really says this--countless times). He did a disservice to the field and to the thousands of evolutionary biologists doing real work collecting and analyzing data, compiling research, testing new and old theories. As a curious and eager to learn listener, I was not just disappointed, but angered by such a poor showing of logic, lack of objective scientific presentation, and just generally narrow view of the field. I expected better of him since he's so well known as an intellectual, but I cannot take him seriously after this book. So much for the spirit of science...

Any additional comments?

If you want an honest scientific presentation of contemporary evolutionary theories, this book is not for you.

If you want to rage against creationists and pretend Dawkins has finally come up with the one and only true and indisputable theory of evolution, have fun...

4 of 5 people found this review helpful