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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  42,278 ratings  ·  1,759 reviews
Charles Darwin’s masterpiece, On the Origin of Species, shook society to its core on publication in 1859. Darwin was only too aware of the storm his theory of evolution would provoke but he would surely 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 inde ...more
Hardcover, 470 pages
Published September 10th 2009 by Bantam Press (first published 2009)
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David Winlo I haven't read this book, but having read two others by Dawkins, I'd say it could well help your understanding, and probably also make the whole thing…moreI haven't read this book, but having read two others by Dawkins, I'd say it could well help your understanding, and probably also make the whole thing more interesting, even if you already have an interest.(less)

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Oct 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To any Young Earth Creationist who happens to be reading this review

First, thank you for getting this far. It's to your credit: you're willing to find out something about what the other side has to say. You're probably expecting I'll tell you to read Dawkins's latest book. In fact, I'm not going to do that.

Don't read this book. Dawkins is disrespectful and arrogant about Young Earth Creationism, and he will only annoy you. Instead, I suggest that you might want to look at Charles Darwin's On th
Apr 06, 2010 rated it really liked it
There's a general feeling out there about Richard Dawkins that he's a little too shrill, a little too hard on people, and perhaps a tad too full of himself. I've had a couple of these thoughts from time to time, though not the last one, and would almost catch myself nodding in agreement until I put myself in the man's shoes. Professor Dawkins is brilliant with a capital B. He is fanatically devoted to science and his particular subject, evolutionary biology. He has spent his life researching and ...more
Nov 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
Two disclaimers before I begin my review:

1. I am an atheist.
2. I am a molecular biologist.

So, I am clearly not the target audience. That being said, I really wanted to like this book. I am so happy that there are people out there who are speaking out in defense of evolution and (although not in this book) atheism, and as such I want to support Richard Dawkins. However, the best way I can sum up my feelings about the book is to say that it resembles a very long version of an undergraduate's final
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
With the help of drawings, photos, cartoons, tables, diagrams & notes, an emphasis on extremely lucid step-by-step explanations, examples, iteration & reiteration & plenty of humor, R Dawkins shows that we are indeed so lucky to be witness to the Greatest Show on Earth -- this wonderful book is addressed not only to those interested in our natural world (and who'll maybe wish they'd majored in biology) but more particularly to the creationists and proponents of "intelligent design" - ...more
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Caroline by: Steve aka Sckenda
Shelves: science, 5-star-books
What a stunning read. I have read several books by Dawkins, mostly concerning evolution, and I think this was the easiest to understand. This is partly because I skipped the most difficult bits! For instance I am never going to know how carbon dating is done - but I can live with that. For the most part the book was hugely readable and deeply fascinating. The one thing that marred my pleasure slightly was the stress throughout on proving the theory of evolution to creationists, but then he would ...more
3.75 stars.
Felt a bit too technical for an un-science-y person like I. Nevertheless, 'twas bloody brilliant.
Have a few unresolved queries, guess I have to find answers, somewhere else...
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Richard Dawkins has taken his seat along with Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan as a great populist of science. In all of his science books and especially in The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence For Evolution, He has taken a complex subject and presented it with clarity to a population that usually gets lost in the seemingly foreign language of most scientists. Yet he does not "dumb down" neither. He has a gift for beautifully explaining difficult topics in a way a layman can understand. He sav ...more
Kris Madaus
Jan 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Wow! This is definitely one of those books that makes you look at the world a little differently after reading. Richard Dawkins writes so well on the subject. He is extremely thorough in his description of the fact of evolution, but he doesn't dumb down his explanations either. If you are interested in a particular subject, he often references places you can go to continue the story. He paints a beautiful picture of how evolution really works and why that helps you appreciate this amazing world

☙ percy ❧
Dec 29, 2017 marked it as physical-copy-tbr
*sharp inhale*

i'm religious. i'm a Catholic. and i'm not a creationist and i believe in evolution and i want to read this book because evolution is really interesting to me and i, too, want to take on Young Earth Creationists.

however, dawkins has a Most terrible habit of dissing not only creationists, but anyone who believes in God, and tarring us all with the same brush and just generally being that One Specific Sort of Atheist who is very arrogant and thinks that all religious people are stup
Jan 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Dawkins arguments for evolution are elegant and, in some cases, simply breath-taking. As a psychology professor myself, and as one who has had to contend with "history deniers" for years, I especially liked his description of Lenski's research on the evolution of bacteria. Although facts have always been denied by those who claim Intelligent Design as a valid explanation for all nature, Dawkins painstakingly and elegantly lays out unassailable facts in support of the theory of evolution. He stak ...more
Tag Riggs
Feb 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
After reading this book, I quickly realized that it was targeted for a particular audience--the choir complete with holy robes and clapping hands shouting, "...Preach it brother Dawkins, preach it my brother, Evolution AMEN!, Hallelujah!" I honestly think that it is required that you be a Dawkinite and part of the Dawkins Tabernacle Choir in order for you to take this book seriously.

