• Brief Candle in the Dark

  • My Life in Science
  • By: Richard Dawkins
  • Narrated by: Richard Dawkins
  • Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (340 ratings)

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Brief Candle in the Dark

By: Richard Dawkins
Narrated by: Richard Dawkins
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Publisher's Summary

In this hugely entertaining sequel to the New York Times best-selling memoir An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins delves deeply into his intellectual life spent kick-starting new conversations about science, culture, and religion and writing yet another of the most audacious and widely read books of the 20th century - The God Delusion.

Called "one of the best nonfiction writers alive today" (Stephen Pinker) and a "prize-fighter" (Nature), Richard Dawkins cheerfully, mischievously, looks back on a lifetime of tireless intellectual adventure and engagement. Exploring the halls of intellectual inquiry and stardom he encountered after the publication of his seminal work, The Selfish Gene; affectionately lampooning the world of academia, publishing, and television; and studding the pages with funny stories about the great men and women he's known, Dawkins offers a candid look at the events and ideas that encouraged him to shift his attention to the intersection of culture, religion, and science. He also invites the reader to look more closely at the brilliant succession of ten influential books that grew naturally out of his busy life, highlighting the ideas that connect them and excavating their origins.

On the publication of his tenth book, the smash hit, The God Delusion, a "resounding trumpet blast for truth" (Matt Ridley), Richard Dawkins was catapulted from mere intellectual stardom into a circle of celebrity thinkers dubbed, "The New Atheists" - including Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett.

Throughout A Brief Candle in the Dark, Dawkins shares with us his infectious sense of wonder at the natural world, his enjoyment of the absurdities of human interaction, and his bracing awareness of life's brevity: all of which have made a deep imprint on our culture.

The complete list of narrators includes: Mitch Albom, Roger McGuinn, Ingrid Michaelson, John Pizzarelli, Paul Stanley, George Guidall, Mike Hodge, Robin Miles, Christian Baskous, Tony Chiroldes, Kevin O'Neil, and Adriana Sananes, Ken Brown, and Sarab Kamoo.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your My Library section along with the audio.

©2015 Richard Dawkins (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

What listeners say about Brief Candle in the Dark

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I'm a Dawkins Groupie but...

... I had to hang in there before this memoir caught me up.

I am a huge fan of Richard Dawkins - just to be up front about that. But it took a bit of persistence to stay with this second half of his memoir. Rather than lay the book out chronologically, he laid it out in "topics." Unfortunately, his first topic was all about the various conferences and talks and other such events in which he had taken part. Except for his discussion of the Royal Society Christmas Lectures, this was fairly dry and uninteresting to me. I was about to give up on this book but then...

...the DH and I went to an appearance of his in Kansas City and were privileged to both attend a small reception for him beforehand (a fund-raiser for his Foundation for Reason and Science for which we paid a tidy sum - full disclosure) followed by his public appearance. where he discussed his book and told stories from it...

...so I decided to stick with the book and am now glad that I did. I of course most loved his discussions of science, but I did end up enjoying the opportunity to learn a bit more about his life on a more personal level.

I enjoyed his narration to such an extent that I don't think the audio version could have been nearly as good without it. He has a lovely sense of humor, for all his very British reserve, and is clearly passionate about his science and the privilege he enjoys to share his knowledge and experience.

13 people found this helpful

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What Richard did next

I’ve never been much of a one for reading memoirs. I read Churchill’s memoirs from his World War II period, but that felt more like a history than a memoir. The reason I chose to listen to Dawkins' autobiography was that he, like Churchill I suppose, is one of my heroes. The Selfish Gene and the God Delusion changed my life twice over a 25 year period, and I’ve always enjoyed anything he’s ever written (although I confess I didn’t finish the Ancestor’s Tale).

What I like about Dawkins is his ability to explain concepts with superb clarity and rapier-sharp logic, using brilliant examples to illustrate his ideas. In a memoir you don’t really get much of this (except during occasional digressions, which were my favourite parts of the book). You do get some insights into what it is like to be Richard Dawkins (during the second half of his life at least, this being part 2 of his memoirs) and this is amusing and entertaining, but not riveting, fascinating or life-changing.

There is a structure to the book in that it is in chronological order, but aside from this it feels very casual and unstructured, just a series of anecdotes about the things that he got up to. There’s a lot of name-dropping, but not because he wants to impress us with the famous people he’s met, just that he has been increasingly surrounded by famous people and it would be silly to deliberately omit them from his story.

So, if you like Dawkins and you can tolerate the relatively mundane milieu of a memoir, then I’d say this book is definitely worth a listen. I never got at all bored or wanted to switch off, I just didn’t learn anything that altered my World View. It’s probably unreasonable to expect anything so transformative from a memoir.

6 people found this helpful

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Very slow and boring. A book with only personal stories.

It's really hard to stay engaged with this book. It is more like an autobiography than a book with knowledge. I'm a fan of the author but I regret spending money on this particular book.

3 people found this helpful

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The Ramblings of a Super Ego

What disappointed you about Brief Candle in the Dark?

I could not detect a coherent story or theme except how important and bright he thinks he is. I was bored out of my mind listening to Professor Dawkins academic observations at Oxford, the first section of the book, and almost gave up on it. My interest picked up when he discussed his writings and collaborations.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Listening to Professor Dawkins read his own biography was enlightening. His glaring egotism, sarcasm, and close-mindedness was readily apparent.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Initially I was revolted by his manner, but I enjoyed how he turned a phrase and his excellent vocabulary. That kept me going, but I learned mostly how not to write a book.

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Tha is an autobiography!

Great book! Great story! Great sotoryteller! Fantastic for the fans of nature and for the fans of Dawkins!

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"My Brief Candle In the Mind of a Genius"

Dawkins gives an astounding account of his life that's eloquence rivals the late Carl Sagan.

2 people found this helpful

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Hero

Get well soon Professor Dawkins. You sir are my candle in the dark. Thank you.

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Exceptional

Narrated by the author who's voice gives the story of Dawkins life the flare with which it was meant to be told. I can only hope to be alive to narrate my own.

2 people found this helpful

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Lacks a story

This could have been an interesting book had Dawkins focused on the science rather on the people. The book reads as a nexus of praises of all the great people he met over the years. The words “delightful”, “distinguished” appear countless times on each page. It is boring. Couple that with the highfalutin British upper class language and you feel you are back in the early 20th century Oxford.

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one of my most favorite

Richard Dawkins is one of my most favorite scientists. I wish I could know him in private life as I'm quite sure he would be a blast to hang out with. I've been reading his books time and again for several years now and in doing so he has given me answers to some of my hardest questions. From why do dogs die so young in comparison to humans when we are made out of the same flesh and blood, to why are we even here? why do we have contiousness? I enjoy his narration and writing style as well as his wife's and find his choice in friends amongst the scientific community are like my top picks of favorite scientists who I also read from, like Jarod Diamond, Lawrence Kraus, etc.