Janet Maslin in the New York Times:
Anyone expecting an incisive account of Mr. Dawkins’s growth as a scientist may be surprised by the meandering path he takes here. True, his lineage is impressive, and his boyhood was uncommonly adventurous, so both warrant attention. He takes his time explaining that his great-great-great-grandparents eloped more cleverly than most couples do. Henry Dawkins and Augusta Clinton made their getaway in a coach, but not before the groom-to-be had planted half a dozen decoy coaches near Augusta’s home so that her father, Sir Henry Clinton, could not prevent the marriage. As the British commander in chief in America, he could not win the Revolutionary War, either.
The family history also includes Clinton George Augustus Dawkins, son of the eloped couple, who earned his place in family lore during the Austrian bombardment of rebel Venice in 1849, when a cannonball hit his bed.
“A cannonball penetrated the bed covers and passed between his legs, but happily did him no more than superficial damage,” reads the inscription that accompanies a cannonball in Mr. Dawkins’s possession. The story may not be 100 percent true, but it does underscore this family’s staying power.