I was fully expecting some kind of scientific treatise yet it ended up being like a bunch of guys on the dock lau
Kat Kennedy
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A really well written, interesting, logical discussion on evolution. I quite enjoyed this book.
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: british, science
Most of what Dawkins explains in this book was not yet known when I went to school.
My jaw was dropping several times during this most pleasurable trip through the physical evidence of evolution.
In 4 billion years we went from a single cell to a fully developed human, and now each of us has repreated it in the 9 months we are in the womb of our mother. The wonder of epigenisis without a blueprint!

But the funniest part in it was his quote of Monty Pythons 'All things dull and ugly':
All things dul
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Richard Dawkins has crafted a masterpiece dedicated to explaining evolution in a way that the layman can understand, providing excellent examples of evidence from fossil evidence to observable evidence, genetic evidence, and so on. My personal favorite chapter was on the geographic distribution of animals and speciation. It is really like an extraordinary puzzle that fits together so beautifully. Richard Dawkins uses the detective analogy to describe the study of evolution. And I can't think of ...more
I wish I'd had engaging and interesting texts like this to read when I had to take science classes in high school. I always wanted to like science so much, but I always got bogged down in minutae, in questions the text or teachers didn't address, and in the boredom of rote memorization. This book really made me like biology. Not only does it explain concepts in an intelligent and cohesive way, it has pictures! Color pictures, even. Much like the ones I stared at in biology or earth science inste ...more
Oh, Dawkins. Tell me more of evolution, please. Speak to me of genes and their ways. Teach me things about the world. I could read this stuff for hours. I am endlessly fascinated and the more I understand of evolution, the more I am aware of how unbelievably lucky I am that I exist, that anything exists, that I can learn about it.
Dec 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So, I admire Dawkins as both a scientist and a writer. His passion for science and the endless search for truth is infectious and his talent for writing magnificent prose is noteable.

I had the pleasure to go see him speak at the Center for Inquiry in D.C., and also got to mingle with him before the show (a fun story for sure). Needless to say, he was amazing.

I know some people think he is an angry atheist, but I think they are missing the point, and he does a great job of making his point at th
David S. T.
Apr 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
This isn't the best introductory book I've read on evolution, Dawkins loves to insult the people who don't hold his views, goes way to far sometimes to get his point across and has a tendency to ramble on and mention interesting but irrelevant stuff. Once you get past the flaws this actually is a pretty good book, oddly by the end some of those qualities I hated about the book in the beginning, I started to appreciate more in the end (I kind of enjoy the almost pointless side stories and facts). ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Richard Dawkins is, from my point of view, a fairly unpleasant man even when I agree with him. He sets out to make this book an explanation of how evolution works (but for that, I would go with Coyne’s Why Evolution is True), and why it is the correct explanation for various phenomena we can observe around us. It’s not as bad as The God Delusion for anti-theist statements, though there are a few speckled in there, and he makes a fairly good line of argument.

Of course, since I think evolution is
Mohamed al-Jamri
For those looking for evidence supporting evolution, either because they themselves doubt it or want more evidences to argue for it, these two books can do the job extremely well.

I bet the vast majority if not all of those who read "The Greatest Show on Earth" & "Why Evolution is True" with an open mind and understand them, will regard evolution as true and be able to argue in its favor strongly.

Both authors maintain that evolution is compatible with #religion although they do not elaborate
Shawn Deal
Mar 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Another great book by Richard Dawkins. This is a wonderful book that richly describes, in immense details, the wonder that is evolution. Here is a book that really shows the awe of science, and nature and how the world has become the great cornucopia of life that it has become.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-sci-fi
"We are surrounded by endless forms, most beautiful and most wonderful, and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random natural selection – the only game in town, the greatest show on Earth."
I remember reading about Richard Dawkins a few years ago and (mistakenly) he seemed arrogant and cynical. I kept delaying reading his books and the loss was mine. For beneath that thin veneer or cynicism, lies a man deeply in love with science and fellow human-beings. BTW, this w
Marius Masalar
This is a challenging book to assess. My first question, upon finishing it, is "who is this for?"

