The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True. Text: Richard Dawkins. Illustrator: Dave McKean

by |September 12, 2011

Ever since I read Richard Dawkins’ letter to his 10 year old daughter in which he describes the different ways we come to ‘know’ things I have been hoping he would write a book about knowledge aimed at young people.

And Dawkins hasn’t let me down. The Magic of Reality: How We Know What’s Really True is the book I’ve been waiting for and I shall be buying copies for everyone I know.

Here’s what the publisher has to say…

A stunning collaboration between a world-famous scientist and outstanding illustrator

What are things made of?
What is the sun?
Why is there night and day, winter and summer?
Why do bad things happen?
Are we alone?

Throughout history people all over the world have invented stories to answer profound questions such as these.

Have you heard the tale of how the sun hatched out of an emu’s egg?
Or what about the great catfish that carries the world on its back?
Has anyone ever told you that earthquakes are caused by a sneezing giant?

These fantastical myths are fun – but what is the real answer to such questions?

The Magic of Reality, with its explanations of space, time, evolution and more, will inspire and amaze readers of all ages – young adults, adults, children, octogenarians.Teaming up with the renowned illustrator Dave McKean, Richard Dawkins answers all these questions and many more.

In stunning words and pictures this book presents the real story of the world around us, taking us on an enthralling journey through scientific reality, and showing that it has an awe-inspiring beauty and thrilling magic which far exceed those of the ancient myths.

We encounter rainbows, earthquakes, tsunamis, shooting stars, plants, animals, and an intriguing cast of characters in this extraordinary scientific voyage of discovery.

Richard Dawkins and Dave McKean have created a dazzling celebration of our planet that will entertain and inform for years to come.

Philip Pullman: ‘It’s the clearest and most beautifully written introduction to science I’ve ever read. Again and again I found myself saying “Oh! So that’s how genes work!” (or stars, or tectonic plates, or all the other things he explains).

Explanations I thought I knew were clarified; things I never understood were made clear for the first time. My favourite adjective of praise has always been “clear”, and this book has clarity all the way through. I can think ofnothing more likely to delight an inquisitive child …

What matters most is his tremendous ability to explain complicated things in terms that are never in the slightest either condescending (the I’m-cleverer-than-you brainy professor model) or falsely excitable (the kids’ TV presenter I’m-just-as-dumb-as-you model). He treads the line between these two unhelpful positions with faultless accuracy and great skill, which is wonderful to see. It’s exhilarating, in fact.’

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is the renowned academic responsible for such works as The Selfish Gene through to the phenomenal The God Delusion. Visit our Richard Dawkins author page

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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