Climbing Mount Improbable (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Dawkins has made a career of science writing, tackling many of biology's most puzzling and counterintuitive ideas with lucid prose and illustrative examples. The rigor of his argumentation keeps the reader afloat in the choppiest scientific seas.

In Climbing Mount Improbable, Dawkins examines the mechanisms of evolution, and in particular, some of the natural structures that most seem to defy origin by random mutation. How does something as intricate and precise as a human eye or a spider's web evolve from chance?

The answers are fascinating, and to find them, Dawkins takes you on an extraordinary survey of the natural world. Back in paperback twenty years after its original publication, this is a real gem of scientific exposition."

--Matt, Longfellow Books

— From Matt Recommends!


A brilliant book celebrating improbability as the engine that drives life, by the acclaimed author of The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker.

The human eye is so complex and works so precisely that surely, one might believe, its current shape and function must be the product of design. How could such an intricate object have come about by chance? Tackling this subject—in writing that the New York Times called "a masterpiece"—Richard Dawkins builds a carefully reasoned and lovingly illustrated argument for evolutionary adaptation as the mechanism for life on earth.

The metaphor of Mount Improbable represents the combination of perfection and improbability that is epitomized in the seemingly "designed" complexity of living things. Dawkins skillfully guides the reader on a breathtaking journey through the mountain's passes and up its many peaks to demonstrate that following the improbable path to perfection takes time. Evocative illustrations accompany Dawkins's eloquent descriptions of extraordinary adaptations such as the teeming populations of figs, the intricate silken world of spiders, and the evolution of wings on the bodies of flightless animals. And through it all runs the thread of DNA, the molecule of life, responsible for its own destiny on an unending pilgrimage through time.

Climbing Mount Improbable is a book of great impact and skill, written by the most prominent Darwinian of our age.

About the Author

Richard Dawkins is the Charles Simonyi Professor for the Understanding of Science at Oxford University, and is the author of The Selfish Gene, Climbing Mount Improbable, and many other books.

Praise For…

Mount Improbable is Dawkins’s metaphor for natural selection: its peaks standing for evolution’s most complex achievements . . . a perfect, elegant riposte to a great deal of fuzzy thinking.
— Observer

— David Attenborough
Product Details
ISBN: 9780393354089
ISBN-10: 0393354083
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: November 8th, 2016
Pages: 352
Language: English