A compelling life of a top-notch scientist.

BRIGHT GALAXIES, DARK MATTER, AND BEYOND

THE LIFE OF ASTRONOMER VERA RUBIN

A concise biography of a pioneering astronomer.

With an observatory, galaxy, asteroid, and Martian mountain bearing the name of Vera Rubin (1928-2016), her immortality seems assured, and Science News associate editor Yeager does a fine job with the first of what promises to be many biographies. Fascinated by stars from an early age, Rubin ignored her teachers’ advice to avoid the sciences, entered Vassar as the only astronomy major in her class, and went on to productive graduate work at Cornell and Georgetown. As attentive to her family as the stars, she and her supportive husband (also a scientist) had four children, all of whom received doctorates in the sciences or mathematics. Yeager’s description of Rubin’s work may perplex science-naïve readers, but most will understand the impressive discoveries. Almost everyone knows that planets circle the sun and that, as gravity weakens, distant planets move more slowly. Stars in galaxies such as our Milky Way also rotate around the center. Astronomers long assumed that they moved like the planets until the 1930s, when they discovered that stars far from the center rotated as fast as those closer in. To prevent such stars from flying off, a galaxy would need far more gravity than astronomers measured. Astronomers debated the possibilities for decades until Rubin’s studies of star movements produced convincing evidence that surrounding every galaxy is a halo of invisible matter five to 10 times greater than what astronomers had previously measured. This “dark matter” seemed incomprehensible, so it was not until the 1980s, a decade after Rubin began publishing her findings, that the establishment came around. Thereafter, she continued her research and teaching, and she earned numerous honors, including the National Medal of Science—but not the Nobel Prize, which many feel she deserved. Rubin’s research lacks the sexiness of exploding stars and black holes, but Yeager has done her homework, delivering a lucid explanation of the science without ignoring Rubin’s struggles as a pathbreaking woman in her profession.

A compelling life of a top-notch scientist.

Pub Date: Aug. 17, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-262-04612-1

Page Count: 232

Publisher: MIT Press

Review Posted Online: June 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

TANQUERAY

A former New York City dancer reflects on her zesty heyday in the 1970s.

Discovered on a Manhattan street in 2020 and introduced on Stanton’s Humans of New York Instagram page, Johnson, then 76, shares her dynamic history as a “fiercely independent” Black burlesque dancer who used the stage name Tanqueray and became a celebrated fixture in midtown adult theaters. “I was the only black girl making white girl money,” she boasts, telling a vibrant story about sex and struggle in a bygone era. Frank and unapologetic, Johnson vividly captures aspects of her former life as a stage seductress shimmying to blues tracks during 18-minute sets or sewing lingerie for plus-sized dancers. Though her work was far from the Broadway shows she dreamed about, it eventually became all about the nightly hustle to simply survive. Her anecdotes are humorous, heartfelt, and supremely captivating, recounted with the passion of a true survivor and the acerbic wit of a weathered, street-wise New Yorker. She shares stories of growing up in an abusive household in Albany in the 1940s, a teenage pregnancy, and prison time for robbery as nonchalantly as she recalls selling rhinestone G-strings to prostitutes to make them sparkle in the headlights of passing cars. Complemented by an array of revealing personal photographs, the narrative alternates between heartfelt nostalgia about the seedier side of Manhattan’s go-go scene and funny quips about her unconventional stage performances. Encounters with a variety of hardworking dancers, drag queens, and pimps, plus an account of the complexities of a first love with a drug-addled hustler, fill out the memoir with personality and candor. With a narrative assist from Stanton, the result is a consistently titillating and often moving story of human struggle as well as an insider glimpse into the days when Times Square was considered the Big Apple’s gloriously unpolished underbelly. The book also includes Yee’s lush watercolor illustrations.

A blissfully vicarious, heartfelt glimpse into the life of a Manhattan burlesque dancer.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-27827-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2022

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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