Nature & Travel Book Reviews

LIGHT by Bruce Watson
HISTORY
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An ingenious combination of science and art history."
The usual popular-science history of light begins with the ancient Greeks and peters out soon after Einstein, but this fine account by Smithsonian contributing writer Watson (Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, 2010, etc.) paints with a broader brush.Read full book review >
BLOOD AND EARTH by Kevin Bales
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

"A cleareyed account of man's inhumanity to man and Earth. Read it to get informed, and then take action."
In a heart-wrenching narrative, Bales (Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's Slaves, 2007, etc.) explores modern slavery and the devastating effects on its victims as well as the environmental degradation caused by this morally reprehensible institution.Read full book review >

ONE BREATH by Adam Skolnick
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A worthy addition to the growing body of literature on adventures that test the limits of nature and mankind."
A fatality spurs an inquiry into an extreme sport, illuminating the risks—as well as the rewards—of free diving. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 11, 2016

"An unusual and vastly entertaining journey into the world of mysterious plant life as experienced by a gifted nature writer."
A prolific and talented British nature writer explores 40 plant species and how they have influenced the human imagination over the centuries. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 15, 2015

"First-rate reporting and erudition underlie this successful effort to re-establish the reputation of an indispensable scientist."
A United States Geological Survey scientist returns with a rich account of one of his predecessors: Thomas Jaggar (1871-1953), a somewhat forgotten pioneer in volcanology. Read full book review >

TRACE by Lauret Savoy
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Nov. 10, 2015

"Springing from the literal Earth to metaphor, Savoy demonstrates the power of narrative to erase as easily as it reveals, yielding a provocative, eclectic exposé of the palimpsest historically defining the U.S. as much as any natural or man-made boundary."
An earth scientist explores the broad historical branches extending from her own roots. Read full book review >
THE PLANET REMADE by Oliver Morton
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"An important account of cutting-edge research that will fascinate serious readers and demand the attention of policymakers."
Economist briefings editor Morton (Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet, 2008, etc.) offers a calm, rational discussion of deliberate technological interventions to cool the planet's climate system.Read full book review >
THUNDER & LIGHTNING by Lauren Redniss
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: Oct. 27, 2015

"A highly atmospheric, entertainingly earnest, and intimate engrossment with the world's most popular topic of conversation."
Redniss (Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout, 2010) delivers an arrestingly unconventional exploration of weather.Read full book review >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Oct. 27, 2015

"Winchester's passionate research—on sea and land—undergirds this superb analysis of a world wonder that we seem hellbent on damaging."
The preternaturally curious writer about everything from the Oxford English Dictionary to volcanoes to the Atlantic Ocean (Atlantic: A Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, 2010, etc.) returns with a series of high-resolution literary snapshots of the Pacific Ocean.Read full book review >
A FIELD PHILOSOPHER'S GUIDE TO FRACKING by Adam Briggle
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Oct. 19, 2015

"Goliath takes it right between the eyes in this unique take on the convoluted politics, science, and cultural issues at stake regarding fracking."
Out of the university and into the streets, Briggle (Philosophy/Univ. of North Texas) brings the practice of "field philosophy" to the question of whether fracking is feckless or feasible. Read full book review >
BOUNDLESS by Kathleen Winter
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Oct. 13, 2015

"With the eye of a poet and the stamina of an Amundsen, Winter proves a delightful guide into unexplored realms. Worthy of shelving alongside Barry Lopez's Arctic Dreams (1986)."
Literate, luminous travels in the far north. Read full book review >
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Oct. 1, 2015

"Serious readers will delight in these pages."
An unusually rewarding meditation on how a wild mushroom can help us see the world's ruined condition after the advent of modern capitalism. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >