The journey provides the setting for a collection of some 40 tales. Each explores an aspect of evolutionary biology through the stories of characters met along the way or glimpsed from afar: the Elephant Bird's Tale, the Marsupial Mole's Tale, the Lungfish's Tale. Together they give a deep understanding of the processes that have shaped life on Earth: convergent evolution, the isolation of populations, continental drift, and the great extinctions.
©2004 Richard Dawkins; (P)2004 Orion Publishing Group Ltd
"Dawkins does it again"
I have read the original book and found it to be a bit slow in places but otherwise great. As such I was very happy to listen to this book in an abridged version, especially when Dawkins reads so much of it himself. I was very pleased with this audiobook overall; the quality, voices and editing are excellent.
Loved listening to the book. Authors ability to convince and his knowledge is inspiring.
OK got your attention.
This audiobook gives a wonderful overview of evolution and how we (and I mean you, me and everyone now alive) got here.
It makes a very special case of how lucky WE are to be here, experiencing this wonderful world.
RD comes for a lot of flack re his beliefs on religion, but he makes a very strong case for how special WE truely are.
So many things could have prevented me from writing this review, from a bus hitting me on the way to work, mum not meeting dad, Germany winning WW2, the Black Death not killing so many people in England, the last ice age lasting a bit longer, the KT asteroid missing earth, Jupiter not 'sucking' big rocks etc etc (Deep huh?).
The universe is really, really big. This planet has been going for a very, very, long time. RD tries to get us thinking how things change, why they change and more importantly sets these changes within a time frame - a very, very long timeframe.
I loved this audiobook; it was testing, hard work at times but ultimately life affirming. I'm pleased to be here and I really want to thank all my ancestors for their help in surviving and procreating (don't know what mum will make of this!!).
Apologies for using 'very' so much in this review.....but that really is where the creationists lose the plot - this planet is very, very, very, very old - science proves this - really, truely proves this and a lot can happen in this very, very, very long timeframe.
All this stuff happened way before 4004 BC - so come on everyone, get a grip on the scale of creation.
I just think its sad that some people can't see how special we really are!
Many thanks Richard for an educational read/listen (though I much prefer it when you stick to provable science and let the reader do the philosophical musings!!).
"A great story, well told"
Exploring humanity's evolution backwards through our ancestor species, this book powerfully shows the immense glory, wonder and incredible intricacies of the natural world, explained in a way which is eminently understandable, combining good science (including explaining gaps in knowledge where they currently exist) and genuine passion.
Here is a mind which revels in the stupendous marvel that is life, and is itching to share his boundless enthusiasm with the world.
It's a shame it is only available abridged - as it is a big book, the reading is missing an awful lot, and whole chapters have been chopped to enable those that remain still to make sense and tell their tale. However, what remains is very well read.
"an intelligible tale"
With talent and style, R Dawkins leads us through the maze of ancestry, origins, confraternity between the species, and places all this information in the context of the universe, which he also explains with consumate care and seeming ease for those of us who are not scientists of any kind.
It is book to listen to time and again, whose depths mirror those of the very universe he helps us to envisage. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
"the ancestor's tale"
Having 2 narrators made this complicated subject easier to understand and it was a fascinating way of looking at evolution. It is a pity it is abridged as having the whole book would have been better although it made me reread the original. A must read for anyone interested in evolution
"Dawkins doing what he does so well."
The Ancestors Tale is a wonderfully enjoyable pilgramage to the beginnings of life on Earth. Dawkins voice is engaging and reminded me somewhat of that of the greatest story teller of the natural word, David Attenborough. Dawkins' charming wife Lala shares the naration, with the partitioning of the task making listening to a thick book, packed full of detail, feel effortless.
My favourite chapter was The Coelacanths Tale. Dawkins retelling of how in 1938 a 425 million year old living fossil was discovered really makes you feel as if you had been there at that magic moment yourself.
A brilliant and truly informative read (listen).
"A Pilgrimage Sparkling with Delights."
The Ancestors Tale is a treasure chest of amazing accounts. Like the duck billed platypus, mocked for its bill, which is in fact is a stunning piece of technology, resembling AWAKS radar - it is an electro and pressure sensor laden probe for detecting minuscule muscle movements of prey in muddy water. Or the Hippo ancestors tale, from the middle of which lineage sprang all Whales, making Hippos closer to Whales than to any land animals. We puzzle together in the flatworms tale about the unlikely origins of sex, and with it the male gender, or gawp at the psychedelic bizarreness of the Velvet worm "Hallucigenia" and the significance of the "Cambrian Explosion".
Dawkins corrects from the start the anthropocentric notion we have of ourselves as the pinnacle of Evolution. There is only one pinnacle, and that is at the origin of life, where all divergent species come together. The "Concestor" of all life. We look at the theory of RNA world, in speculating about the first replicators in the primordial soup.
Dawkins is probably the UKs best known atheist, but whereas his theology is to me the steel and concrete of a modernist tower block, his evolutionary accounts are glittering diamonds, sparkling with vivid colour. And, I begin to understand, for this is his religion, beside which traditional religion looks tawdry, dull and unimaginative.
This book is Dawkins pilgrimage, in which we join him, like Chaucer's Canterbury pilgrims, going back in time, through the wonders of our common ancestry to meet and hear the ancestor's tales. Perhaps it would have been better unabridged, but only because we would hear more.
Finally, I love the intimacy of the narration, alternating between Richard and his wife Lalla Ward, their telling fantastically bringing the text to life. I cannot praise this book enough, if you have any sense of the wonder of life... Go travel back in time with them, and meet our common ancestry - I promise you will not regret it.
"The same notes but a different symphony"
The first thing that struck me about this audio is that they are different to the book. Not only are they abridged but the language is changed to emphasize different points & to be more palatable to the ear. With reading the book, a lot of the stuff flew over my head (e.g. Cholanoflagellates) & I'm glad such things are abridged here.
The second is the presence of Lalla Ward, who seems to cover the large quotations Dawkins often uses in his works & also seems to read the more technical (or rather more mundane) parts of the tales. Having listened to the whole of Origin of Species, I am thankful that the narrator varies a bit as occasionally Dawkins can read things as known that are unknown to his wife (& so read differently).
In terms of content there is still the rich variety of tales (including my favourite: the Duck-billed Platypus) & I can only recall a few interesting Gambits which have been left out (e.g. Eve evolving 40,000 years before Adam & the Paedomorphosis of Man story).
My one criticism is that the Ancestor's tale is very detailed & involves lots of left-brain work. If you are listening to this in a car (or even typing a review!) then it is hard to fully follow the reasoning. Maybe this is because Men can't multi-task, but I'd be bold enough to suggest that even women may find this difficult...
To conclude then, audio books are often overlooked as a medium & it is to this one's credit that it is adapted to the ear, just as the book is adapted to the eye. If you know of anyone who hasn't read the book then I'd suggest giving them this as a starter, and the hard backed version of the book (with its shiny pictures) as a main course. As one of my fellow reviewers says: 1 copy of this book should be given to every member of mankind, to put the doubts about evolution to rest. Whatever you can do to play your part is to your credit.
"A super listen"
Richard Dawkins (mostly) puts down his anti theistic hobby horse and writes an absolutely brilliant tale of a journey back in time to the very first spark of life. In homage to Chaucer's Canterbury tales, the story is told by the various pilgrims that meet up traveling back along their various journeys to our common ancestor.
If you're interested in learning how life really began - and even if you're intrigued by where it may be going - Download and listen to this book. Or Mr. Dawkins will be very angry, and so will I - this is one book everyone needs to read.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.