“The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True” by Richard Dawkins, illustrated by Dave McKean (Free Press, 2011)

The Magic of Reality
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Richard Dawkins, bestselling author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, needs little introduction; and neither does illustrator Dave McKean, who has worked with a number of well-known authors, including Neil Gaiman, and was the creator behind the movie MirrorMask.  Now the two have joined together to bring you a unique book of science and evolution called The Magic of Reality.

In the first chapter of The Magic of Reality, Richard Dawkins sets the stage with an important explanation of the differences between reality and how incredible it can be, and the impressiveness of magic and miracles and how they are just illusions and not real.  The book explores a number of astonishing things about our world and universe, and how we have come to know it, such as: who the first person was, what things are made of, what is the sun, what is a rainbow, and what is an earthquake, to name a few.  The last two chapters are perhaps the most important, as Dawkins talks about why bad things happen to people, and what exactly a miracle is.

The Magic of Reality is an important read for anyone who is uncertain about the world we live and how it came to be the way it is.  Dawkins puts thoughts and sayings, extreme coincidences, good and bad luck in perspective, saying you may think it an incredible series of incidents to lead to a specific point that it may seem like there is some power or force behind it, but when you study each of those incidents on a scientific level, it all makes perfect sense to be just that: an incredible coincidence.  Coupled with Dave McKean’s captivating and mind-blowing illustrations to help illustrate points and reveal the complexity of seemingly ordinary things, The Magic of Reality is an important book to have, whether you’re looking to help an adult make up their minds about something, or constructively and efficiently educating a youngster who is learning about science and the way of life.

Originally written on November 20, 2011 ©Alex C. Telander.

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“The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution” by Richard Dawkins (Free Press, 2009)

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Richard Dawkins has written a number of books, and most of those have been on the subject of evolution and its irrefutable reality.  So with the release of The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, readers – whether they are fans of Dawkins or not – may think: “What?  Another book on evolution?  Haven’t you said everything you’ve needed to say?”  But The Greatest Show on Earth is different; unlike most of Dawkins books that seek to teach and educate.  In this book, there is less of Dawkins revealing the absurdity of creationists and other fundamental religious groups seeking to cry out again the “theory” of evolution with the “truth” that the Earth is only four thousand years old (though there is certainly some, just less), Dawkins lets the facts and reality of nature, life, and the evidence speak for itself.

The book doesn’t employ a chronological, evolutionary history of life on the planet, but seeks more to reveal the linkages and combinations and symbiotic relationships in nature that are just there for us to see if we take the time to look and study them in detail.  Bursting with charts, illustrations, and photos, Dawkins just shows us the facts and lets the reader understand and accept, providing illustration and discussion where necessary to thoroughly convince.  Dawkins even makes the effort to link many of the chapters to personal stories and experiences in his life.

The Greatest Show on Earth is a book in which Dawkins puts less of himself into, as compared to his other books, but at the same time feels more of a personal work for him.  It is the triumph of nature and life in revealing its incredible complexity, development, and evolution over the billions of years that can only astound and awe readers; which is why having Dawkins along for the ride helps make the journey that much easier and more meaningful.

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Originally written on February 9th 2010 ©Alex C. Telander.