A Devil's Chaplain

A Devil's Chaplain : Selected Writings

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Richard Dawkins is one of the finest minds in science, and in this superb collection of essays and letters, he demonstrates the depth of his knowledge and the rich variety of his interests. Whether he is examining postmodernism or the Human Genome Project, penning a letter to his daughter, or writing a moving eulogy to Douglas Adams and e-mailing Stephen Jay Gould, Dawkins writes with an intellectual vigour and grace that is second to none. This is a very human collection that shows not only the acuity of Dawkins' scientific mind, but also his sense of humour and the warmth of his relationships with friends and family.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 194 x 24mm | 260g
  • Orion Publishing Co
  • Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd )
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • facsims.
  • 0753817500
  • 9780753817506
  • 72,073

Review Text

Richard Dawkins has never been content to be 'merely' a scientist. His writing has always had a personal edge - often more philosophy than biology. It's no surprise then that this is no ordinary collection of academic essays and learned theses. Instead, what we are presented with is a selection of very intimate articles and critical commentaries written by Dawkins over a 25-year period. The title comes from a letter written by Charles Darwin, in which he debated how an omnipotent and just God could have designed such an intolerably cruel and violent process as natural selection. This is the type of subject which those familiar with Dawkins's previous works (The Selfish Gene, The Blind Watchmaker) will know is his meat and drink. Here, however, we have a chance to view a much broader selection of his writings. Dawkins is, as his fans will know, a man with an axe to grind, and in this selection he happily holds forth on a wide range of topics, from Douglas Adams to religion. Most of these essays are written for the non-scientist. Many are deeply personal. But all are written with Dawkins's unmistakable passion, irritation and humour. Of course, these essays are not new, but they have been selected so carefully and thoughtfully that together they form a highly readable retrospective of not just Dawkins's work but also his life. More importantly, what people may have missed in Dawkins's writing previously shines out here - namely, that while he subscribes to Darwinism as a scientist, he fiercely rejects it as a human being, demanding again and again that we aspire to greater things. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Richard Dawkins

Richard Dawkins is an evolutionary biologist renowned throughout the world. He was educated at Oxford and taught zoology before becoming the first holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University, in 1995. His previous books rank among the most influential intellectual works of our time. They include THE SELFISH GENE (1976), RIVER OUT OF EDEN (1995), and UNWEAVING THE RAINBOW (1999).show more

Review quote

there is a lovely tribute to Dawkins's friend Douglas Adams, some interesting speculations on the next few decades of genetic engineering, an explanation of what crystals really are, and some heartfelt reminiscences of Africa. -- Steven Poole THE GUARDIAN his arguments sing with clear-eyed passion and conviction -- Patrick Nees THE DAILY TELEGRAPH this erudite collection... where Dawkins assesses the work of his late rival Stephen Jay Gould is essential reading. -- Travis Elborough THE SUNDAY TIMES 'His passion collapses the notion that scientists are lab-coated androids.' SUNDAY HERALD A rare treat and it comes in seven servings, each essay will grip you at once. NEW SCIENTIST A must-read for fans and non-fans alike and for people of an independent mind everywhere. THE HERALDshow more

Rating details

6,104 ratings
3.97 out of 5 stars
5 35% (2,151)
4 36% (2,203)
3 22% (1,318)
2 5% (284)
1 2% (148)
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