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The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  50,326 ratings  ·  1,947 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
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Ziad I had no doubts about the truth of evolution before I read the book, and I still read the whole thing and enjoyed it. You'll have to be a bit patient …moreI had no doubts about the truth of evolution before I read the book, and I still read the whole thing and enjoyed it. You'll have to be a bit patient in certain parts of it if you find yourself reading about science that you understand and agree with. The book goes beyond the science of evolution. Using science and logic, Dawkins shuts the door on every creationist thought in style. Brilliant piece of work. (less)
torin_kylara Yes, there is definitely religion bashing. It's strange though, because at times he seems to think all religion is silly and useless, and at other he …moreYes, there is definitely religion bashing. It's strange though, because at times he seems to think all religion is silly and useless, and at other he praises bishops who have stood with him to say that evolution is true. So he must not absolutely dismiss everyone who is religious, it just sometimes seems so from his tone? You'll have to read the book to see what you think, but if you are religious at all (even if you agree with evolution), you will probably be offended at some point in the book. (I was offended for religious people at a couple of points and I'm an athiest--one of those peace-loving, we should all get along ones, though.) :P(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
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.

Dawkins excels at anticipating counter arguments, probably because h
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" -- as evidenc ...more
Dec 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An educational masterpiece of popular science, this is a brilliant, riveting page-turner written with eloquence, passion and competence.
I am almost embarrassed to admit that I waited until now to read this shining book, which comprises so many themes in disparate but related areas in the realms of biology, anthropology, natural history, molecular chemistry and, of course, evolution theory.

I am at a real loss to express how rewarding this reading experience has proved to be: after only 10% of the
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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...
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

☙ nemo ❧ (pagesandprozac)
Dec 29, 2017 marked it as put-down-for-now
*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
Oct 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Kat Kennedy
Sep 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A really well written, interesting, logical discussion on evolution. I quite enjoyed this book.
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
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 on t
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.
Bruce Hatton
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science
Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is one of those rare scientists who is capable of addressing his specific area of science to the layperson (and I certainly am such – biology wasn’t even on the syllabus at my school) in a lucid and enlightening manner without ever having to “dumb down”. His unwavering enthusiasm for the subject is evident throughout, as is his often wicked sense of humour.
This certainly isn’t a book one can rush through. However, I found a careful study revealed many of th
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was written to inform those who believe in evolution how to counter the arguments of those who don't. It hasn't been worth the effort in my experience. Young Earth Creationists (YEC) who believe that the world is only as old as their version of their bible tells them it is (The term apparently applies to people in all branches of the Abrahamic religions plus a few others.) are so dedicated to their intentional ignorance that changing their minds is impossible. They have THE ANSWER & it does ...more
Mar 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, non-fiction
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
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
A.L. Buehrer
May 08, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have to see both sides. I’m really not content to only read what reconfirms what I already believe. Even if I doubt that anything could change my mind on a subject (sometimes facts are facts) I want to be able to see what the other person sees and understand how they think.

I was in this objective sportsmanly mood when I picked this book up. By the end of chapter one I was struggling to maintain that attitude. Why? Because Dawkins has absolutely no interest in playing fair. I like to think t
A Man Called Ove
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
Oct 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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