Cristopher R. Brodie in American Scientist:
Richard Dawkins is the first holder of the newly endowed Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford. He is best known for his award-winning popular science books, beginning with the best-selling The Selfish Gene in 1976 and including The Blind Watchmaker (1986), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996) and Unweaving the Rainbow (1998). An outspoken atheist, Dawkins is also a frequent participant in public discussions of science and religion. His latest book, The Ancestor’s Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, is a backward journey through four billion years of evolutionary history to the origin of life, drawing insights from the “tales” of 40 creatures met along the way.
Associate Editor Christopher Brodie spoke with Dawkins by telephone in December 2004.
I want to talk with you a bit about The Ancestor’s Tale. What made you want to write a book that was more general than your other works, that encompassed ground that you’ve previously covered?
It doesn’t really cover previous ground. I’ve never written about the actual detailed facts of evolutionary history before. My previous books have all been attempts to make evolution easier to understand, to make theory easier to understand. This is the first book that really lays out the detailed facts of evolutionary history.