The New Richard Dawkins Book: The Magic of Reality May 10, 2011

The New Richard Dawkins Book: The Magic of Reality

The cover of Richard Dawkins’ new book has just been released!

It’s called The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True.

I love the title — it’s much better than the original “working” title, What is a Rainbow, Really? But judging from the table of contents, it looks like it’s aimed at a younger generation as well as science novices:

Some people might be glad to see Dawkins writing another book about science instead of religion. I don’t think that he’s done writing about atheism, though. Rather, he just doesn’t have to do it so explicitly anymore.

If you look at the Table of Contents, he’s taking over the role of a Sunday School teacher. When kids want to know why there’s Night and Day, some Christians will point to Genesis. When kids want to know who the first Man and Woman were, some Christians will answer, “Adam and Eve.”

Dawkins is using his beautiful prose and Dave McKean‘s fantastic illustrations to give scientific explanations to the questions we all have growing up, while discreetly sticking a tongue out at any person who refers to a Holy Book for the answers instead. It’s like he’s telling children, “What your pastors have been telling you is a lie. Here’s what’s really going on.”

You can see a preview of the book here (13MB PDF). If you like what you see, you can pre-order it now — it’ll be released in October.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • This is wonderful! I’ve just pre-ordered my copy.

  • Steve
  • Oh wow! I want to get a copy for me and for my nieces!

  • dauntless

    Unfortunately, from the preview, the book looks just a bit too heady for children and a bit too dumbed down for adults.

  • Am i really going to be the first person to get arm-flailingly excited that the book is illustrated by Dave McKean? Sometimes it seems like everyone I like, regardless of the medium they work in, somehow all know each other. It’s like they’re all in some cool club or something.

  • Sinfanti

    Excellent explanations and illustration. It will be perfect for my kids. I will definitely be getting a copy this fall.

  • Excellent! Definitely picking up a copy for my kids.

  • Vanessa

    This is a real book? I thought it was a joke. It’s incredibly strange to me that Dawkins would write a “children’s” book.

  • ACN

    I am getting this for my youngest brother. My mom has been indoctrinating him into all of the same nonsense she forced on myself and my middle brother and I want to head him off at the pass.

  • Steve

    Given the concern Dawkins often voices about religious education and early indoctrination it makes perfect sense. He is trying to counter things he always criticized

  • anonymous

    There are children and children. I think this is not going to be too headed for some of them.

    Plus it does allow some passive aggressiveness when dealing with YECs that don’t seem to know any of those things, can just refer them to a kids’ book 🙂

    However, I got to say that the illustration in the “what light is made of ” page is quite creepy.

  • Robert Wilson

    Insane Clown Posse is gonna hate this…

  • Danielle

    Even though its for children, I’m totally buying it.

  • Nakor

    I have to agree with dauntless and Vanessa; this book seems a bit light for adults and a bit heavy for kids. I wonder how it’ll work out.

    Oh, and I agree with Robert as well. 😛

  • CanadianNihilist

    Unfortunately, from the preview, the book looks just a bit too heady for children and a bit too dumbed down for adults.

    I thought that at first as well, but everyone knows that atheists have smarter kids so it should be fine. 😛

  • Laurence

    @ Dave Haaz-Baroque

    Sometimes it seems like everyone I like, regardless of the medium they work in, somehow all know each other

    I know exactly what you mean, I felt the same thing seeing Dawkins interview Derren Brown.

    I can’t see many kids choosing this book, but I think it’s perfect for parents reading together with their children. I have no children and shall be buying it just for me!

  • Unfortunately this type of book is needed to combat things like “Tide goes in, tide goes out.” I’ll be getting a few copies for the Camp Quest libraries and my grandkids.

  • Richard Wade

    Just ordered it. This is what I do for a living, explaining basic natural phenomena and scientific ideas to children and any adults who want to know.

  • I’ll be buying this one to read with my nieces. They keep asking me questions and while I have a grasp of the topics I have no idea how to “dumb them down” so a 6 year old will understand.

    From the short snippets provided it looks like there might be some experiments you can try at home within the book and if there is I’ll be able to combine the easier to read text and the experiments to show them how stuff works.

    As for the notion of Dawkins writing a “children’s book”, don’t forget that children is anything between zero and eighteen (well, not technically since many young adults start having some adult responsibilities by around age 15 or so). A five year old will likely have a hard time understanding this, which is why I’m hoping for experiments in the book that I can show my 6 year old niece, but an 11 – 15 year old? From the sample provided I honestly don’t think this is too far over their heads.

