The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

by Richard Dawkins


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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 Earth.

"Intelligent Design" is being taught in our schools; educators are being asked to "teach the controversy" behind evolutionary theory. There is no controversy. Dawkins sifts through rich layers of scientific evidence—from living examples of natural selection to clues in the fossil record; from natural clocks that mark the vast epochs wherein evolution ran its course to the intricacies of developing embryos; from plate tectonics to molecular genetics—to make the airtight case that "we find ourselves perched on one tiny twig in the midst of a blossoming and flourishing tree of life and it is no accident, but the direct consequence of evolution by non-random selection." His unjaded passion for the natural world turns what might have been a negative argument, exposing the absurdities of the creationist position, into a positive offering to the reader: nothing less than a master’s vision of life, in all its splendor.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781416594796
Publisher: Free Press
Publication date: 08/24/2010
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 186,931
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is a Fellow of the Royal Society and was the inaugural holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. He is the acclaimed author of many books including The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor’s Tale, The God Delusion, and The Greatest Show on Earth. Visit him at

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The Greatest Show on Earth

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    The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 266 reviews.
    Generalreader More than 1 year ago
    It's about time for Dawkins to write a general account of evolution. He is one of the best science writers ever, marrying great knowledge and deep passion. Even those who know the basics will be enthralled. For those who don't know, and who have never read a book by Dawkins, they have a great treat in store. And for those who think science is a cold, unfeeling enterprise, well, they are about to learn the truth.
    Vp3 More than 1 year ago
    As far as books that try to teach evolution go, most lack the ability to engage and entertain the reader as well as The Greatest Show on Earth. This is nothing less than a expertly organized and compelling adventure that actually manages to grab you and make you want to keep reading much like a suspense novel would. More current than 'What Evolution Is' by Ernst Mayr and more comprehensive than 'Why Evolution is True' by Jerry A. Coyne. For anyone that is curious about the thoery of evolution or just a fan of Richard Dawkins I highly reccommend you pick this up.
    Marcus_Ar More than 1 year ago
    I have read several books by Richard Dawkins. I very much appreciate how he promotes critical thinking and brings evolutionary biology to a wider audience. The rejection of many people of evolution is something which is damaging the prestige and science education in the United States and this book is effective at healing that wound. This book is not as technical as some others he authored but does give an excellent overall view of the overwhelming evidence for evolution. For those worried that the book is promoting atheism, I was Christian before I read the book and remain a Christian now.
    Zack-Z More than 1 year ago
    I have read a few of his other books. This book brings out new information and is presented in a way that will make you think "that's it!" It puts it all together for a student of Dawkins and evolution. It is a must read and clarifies to the casual observer why the intelligent designers have no cause. The book again, is one that I couldn't put down. I look forward to his next study.
    kendall94 More than 1 year ago
    This book not only is about Evolution, it actually gives examples of scientific projects that prove by replication, using actual organisms with short generation spans, how organisms evolved, e.g, 45,000 generations of bacteria which equals the generations of humans for 1,000,000 years. The text is accompanied by illustrations (in color)of pictures of physical specimens, with the exception of the Painting "The Earthly Paradise" by Jan Brueghel the Elder. Each "creationist" belief is proved to be in error especially about the age of th Earth. All the scientific methods used to "date" the age of fossils and other specimens are explained, including nine "elements" used for dating back as far as 49 Billon years as well as the element most familiar to most of us, carbon 14 (dateing).
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A great read and very authoritative. Perhaps not the best on the subject I've read recently but far more than is needed to combat any of the prominent creationists of today.
    DavidSchwartz More than 1 year ago
    A good author knows what the public has already read and comes up with new arguments for his subject. Dawkins does so, wonderfully. He has so many new examples of "nonintelligent design" that he is very convincing. He is also very emotional, admitting to being choked up at the start of operations of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) and upset and perplexed at the high numbers of people in both the US and England that don't accept evolution at this late date. He is also emotional at the grandeur of nature in general. You don't often get these things in a book about science. At the same time, he proves his case that evolution is indeed "The Greatest Show on Earth" with well-thought-out examples from today and eons ago, from highly-developed animals to one-celled ones. This is also that rarest of scientific books -- a page-turner that makes you anxious to find out what will happen on the next page.
    Omega5001x More than 1 year ago
    This is a book that everyone should read. In fact, it should be required summer reading for high-schoolers entering biology. I think very highly of Richard Dawkins both as a scientist/educator and also as a writer. All of his books that I've read have been challenging but a pleasure to read. One can learn so much from his books. This book in particular gives such good explanations of not just how evolution works but how we know. I think the "how we know" element included in scientific writing puts it leaps and bounds ahead of other books that just give you a bunch of interesting facts. After reading this book, you come away armed with an amazing story AND clear supporting details that show the story's reality. Again, everyone should read it.
