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About the book
  • Published: 1 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9780552779050
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $19.99

An Appetite For Wonder: The Making of a Scientist




An early memoir from the world's most famous atheist, and scientist.

Born to parents who were enthusiastic naturalists, and linked through his wider family to a clutch of accomplished scientists, Richard Dawkins was bound to have biology in his genes. But what were the influences that shaped his life? And who inspired him to become the pioneering scientist and public thinker now famous (and infamous to some) around the world?

In An Appetite for Wonder we join him on a personal journey from an enchanting childhood in colonial Africa, through the eccentricities of boarding school in England, to his studies at the University of Oxford’s dynamic Zoology Department, which sparked his radical new vision of Darwinism, The Selfish Gene. Through Dawkins’s honest self-reflection, touching reminiscences and witty anecdotes, we are finally able to understand the private influences that shaped the public man who, more than anyone else in his generation, explained our own origins.

  • Pub date: 1 May 2014
  • ISBN: 9780552779050
  • Imprint: Black Swan
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 352
  • RRP: $19.99

About the Author

Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is author of The Selfish Gene, voted The Royal Society's Most Inspiring Science Book of All Time, and also the bestsellers The Blind Watchmaker, Climbing Mount Improbable, The Ancestor's Tale, The God Delusion, and two volumes of autobiography, An Appetite for Wonder and Brief Candle in the Dark. He is a Fellow of New College, Oxford and both the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. In 2013, Dawkins was voted the world’s top thinker in Prospect magazine’s poll of 10,000 readers from over 100 countries.

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Praise for An Appetite For Wonder: The Making of a Scientist

“Most geeks cannot write; this one can... Equipped with an undoubted gift for expression, Dawkins the writer comes with a unique pedigree”

Richard Fortey, Guardian

“Lyrical... brilliant... Dawkins’ style [is] clear and elegant”

Financial Times

“Throughout and as usual, Dawkins's writing is graceful, sparkling with anecdotes and wit”

Eugenie Scott, Nature

“Dawkins is a fascinating man and as a writer he is nothing less than essential... he is a man who has influenced or changed the way people think. His story needs to be read.”

Simon Barnes, The Times

“Affirmative nostalgia suits [Dawkins], and so does the good humour that imbues his writing about home... The voice is familiar but the tone is new, and the result is some of his most pleasing prose... The clarity and passion with which he recalls his childhood is matched by the clarity, passion, concerns and imagery – fairness, bullying, kindness to animals – with which he expresses the values he has maintained since then... An Appetite for Wonder speaks eloquently about where his values and preoccupations came from... Warmly illuminating about the making of Dawkins the humanist.”

Marek Kohn, Independent

“Lyrical... [Dawkins's] appetite for wonder is beguiling”

Evening Standard

“Richard Dawkins's memoirs are, like their author, honest, perceptive, sometimes ingenuous, always rational and deeply humane.”

Matt Ridley

“Lyrical... [Dawkins's] appetite for wonder is beguiling”

Evening Standard

“Richard Dawkins is a hero of mine, so being able to read about how he became the man and the thinker he is, was a particular delight for me. How his life formed from an inchoate, primordial soup and then never wavered from sound, scientific principles made for a huge page turning experience; he’s also a great writer, so that helps. Some people get their kicks from Superman’s origin story, or Batman’s origin story… or Jesus’. But for me, it was Richard Dawkins.”

Bill Maher

“Skepticism and atheism do not arrive from revelation or authority. In our culture it's a slow thoughtful process. But, in the beginning there was Dawkins, moving that process along for many of us, with information and inspiration. For the modern skeptical/atheist movement, in the beginning -- there was Dawkins and he was wicked good. Appetite for Wonder shows us this beginning.”

Penn Jillette, author of God No! and Every Day is an Atheist Holiday

“It has been my good fortune to meet many of the greatest minds of our time, but standing above them all in the power of both his ideas and his rhetoric is Richard Dawkins, whose books are major publishing events because they change the conversation and the culture. In An Appetite for Wonder Dawkins turns his critical analysis inward to reveal how his mind works and what personal events and cultural forces most shaped his thinking. Destined to become a classic in the annals of science autobiography.”

Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of The Believing Brain and Why Darwin Matters

“Richard Dawkins is among the most eloquent scientists who has ever written for the public. His work has changed countless people’s lives, opening their minds to the wonder and beauty of science, and to the silliness of myth and superstition. But few people know Dawkins the man. How did such a man, born abroad from a family of some privilege, schooled as traditionally as any upper-class British youth, become one of the most well-known scientists in the world, and at the same time—among many of the faithful at least—among the most despised? Told with frankness and eloquence, warmth and humor, this is a fascinating story of a fascinating man who was lucky enough—for himself and the rest of the world—to fall in love with science. This is a truly entertaining and enlightening read and I recommend it to anyone who wants a better understanding of Dawkins the man and the rightful place of science in our modern world.”

Lawrence Krauss

“An Appetite for Wonder feels very much like the substance of the breezy conversation you might have at a long summer dinner, if Dawkins were the guest of honor…charming, boring, brilliant, contradictory, conventional, revolutionary. We leave it perhaps not full of facts or conclusions, but with a feeling of knowing the man.”

New York Daily News

“Dawkins writes with an admirable honestly… When focusing on his area of expertise: explaining the magic contained within the natural universe and the tree of life, Dawkins proves that today he is still an extraordinary thinker, and one who has made an enormous contribution to understanding human nature. This memoir is a fascinating account of one man's attempt to find answers to some of the most difficult questions posed to mankind.”

NPR Books

“A memoir that is funny and modest, absorbing and playful. Dawkins has written a marvellous love letter to science… and for this, the book will touch scientists and science-loving persons. … an enchanting memoir to read, one that I recommend highly.”

NPR

“Dawkins’ style [is] clear and elegant as usual… a personal introduction to an important thinker and populariser of science. … provide[s] a superb background to the academic and social climate of postwar British research.”

Financial Times

“The Richard Dawkins that emerges here is a far cry from the strident, abrasive caricature beloved of lazy journalists … There is no score-settling, but a generous appreciation and admiration of the qualities of others, as well as a transparent love of life, literature - and science.”

The Independent

“[Here] we have the kindling of Mr. Dawkins’s curiosity, the basis for his unconventionality.”

The New York Times Daily

“This memoir is destined to be a historical document that will be ceaselessly quoted.”

The Daily Beast

“Surprisingly intimate and moving. … He is here to find out what makes us tick: to cut through the nonsense to the real stuff.”

The Guardian

“This first volume of Dawkins's autobiography … comes to life when describing the competitive collaboration and excitement among the outstanding ethologists and zoologists at Oxford in the Seventies—which stimulated his most famous book, The Selfish Gene.”

The Evening Standard

“…this isn’t Dawkins’s version of My Family and Other Animals. It’s the beauty of ideas that arouses his appetite for wonder: and, more especially, his relentless drive … towards the answer.”

The Times

“Enjoyable from start to finish, this exceptionally accessible book will appeal to science lovers, lovers of autobiographies-and, of course, all of Dawkins's fans, atheists and theists alike.”

Library Journal

“…this isn’t Dawkins’s version of My Family and Other Animals. It’s the beauty of ideas that arouses his appetite for wonder: and, more especially, his relentless drive … towards the answer.”

The Times

“Enjoyable from start to finish, this exceptionally accessible book will appeal to science lovers, lovers of autobiographies-and, of course, all of Dawkins's fans, atheists and theists alike.”

Library Journal


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