An Appetite for Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist

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An Appetite for Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist

by Richard Dawkins

HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS | September 24, 2013 | Hardcover

An Appetite for Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist is rated 3.5 out of 5 by 2.

With the 2006 publication of The God Delusion, the name Richard Dawkins became a byword for ruthless skepticism and "brilliant, impassioned, articulate, impolite" debate (San Francisco Chronicle). his first memoir offers a more personal view.

His first book, The Selfish Gene, caused a seismic shift in the study of biology by proffering the gene-centered view of evolution. It was also in this book that Dawkins coined the term meme, a unit of cultural evolution, which has itself become a mainstay in contemporary culture.

In An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins shares a rare view into his early life, his intellectual awakening at Oxford, and his path to writing The Selfish Gene. He paints a vivid picture of his idyllic childhood in colonial Africa, peppered with sketches of his colorful ancestors, charming parents, and the peculiarities of colonial life right after World War II. At boarding school, despite a near-religious encounter with an Elvis record, he began his career as a skeptic by refusing to kneel for prayer in chapel. Despite some inspired teaching throughout primary and secondary school, it was only when he got to Oxford that his intellectual curiosity took full flight.

Arriving at Oxford in 1959, when undergraduates "left Elvis behind" for Bach or the Modern Jazz Quartet, Dawkins began to study zoology and was introduced to some of the university''s legendary mentors as well as its tutorial system. It''s to this unique educational system that Dawkins credits his awakening, as it invited young people to become scholars by encouraging them to pose rigorous questions and scour the library for the latest research rather than textbook "teaching to" any kind of test. His career as a fellow and lecturer at Oxford took an unexpected turn when, in 1973, a serious strike in Britain caused prolonged electricity cuts, and he was forced to pause his computer-based research. Provoked by the then widespread misunderstanding of natural selection known as "group selection" and inspired by the work of William Hamilton, Robert Trivers, and John Maynard Smith, he began to write a book he called, jokingly, "my bestseller." It was, of course, The Selfish Gene.

Here, for the first time, is an intimate memoir of the childhood and intellectual development of the evolutionary biologist and world-famous atheist, and the story of how he came to write what is widely held to be one of the most important books of the twentieth century.

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 pages, 9.5 × 6.5 × 1.17 in

Published: September 24, 2013

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0062225790

ISBN - 13: 9780062225795

Found in: Biography and Memoir

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Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from An appetite for wonder Like many memoirists, Richard Dawkins devotes almost half of this memoir to his childhood, which was a remarkably rich and interesting period, spent largely in what is now Malawi. He describes it all in loving detail, emphasizing all that was good about it, tending to gloss over details such as the discomforts of boarding school for small boys.He was fortunate also in his choice of parents.  His intellect and his original mind did not come to full fruition until he entered Baliol College, Oxford. In retrospect he was perhaps fortunate to be admitted to that illustrious college. His academic track record doesn't sound very impressive until he reached Oxford and had the great good fortune to be mentored by outstanding scholars with original, creative minds. Aspiring scientists with ambition to excel and to rise to the top will find useful advice and wise council in Dawkins' account of how he did it.  He writes well too, which helps.  I'll be recommending this book to ambitious scholars with academic aspirations. 
Date published: 2013-11-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Selfish Author In purchasing this book, I was hoping to gain some insight into Dawkins' pathway to humanism a.k.a. neo-Darwinism. I was left feeling a bit cheated because the book is in actually two volumes: birth to the age of 35 and the yet to be published sequel ( another two years wait.) The most enjoyable sections are of Dawkins' early life in Africa and his schooling in the U.K. Things fall apart after he marries and begins teaching in California. The rest is scientific dribble which left me (and perhaps other readers) completely bored. (One needs a background in statistics and computer science to understand and appreciate Dawkins' latter chapters.) There is a void in the detail of his first marriage, other than for scholarly pursuits. In summary, I found the first part of the book quite interesting but became quickly lost in the scientific jargon of the latter half of the book.
Date published: 2014-01-15

– More About This Product –

An Appetite for Wonder: The Making Of A Scientist

by Richard Dawkins

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 320 pages, 9.5 × 6.5 × 1.17 in

Published: September 24, 2013

Publisher: HARPERCOLLINS PUBLISHERS

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0062225790

ISBN - 13: 9780062225795

From the Publisher

With the 2006 publication of The God Delusion, the name Richard Dawkins became a byword for ruthless skepticism and "brilliant, impassioned, articulate, impolite" debate (San Francisco Chronicle). his first memoir offers a more personal view.

His first book, The Selfish Gene, caused a seismic shift in the study of biology by proffering the gene-centered view of evolution. It was also in this book that Dawkins coined the term meme, a unit of cultural evolution, which has itself become a mainstay in contemporary culture.

In An Appetite for Wonder, Richard Dawkins shares a rare view into his early life, his intellectual awakening at Oxford, and his path to writing The Selfish Gene. He paints a vivid picture of his idyllic childhood in colonial Africa, peppered with sketches of his colorful ancestors, charming parents, and the peculiarities of colonial life right after World War II. At boarding school, despite a near-religious encounter with an Elvis record, he began his career as a skeptic by refusing to kneel for prayer in chapel. Despite some inspired teaching throughout primary and secondary school, it was only when he got to Oxford that his intellectual curiosity took full flight.

Arriving at Oxford in 1959, when undergraduates "left Elvis behind" for Bach or the Modern Jazz Quartet, Dawkins began to study zoology and was introduced to some of the university''s legendary mentors as well as its tutorial system. It''s to this unique educational system that Dawkins credits his awakening, as it invited young people to become scholars by encouraging them to pose rigorous questions and scour the library for the latest research rather than textbook "teaching to" any kind of test. His career as a fellow and lecturer at Oxford took an unexpected turn when, in 1973, a serious strike in Britain caused prolonged electricity cuts, and he was forced to pause his computer-based research. Provoked by the then widespread misunderstanding of natural selection known as "group selection" and inspired by the work of William Hamilton, Robert Trivers, and John Maynard Smith, he began to write a book he called, jokingly, "my bestseller." It was, of course, The Selfish Gene.

Here, for the first time, is an intimate memoir of the childhood and intellectual development of the evolutionary biologist and world-famous atheist, and the story of how he came to write what is widely held to be one of the most important books of the twentieth century.

About the Author

Richard Dawkins writes about such topics as DNA and genetic engineering, virtual reality, astronomy, and evolution. Dawkins was educated at Oxford University and taught zoology at the University of California and Oxford University, holding the position of the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science. He is a member of the International Academy of Humanism. Dawkins' books include The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, and Climbing Mount Improbable. His newest book, entitled The God Delusion, shows how religion fuels war, foments bigotry, and abuses children. Dawkins supports his points with historical and contemporary evidence.

Editorial Reviews

"[An Appetite for Wonder is] a memoir that is funny and modest, absorbing and playful. Dawkins has written a marvelous 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)
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