    nybruce More than 1 year ago
    Dawkins doesn't cover much in the way of new information, but that isn't his point. Each chapter takes on one aspect of creationist mythology and debunks it with real science. A must read for science teachers and anyone who is appalled by the level of scientific ignorance in this country.
    jrcasey1960 More than 1 year ago
    From one of the world's leading Darwinian biologists comes this wonderful summary of the evidence for the theory of evolution. With his usual clarity, frankness, and wit, Dr. Dawkins shines yet again. Should be required reading for any thoughtful person and humanist.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    This book is a well written explanation of why evolution is a fact.  Dawkins tells about evidences of evolution including dating techniques and how they work, genetics, bacterial evolution, human evolution, the evolution of dogs, and has fascinating research that he summarizes. Definitely glad I read this book it has really left me feeling a lot more knowledgeable about how exactly evolution works.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Whoever disagrees with evoluton must nut understand the theory and/or genetics. Also evolution does not account nor did it ever account for the origin of life. It is about the diversity of life, hints the name "Origin of Species". Evolution is a theory so simple and easy to understand but so beautiful at the same time. And despite what one reviewer has said, the vast majority of scientists are in agreement that evolution is completely accurate.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Well researched and well versed in the English language, Professor Richard Dawkins stands on the shoulders of giants to provide definitive evidence for Darwin's legacy
    scubasteve111 More than 1 year ago
    It has some difficult vocabulary, but it's a good book if you are interested in evolution. I'd also recommend "Evolution for Dummies" if you're new to Evolutionary biology.
    Sara Dingel More than 1 year ago
    It explains evolution in the modern age beautifully. How DNA comes into play and why the missing link in fossils is irrealivant. He gives great analogies to support and explain these basic ideas of science.
    cherryteresa More than 1 year ago
    Dawkins did a great job of painting a visual picture in my head with his explanations. I was already a believer in the fact of evolution and studied it in school and had a good basic understanding. But this really helped me understand even more specific concepts. This, along with certain parts of The God Delusion, have really helped me to look at just about everything from an evolutionary viewpoint. It's really made me look at things differently and correctly. He's given me a deeper understanding. The photos that are in this book are also great.
    Bmohr More than 1 year ago
    My headline pretty much states it. From anyone whom is from mildly to very knowledgeable on evolution will love this. Very up-to-date.
    KYBoy More than 1 year ago
    Dawkins is a passionate writer and in earlier books I've read I thought his passion at times obscured his logic. Not this time. I have never read a better compilation of the evidence explaining why scientists embrace evolution. What's more, it is written in an accessible, even fun style with pages of colored photos to illustrate. It incorporates not only the evidence one normally thinks of, but whole branches of science I never considered as part of the evolutionary process - geography and plate tectonics for example. I learned a lot and I enjoyed learning it. This book should be a "must read" for every high school or college student.
    RunePsyche More than 1 year ago
    So am I. A simple, "Oh, I don't believe in evolution," is mind boggling. How on earth can you not? I'm not a scientist, but I love science and understand its importance. It can be like banging your head against a brick wall, but sometimes I can't help but question the doubters. "The Greatest Show On Earth" does a wonderful job of laying out the evidence in a clear, logical manner, with many, many examples of evolution. It's an interesting read and I learned so much. People who are already well versed in evolutionary science may not find it as compelling, but it's great for the layman or novice.
    nycdbe More than 1 year ago
    incisively clear presentation of evolution
    FullyAlive More than 1 year ago
    Dawkins delivered! This book is beautifully written, comprehensive to any adult reader, and explains and show the evidence for evolution in a way no one else but Dawkins could. Dawkins' respect, awe, and love for life and its complexities are evident on every page. The pictures were amazing; when I brought this book to work to read on my lunch breaks, everyone passed it around to look at the fascinating photography. The detail he used in his explanations, making certain his book was understandable for his target audience, was astounding. He left no stone unturned. I hope that this book accomplishes what Dawkins was going for: to illustrate that evolution is the proven and ONLY explanation for the diversity of the greatest show on
    chessnut More than 1 year ago
    OUTSTANDING, well researched( as usual ) clear, intelligent, and ( gasp!) true. Read it, join the club and throw off the yoke of ancient fantasy.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    irisdovie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Excellent book which shows that evolution is a fact, not fiction, and not a theory. I will use arguments from this book to naysay people who spout creationism.
    cajela on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Lots of fun with popular science, covering several of the main lines of evidence for evolution. It's a nice commemoration of Darwin's centenary year. Dawkins writes very clear and readable prose. It's a very enjoyable read - and comes with some very cool colour picture inserts in this trade paperback edition.I'm oscillating between mildly amused and mildly annoyed by his humorously pedantic footnotes, and his love of coining new words. Memes, concestors, and this time it's theorums. erk.And if you do keep up with popular biological science, through science blogs or panda's thumb or the like, you won't really learn anything new. I suppose I'm not really the target audience, though. I'd definitely recommend it for newbies.