A Brief Candle in the Dark is the hugely entertaining sequel to the New York Times bestselling memoir An Appetite for Wonder. Richard Dawkins delves deeply into his intellectual life spent kick-starting new conversations about science, culture, and religion and writing yet another of the most audacious and widely read books of the twentieth century—The God Delusion.
Called “one of the best nonfiction writers alive today” (Stephen Pinker) and a “prize-fighter” (Nature), Richard Dawkins cheerfully, mischievously, looks back on a lifetime of tireless intellectual adventure and engagement. Exploring the halls of intellectual inquiry and stardom he encountered after the publication of his seminal work, The Selfish Gene; affectionately lampooning the world of academia, publishing, and television; and studding the pages with funny stories about the great men and women he’s known, Dawkins offers a candid look at the events and ideas that encouraged him to shift his attention to the intersection of culture, religion, and science. He also invites the reader to look more closely at the brilliant succession of ten influential books that grew naturally out of his busy life, highlighting the ideas that connect them and excavating their origins.
On the publication of his tenth book, the smash hit, The God Delusion, a “resounding trumpet blast for truth” (Matt Ridley), Richard Dawkins was catapulted from mere intellectual stardom into a circle of celebrity thinkers dubbed, “The New Atheists”—including Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Daniel Dennett.
Throughout A Brief Candle in the Dark, Dawkins shares with us his infectious sense of wonder at the natural world, his enjoyment of the absurdities of human interaction, and his bracing awareness of life’s brevity: all of which have made a deep imprint on our culture.
Richard Dawkins, voted Prospect magazine's #1 World Thinker, is the author of the blockbuster bestseller The God Delusion. He was first catapulted to fame with The Selfish Gene, which he followed with The Extended Phenotype, The Blind Watchmaker, River Out of Eden, Climbing Mount Improbable, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Ancestor's Tale, A Devil's Chaplain, The Greatest Show on Earth, and The Magic of Reality (with Dave McKean). Dawkins is a fellow of the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Literature. He was the inaugural holder of the Simonyi Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University and is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Royal Society of Literature Award, the Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the Kistler Prize, the Shakespeare Prize, the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing About Science, the Galaxy British Book Awards Author of the Year Award, and the International Cosmos Prize of Japan. Dawkins founded the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science in 2006.
Praise for Brief Candle in the Dark:
“...fascinating, thoroughly readable, and joyful. . . . Dawkins offers great insight into the nature of science and introduces readers to many of the major players responsible for creating the field of evolutionary biology.”
“Displays all the intelligence, insight, clear-thinking, literary quality, and at time provocative observations we have come to expect from Dawkins.”
“Readers of Brief Candle are in for many treats: lively prose from one of our greatest living writers; stimulating ideas on the nature of life and the human condition; and the opportunity to eavesdrop on the workings of an extraordinary mind, intellectually fierce yet personally generous.”
--Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Language Instinct and The Better Angels of Our Nature
“This is the Richard Dawkins I have come to know and respect as a friend, colleague, and fellow traveler. For those who want some insight into the true nature of the man behind The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion, this book is sure to please, and perhaps surprise.”
--Lawrence M. Krauss is a theoretical physicist and cosmologist and the author of bestselling books including The Physics of Star Trek, and A Universe from Nothing. He co-starts with Richard Dawkins in the film The Unbelievers.
“Richard always writes like he’s telling you a story, which is why so many of us non-science people understand science better than we used to. But when the story is his own life, it’s doubly compelling.”
“Brief Candle in the Dark provides so many pleasures: the searing clarity of scientific insights and explanations; the depth of wit and width of erudition; a prose which can soar to poetry while never losing its accuracy; an inspired delight in the beauty of nature’s ways.”
--Rebecca Newberger Goldstein, author of Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away
“Brief Candle in the Dark gives future historians [Dawkins’] pathway to greatness that begins with the publication of his monumental The Selfish Gene and climaxes with the book that may do more to elevate atheism to a legitimate position than any that came before, whose impact reverberates still.”
--Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist at Scientific American, author of The Moral Arc
"Sometimes funny, sometimes fascinating, and always interesting, Dawkins takes us through his later years, revealing the humanity behind the man like never before. Brief Candle in the Dark reminds us, warmly and eloquently, that the greatest accomplishments are achieved when science is bolstered by good will and kindness.”
--David Silverman, President of American Atheists, Inc.
"In Brief Candle in the Dark, Dawkins takes us through a journey of anecdotes and conversations with world-class scientists and thinkers. You don’t have to be a scientist to appreciate how deeply Dawkins loves interpreting science for the rest of us in this remarkable book about his own life.”
--Herb Silverman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, founder and president of the Secular Coalition for America, and author of Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt.
Praise for An Appetite for Wonder:
"Fantastic. [Offers] a fascinating glimpse of how one of today’s most influential scientific minds blossomed into himself.”
--Maria Popova, Brainpickings.org
"Surprisingly intimate and moving. … He is here to find out what makes us tick: to cut through the nonsense to the real stuff.”
"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.”
"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.”
"[Here] we have the kindling of Mr. Dawkins’s curiosity, the basis for his unconventionality.”
--A.J. Jacobs, New York Times bestselling author of The Know-It-All
“…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 (UK)
“[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.”
“…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
“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. ... Some people get their kicks from Superman’s origin story, or Batman’s origin story ... But for me, it was Richard Dawkins."
“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
"Skepticism and atheism do not arrive from revelation or authority. In our culture it’s a slow thoughtful process... 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
"Told with frankness and eloquence, warmth and humor, 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, Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration, and Director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, author of A Universe from Nothing and Physics of Star Trek
"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, starred review
“Well-written, captivating, and filled with fascinating anecdotes.”
"This memoir is destined to be a historical document that will be ceaselessly quoted.”
--The Daily Beast
"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.”
--London Evening Standard
"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.”