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History in Review

The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing

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The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing
By Richard Dawkins. (Oxford University Press, New York: 2009. Pg. xviii, 419. B & W Illustrations.) ISBN: 978-0-19-921681-9.

Reviewed by Herbert White - December 3, 2009

In The Oxford Book of Modern Science Writing, Richard Dawkins has compiled an outstanding collection of more than 80 popular science writings that range from book excerpts and passages from scientific papers to examples drawn from works of fiction, as well as complete essays. These scientific writings were penned by scientist drawn from across a plethora of scientific fields, as well as by the odd philosopher or two. The writings in this collection were written anywhere from the early 20th century up to the present day. Each essay is preceded by a short introduction written by Dawkins, that helps to place the essay within the greater historical and scientific context in which it was written, and which explains why Dawkins chose to include it in this anthology.

The hallmark of all these writings is that they make the science under discussion accessible to both scientist and general readers alike. As well, these writings serve as a sweeping survey of man's scientific endeavors since the early 20th century, and they run the gamut from humorous forays into the wonderful world of science to dour looks at how we have damaged our own, and as of yet, only World.

The writers highlighted in this anthology range from well known figures such as Rachel Carson, Albert Einstein, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawkings, Richard Leaky, Stephen Jay Gould, and Carl Sagan to perhaps lesser known figures such as Douglas Hofstadter, Loren Eiseley, Max F. Perutz, Daniel Dennett, Martin Rees, and Helena Cronin. In addition, the essays are organized into four thematic categories covering What Scientists Study, Who Scientists Are, What Scientists Think, and What Scientists Delight In.

This collection is a must for readers of all ages. If you do not yet have an interest in science, you will after reading this thrilling collection. It is an ideal addition to all public and private libraries and essential reading for anyone with an interest in the history of science.

About the Author
Richard Dawkins is the author of The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion. He is also a respected scientist and is universally known as "Darwin's Rottweiler" for his staunch advocacy for Darwinism.

Related Reviews:

Scientific Writing: A Reader and Writer's Guide, by Jean-Luc Lebrun.
A concise and readable guide on how to write science papers that are accessible, accurate, and which will hold your readers attention, whether they are science professionals or general readers.

E=mc2 A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation, by David Bodanis.
This book offers a readable and entertaining history of the equation E=mc2, and takes the reader on an informative romp through the development of the science of physics, and explores how Einstein's equation came into being and how it has been put to use.

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