    Of course the fundies aren’t going to like it simply because its written by Dawkins and will likely petition schools to not carry the book on their shelves; can’t have kids learning how the physical world really works now can we?

  • My children will love this.

  • Chas

    Childhood is a “spectrum disorder.” There is an age that this book will be most appropriate.

  • Melanie

    I looooove this! I’m going to get it and keep it for when I have children. The illustrations are beautiful except for the one creepy one lol. The words do seem like a little bit much for a child that’s under about 9 or 10 but an adult can always help them out and a little challenge never hurt anyone 😉

    My mom is about to give my cousin’s baby my old children’s catholic bible and say it’s from me (I’m going to tell them it’s from her NOT me) so I might just get him a copy of this when he’s old enough to read it too.

  • JenV

    I think this book is brilliant from the preview.

    I guess if it’s too heady for my kid, then I’ll have to use my imagination a bit. 🙂 If my kid is too little to understand all the big words, then I’ll just use words he’ll understand. When he gets old enough to read it himself, it’ll be a great addition to his science library. It may be too dumbed down for adults; however, I will venture to say it is probably a good refresher, and I bet most of us will learn at least a couple of new things from it.

    My 3.5 year old is already asking questions about rainbows and volcanoes…I’m sure we can glean some interesting stories out of this, and when he’s old enough to read it himself, I’m sure he’ll really enjoy the in-your-face illustrations and fun experiments.


  • merjen

    I’m excited for this one. Hoping it can help explain to my 10 yr old daughter who the first people on earth were, as she puts it. I can’t seem to satisfy her young mind with my answers, she seems to feel like there had to be someone that was first… the slow process of evolution isn’t entirely ‘computing’ with her. She was never indoctrinated to believe the bible, although because of where we live, every one of her friends have been :/ It’s an ongoing process. She has a twin sister as well who isn’t asking as many questions, but I can tell she listens.

  • Sarah

    That is one ugly cover.
    Otherwise, I think we should each buy one for Bill O’Reilly – who’s with me?

  • ACN

    omg I hadn’t even thought about that! Yes!

  • Title obviously inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. Dawkins must be a brony.

  • Alice

    I wish he would publish it under a pseudonym so that I could sneak it into the hands of my little sister. She’s being brainwashed into the whole apocalypse craze in her private school. Her sense of wonder would be better directed towards something less bloodthirsty.

  • Alan C

    The fact that Richard Dawkins was writing a book aimed at children is no surprise; he’s talked in interviews and at RDF about the project several times since “Greatest Show …” was published, and his intent always was to aim at children and young adults. Whether or not he succeeded seems to be addressed in the comments above, though his original intent was never in doubt. I hope the book doesn’t dumb down too much, but I doubt it. Dawkins’ clear writing style, based on his previous body of work, might just transcend the perceived difficulty of the material. I, for one, am looking forward to my copy of the book to share with my 15 yr old granddaughter!

  • Sinfanti

    According to Amazon, the book will be 288 pages. Wow, if that’s right it looks like Dawkins will be covering a wide range of topics. I’m really looking forward to this.

  • inmyhead

    I absolutely love Dave McKean!! He does the best cover art and have you seen mirror mask. It is crazy creepy good. I am excited for this book on so many levels.

  • David

    FYI the publisher took down the PDF.

  • Kate

    HTML cache of preview here

    Though illustrations not viewable – just copy.

  • Eevi

    Am I the only one who isn’t able to read the preview? It just opens up a grey page and no amount of waiting seems to do anything. It’s not geo-locked or anything (I’m in UK)?

    I really wanted to see it 🙁

  • Jesse

    Yeah Hemant, can you fix the preview link? It was very helpful.

    EDIT: According to Dawkins website:
    “Note: A pdf of an early draft of a sample chapter, uncorrected and consequently full of errors, which was released by mistake, has now been taken down at the publisher’s request.”

  • Michael Gilbart-Smith

    Rather disappointing given the subtitle. I was hoping that Dawkins would be fessing up to his empiricist epistemology. But no, empiricism is assumed to be the only credible epistemology rather than argued for once again. It seems Dawkins remains unaware of his obscurantist assumptions once again.

  • Ricardo

    tide goes in, tide goes out, IS THAT EXPLAINED? cuz i heard you cant explain that…

  • Atheist

    The link to the sample PDF (13MB) is bad. Links to a zero-k file.

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