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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

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4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  36,418 Ratings  ·  1,602 Reviews
Richard Dawkins transformed our view of God in his blockbuster, The God Delusion, which sold more than 2 million copies in English alone. He revolutionized the way we see natural selection in the seminal bestseller The Selfish Gene. Now, he launches a fierce counterattack against proponents of "Intelligent Design" in his New York Times bestseller, The Greatest Show on Eart ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Free 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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Community Reviews

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Manny
Oct 09, 2013 Manny 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
...more
A.J.
Apr 06, 2010 A.J. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 04, 2009 diana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Maria
Jul 09, 2011 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Caroline
Sep 14, 2013 Caroline rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Steve aka Sckenda
Shelves: 5-star-books, science
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
Marvin
Aug 11, 2009 Marvin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 Kris Madaus 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

...more
Catie
Jan 13, 2010 Catie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
...more
Kat Kennedy
A really well written, interesting, logical discussion on evolution. I quite enjoyed this book.
Rahman
The greatest show on earth, indeed.

Dawkins may be an annoying, islamphobic/religiophobic, sexist prick, but there's no denying that he's a brilliant scientist.

Evolution is a scientific fact. The evidence supporting it is just so overwhelming for it to be otherwise. From fossils (we've got transitional fossils, like Tiktaalik roseae , and Homo erectus ), to evolutionary leftovers (in humans, for instance, there are the appendix, wisdom teeth, and goose bumps, to name a few), and most recently
...more
Des
Oct 06, 2009 Des rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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
David S. T.
Apr 14, 2011 David S. T. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2011, 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
Nikki
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
...more
Cherie
Jun 03, 2013 Cherie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ana  Vlădescu
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.
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
...more
Charbel
Oct 01, 2013 Charbel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, science
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
...more
M.G. Mason
Aug 08, 2011 M.G. Mason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Steven Peterson
Dec 04, 2011 Steven Peterson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Merilee
Mar 20, 2010 Merilee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
emile
Jan 05, 2015 emile rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evolution : The only game in town, the greatest show on earth.
Book
Jun 24, 2011 Book rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: evolution
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
Scott
Nov 12, 2009 Scott rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, science, non-fiction
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
...more
Terry
Mar 23, 2010 Terry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
David
Dec 06, 2009 David rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful book! I've enjoyed several other books by Richard Dawkins, and this is his best. The chapter named "History Written All Over Us" could have been called, "Unintelligent Design". It is just one of many arguments, why evolution is a proven theory.

Dawkins makes a point that a good scientific theory must be falsibiable. That means, that if certain evidence were ever collected, or observations made, then one must conclude that the theory is false. He describes how if fossils were eve
...more
Alicja
rating: 5/5

It was sometimes a tough read but it presents the evidence for evolution in a clear and concise manner that is accessible to non-biologists. Although, I did have to google search some concepts because I didn't remember enough biology 101 foundations from undergrad (the embryology chapter killed me! but thankfully I've revived since).

So, if you are evolution theory ignorant (because what I remember from high school and basic bio in college has pretty much left my brain by now), this i
...more
Cassandra Kay Silva
Oct 21, 2010 Cassandra Kay Silva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
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
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Update some present science concepts... 2 99 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

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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.” 143 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?” 92 likes
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