The science is too involved for a scientifically illiterate fundamentalist creationist audience, the sardonic tone likewise off-putting to them, and the atheists like me who share his broad perspective hardly need a hand-held walk through the garden of nature's wonders and weirdnesses.

Then again, maybe we do: it should be emphasised that this book makes for a fantastic full spectrum look at the subje
Kevin Shepherd
I can not emphasize enough how much I admire and respect Richard Dawkins. His books are veritable university courses on biology, anthropology and natural history, this one is no exception. If there's a knock on The Greatest Show On Earth, it's that you cannot read it when you're tired or sleepy. Richard is so passionate about his vocation that he sometimes forgets that some of us don't have his stamina, much less his vocabulary.

Dawson excels at anticipating counter arguments, probably because he
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science, favorites
Evolution is one of my favourite subjects, and it saddens me how many people refuse to see the beauty of it, let alone give it a chance. I've never been one to push my opinions on others, and I consider myself an open minded person, but I feel that people don't believe in evolution, simply because they don't want to believe in it.

However, I am happy to say that once again Richard Dawkins has presented the unifying theory of evolution convincingly. Unfortunately, the only people that would be
M.G. Mason
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dawkins latest book finally tackles creationism in a not-so-head-on collision. Always vowing to never answer a challenge directly, Dawkins does it in the best way he possibly could, by demonstrating why evolution is true.

He seemingly leaves no stone uncovered in the challenge, often tackling direct claims made by creationists and demonstrating why they are false. He also covers how speciation has been observed and the whole "show me your transitional fossils" non-argument is handled masterfully.
Steven Peterson
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Bookmarks begins its review of this book by saying: "'Like a detective reconstructing a crime' (San Francisco Chronicle), Dawkins amasses a mountain of evidence in this richly illustrated, enormously readable explanation of the theory of evolution." This book is Dawkins' effort to lay out the evidence for evolution. His target is the "intelligent design" approach to explaining why species end up as they are--explicitly rejecting Darwinian evolutionary theory.

The book features many fascinating ex
Saleh MoonWalker
Jun 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: atheism, science
در این اثر عالی از داوکینز، ایشون ابتدا از افرادی که طراحی هوشمندانه رو قبول دارن و خلقت گرا هستن راجع به فرگشت و شواهد اون سوال می پرسه و بعد از اینکه اونها از دادن جواب به ایشون باز موندن، حقایق علمی رو بازگو میکنه و نشون میده که فرگشت به عنوان یک حقیقت علمی توسط دانشمندان و افراد هوشمند پذیرفته شده اما متاسفانه همچنان افرادی هستن که فرگشت رو تئوری میدونن. با بررسی فسیل های بدست اومده از پرندگان و همچنین اجداد ما، بررسی زمانی مربوط به اونها، و شواهد فرگشت اونها که توسط بیولوژی مولکولی و ژنتیک ...more
Mar 20, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am almost sad to finish this excellent book, my fifth of Dawkins'. It ranks right up there with Climbing Mount Improbable and River out of Eden. Dawkins writes beautifully, especially for a scientist, with a combination of erudition and wit. I have a fairly strong background in science, but I don't think that this book would be too much of a slog for the intelligent humanities-based reader. The book's subtitle is The Evidence for Evolution, and the case he makes is cogent and convincing (altho ...more
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evolution : The only game in town, the greatest show on earth.
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Update some present science concepts... 2 100 Oct 09, 2012 10:05AM  
  • Why Evolution Is True
  • Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea
  • The Counter-Creationism Handbook
  • What Evolution Is
  • Your Inner Fish: A Journey Into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
  • Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life
  • Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul
  • Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives
  • The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values
  • Atom: An Odyssey from the Big Bang to Life on Earth...and Beyond
  • The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us
  • The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
  • Trilobite: Eyewitness to Evolution
  • Bully for Brontosaurus: Reflections in Natural History
“Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order. Evolution has passed this test with flying colours.” 145 likes
“Why would an all-powerful creator decide to plant his carefully crafted species on islands and continents in exactly the appropriate pattern to suggest, irresistibly, that they had evolved and dispersed from the site of their evolution?” 95 likes
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