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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

Including conversations with Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Steven Pinker, Matt Ridley and more, this is an essential guide to the most exciting ideas of our time and their proponents from our most brilliant science communicator. This audio edition also includes Richard Dawkins in conversation with Christopher Hitchens, in what was to be Christopher Hitchens’s last interview before his death in 2011.

Books Do Furnish a Life is divided by theme, including celebrating nature, exploring humanity and interrogating faith. For the first time, it brings together Richard Dawkins's forewords, afterwords and introductions to the work of some of the leading thinkers of our age - Carl Sagan, Lawrence Krauss, Jacob Bronowski, Lewis Wolpert - with a selection of his reviews to provide an electrifying celebration of science writing, both fiction and non-fiction. It is also a sparkling addition to Dawkins's own remarkable canon of work.

©2021 Richard Dawkins (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Richard Dawkins is a thunderously gifted science writer." (Sunday Times

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Beautifully told science stories

Valuable summary of all kinds of interesting and important science books that must be read. Dawkins is telling a lot of stories around this books in the elegant and beautiful way that only he can create and in a great company of a real scientist.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-09-21

Awesome as expected

Richard's enduring wit and mastery of explanaing concepts comes through this collection of essays, forewords and interviews. Edutainment at its very best. I can't wait for "Flights of Fancy"

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  • Martin Miles
  • 05-04-22

I've heard this one before

I have to say that I have long been something of a Dawkins fan, and have read several of his books. I am also very well disposed towards the scientists with whom he discusses various issues, having read one or two of their books and viewed lectures etc on line.
However, there are several problems. The first, and most obvious, is that I have heard all of the material covered before. Many times. This book follows a groove that Dawkins has worn very deeply - to the point of being a rut.
The second is that Dawkins himself comes over, now and then, as less than the open minded liberal scientist familiar from his books. He begins with a quote, repeated twice more, by his mentor to the effect that many graduates have been educated beyond their capacity for critical thought. This is a direct insult to you and I, and I can only assume relates to his dealings with such Oxford undergraduates as Boris Johnson. The good Prof should not insult his readers thus.
The interview with Neil de Grasse Tyson does Dawkins no favours. Tyson is, one feels, not only a witty, intelligent and highly accomplished scientist, and an efficient administrator but also a genuinely warm and supportive human being, of whom we should all have at least one in our lives.
Against this, my mental impression of Dawkins morphed during the interview to Mr Burns of the Simpsons. He was just not on the same page in terms of a friendly conversation versus a didactic piece.
The third issue is that the constant repetition made me all but fall asleep, and certainly miss what might have been good things. I had been looking forward the the Steven Pinker interview. I have a first edition of his 1994 book "The Language Instinct". The blurb on the back includes one line from Noam Chomsky at the bottom of the page, and 8 lines from Dawkins at the top - so there should be a good rapport. In the book Pinker quotes Dawkins "Blind Watchmaker" and discusses Paley's watch metaphor. Lo and behold, Paley is back again here and elsewhere in the present book.
There are good things here. For example the reminder that Darwin's magnum opus is purely about speciation (the clue is in the title) and not about creation - perhaps there is room for some sort of accommodation with religious fundamentalists on that point. No? Thought not.
Curiously, my one takeaway from this book is an aside when discussing DNA, that life is a four letter word (yes, those 4 letters - ACG&T) which I assume is a (the?) genetics joke.
In conclusion, if you have never heard of Dawkins or Darwin, this might be a reasonable place to start. Otherwise, can I recommend, for those of a religious inclination, The God Delusion (much better than Hitchens' more "tabloid" God is not Great) or, if you want to know about genetics, you still can't go far wrong with The Selfish Gene. In fact, I am going to go back to my copy right now.

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  • Steven Waite
  • 06-06-22

Brilliant!

This was a well written and well read book.
The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars across the board was due to Richard Dawkins sweeping generalisation/implication that anyone who voted to leave the EU must be either a racist or a xenophobic moron.
Other than that fatuous small piece, it was an excellent book.