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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

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4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  29,173 ratings  ·  1,327 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Manny
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
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A.J.
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
diana
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
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Maria
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
Marvin
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

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

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Catie
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
Des
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
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Tag Riggs
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
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Megan
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
Kat Kennedy
A really well written, interesting, logical discussion on evolution. I quite enjoyed this book.
Tyler Franklin
Clearly, this is a love story. Dawkin's passion for his subject is contagious. It is the locus of his expertise, the focus of his joy. He can't help himself at times, asking the reader's forgiveness and veering off-task to mention some obscure fact that blossoms into its own microchapter or multi-page footnote. And it is all really quite fascinating.

Many despise Dawkins. He's one of those guys people love to hate. In my experience, religious persons of any stripe collectively agree that his is a
...more
David S. T.
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
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
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Steven Peterson
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
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M.G. Mason
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.
...more
Merilee
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
James
In the present spirit of literary descendent-drawing, allow me to assure you that, in its wordplay, erudite references, and plethora of pleasingly flagrant diversions, Dawkins' book is tantalizingly close to the kind of volume on evolutionary biology that we'd expect from Tristram himself, had Tristram been a different person in so many ways as to make the comparison completely meaningless.
Terry
Ironically a book on evolution would be a chimera of textbook, polemic, and panegyric it does none of those things particularly well. Too informal to be authoritative and too casual to be something one could refer someone to this book fits into the wide middle of Dawkins book which are summed up as "nice but someone else has done it better".

Dawkins' books seem to grow out a nagging urge to yell something at the world and "the point" is poorly spread across sprawling chapters that reference acros
...more
Scott
This book does a decent job of explaning evolution, though I have two criticisms:

First, the format suffers organizationally. The book is written as a rebuttal to creationist arguments, but Dawkins addresses those arguments by interspersing them, in no coherent order, within affirmative evidence for evolution. A bettter way to format the book would have been to model it after a good legal brief. Present the affirmative case for evolution first, then address creationist counterarguments second.

S
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Book
The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins

The Greatest Show on Earth is another solid book in a series of books by Richard Dawkins. This book has to do with the evidence in support of evolution. The book is composed of the following thirteen chapters: 1.Only a theory? 2. Dogs, cows and cabbages, 3.The primrose path to macro-evolution, 4.Silence and slow time, 5.Before our very eyes, 6.Missing link? What do you mean `missing'? 7. Missing persons? Missing no longer, 8. You did it yourself in n
...more
Emily
Richard Dawkins has set out to challenge Creationists with his new book "The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution." As someone who was taught evolution by one of the most hardcore nuns in my Catholic school, I've always found Creationism somewhat baffling. Isn't "faith" believing in spite of evidence? Not pretending the evidence doesn't exist?

In my personal canon, I rather like the idea that the "clay" God made Adam out of in the Bible is actually RNA. All live evolved from this,
...more
Cherie
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
Cassandra Kay Silva
It hardly needs to be stated that I am a generous rater in the first place. I love Dawkins but sometimes his literary skills need to be checked a bit. I feel on occasion that he rushes to publish before fully forming some of his ideas. On the other hand great experiments in this book! The E-coli 20 year extraveganza blew my mind. I would not have likely stubled across this information without having read this book. So for at least that information I have to say I was pleased with the book. I als ...more
emile
Evolution : The only game in town, the greatest show on earth.
Gabriel
So this is Dawkins presenting evidence for evolution.

Richard Dawkins is a very well-known and outspoken person so, before reading the book I kinda knew what to expect already. He pulls no punches in criticizing and even ridicularizing creationists; but coming from him, what would one expect?

This is a man that publicly states that, parafrasing: "Religious people make specific claims about the universe and should be criticized and ridiculed, with contempt!"

So there you go, he does not refrain from
...more
Sandra
This is an important book, chock-full of wonderful information, and beautifully crafted arguments to quash purveyors of creationism and intelligent design. It left me immensely depressed because, of course, Dawkins is preaching to the choir here. Said purveyors of creationism and intelligent design will not read this book, nor will they let you try to explain it to them. According to Dawkins, 44% of Americans believe God created human beings pretty much in their present form sometime during the ...more
Ashley
Scientists accept evolution because there is so much evidence for evolution and none found yet that refutes it. But what IS that evidence? I knew so little of that evidence before I read this book. This book was much needed because it thoroughly explains the evidence for evolution coming from a variety of scientific areas: zoology, geography, geology, genetics, natural history, etc. Further, it does so in a way that was easy for me to understand (for the most part...more on that a bit later). I ...more
Jamie Franklin
Jan 20, 2013 Jamie Franklin rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Almost no one
It's hard to put into words how unlikable and transparently arrogant a man is Richard Dawkins. So arrogant and pompous is he that he writes a book of almost 500 pages on the topic of 'The Evidence for Evolution' and, instead of providing us with the juicily promised evidence, what he actually provides is a series of self-congratulatory anecdotes, endless digressions into irrelevant subject areas in order to show off his scientific erudition, and asides to his Z-grade celebrity atheist zero frien ...more
Amanda
Approaching this with an education (albeit only just over half an undergrad degree for now) in evolutionary biology was a rather different experience, I would imagine, than approaching it with minimal knowledge of the subject matter. As it stands, I liked the book; I thought it was well put together and used some really classic as well as some really new and exciting examples of experiments that have been done and discoveries that have shaped our current understanding of evolution. But I also ha ...more
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Monkeys = Gentiles 2 26 Jan 02, 2015 08:03AM  
Dawkins Is A Preacher & Novelist, Not A Scientist 7 103 Aug 07, 2014 01:36AM  
Update some present science concepts... 2 95 Oct 09, 2012 10:05AM  
  • Why Evolution Is True
  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
  • Why Darwin Matters: The Case Against Intelligent Design
  • Your Inner Fish: A Journey into the 3.5-Billion-Year History of the Human Body
  • Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
  • Evolution: What the Fossils Say and Why It Matters
  • Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
  • God: The Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist
  • The Counter-Creationism Handbook
  • Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul
  • Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes: Further Reflections in Natural History
  • Death from the Skies!: These Are the Ways the World Will End...
  • At the Water's Edge: Fish with Fingers, Whales with Legs, and How Life Came Ashore but Then Went Back to Sea
  • The Diversity of Life
  • Life: A Natural History of the First Four Billion Years of Life on Earth
  • Nature Via Nurture: Genes, Experience and What Makes Us Human
  • Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives
  • The Portable Atheist: Essential Readings for the Nonbeliever
The God Delusion The Selfish Gene The Blind Watchmaker: Why the Evidence of Evolution Reveals a Universe Without Design The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution The Magic of Reality: How We Know What's Really True

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“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.” 117 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?” 80 likes
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