An enthusiastic guide to learning about the natural world.

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ASTRONOMY & NATURAL HISTORY CONNECTIONS

FROM DARWIN TO EINSTEIN

A science lecturer expands on his favorite astronomy and evolutionary topics.

In this book, Boyce (A Travelers Guide to the Galápagos Islands, 1990) draws on his skills as a tour guide and educator to draw connections between astronomy and natural history. With a wry sense of humor and a broad base of knowledge—along with thorough research, displayed in a substantial bibliography—the author steers readers through navigating the night sky with a telescope, supplies a timeline of astronomical discoveries from the ancient Greeks to the present, follows Charles Darwin to the South Pacific, and explains the mechanics of evolution in detail. The text is illustrated with vivid, full-color images of Earth and the universe, all captured by Boyce. The book is full of opinionated commentary (Tycho Brahe “was a bit of a real life Supernova”; a wormhole theorist “had the best intentions, but so did Peter Benchley when he wrote Jaws”) and packed with a wealth of information, presented with the same showmanship and zeal as one of the author’s lectures. Boyce’s passion for sharing his knowledge of the natural world with others is evident throughout, and if the chapters occasionally run long, it is only because of his boundless energy when imparting scientific nuggets. The author’s idiosyncratic diction, with nonstandard italics (used for proper nouns like “University of Arizona” and “Nobel Prize”) and capitalization (“a recent detection of Gravity Waves from a cataclysmic Black Hole merger that was reported to be 10 times greater than the combined light energy from all the Stars and Galaxies in the Universe”), detracts somewhat from the exuberant prose. And there are a few minor errors (Einstein did not publish in 2005). Despite these limitations, the book is a useful one for science fans, providing coherent and engaging explanations of complex subjects in easy-to-follow language, with a firm foundation in the experience and expertise of a dynamic teacher eager to deliver lessons to an audience.

An enthusiastic guide to learning about the natural world.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 423

Publisher: The Baryon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2018

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Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

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UNTAMED

More life reflections from the bestselling author on themes of societal captivity and the catharsis of personal freedom.

In her third book, Doyle (Love Warrior, 2016, etc.) begins with a life-changing event. “Four years ago,” she writes, “married to the father of my three children, I fell in love with a woman.” That woman, Abby Wambach, would become her wife. Emblematically arranged into three sections—“Caged,” “Keys,” “Freedom”—the narrative offers, among other elements, vignettes about the soulful author’s girlhood, when she was bulimic and felt like a zoo animal, a “caged girl made for wide-open skies.” She followed the path that seemed right and appropriate based on her Catholic upbringing and adolescent conditioning. After a downward spiral into “drinking, drugging, and purging,” Doyle found sobriety and the authentic self she’d been suppressing. Still, there was trouble: Straining an already troubled marriage was her husband’s infidelity, which eventually led to life-altering choices and the discovery of a love she’d never experienced before. Throughout the book, Doyle remains open and candid, whether she’s admitting to rigging a high school homecoming court election or denouncing the doting perfectionism of “cream cheese parenting,” which is about “giving your children the best of everything.” The author’s fears and concerns are often mirrored by real-world issues: gender roles and bias, white privilege, racism, and religion-fueled homophobia and hypocrisy. Some stories merely skim the surface of larger issues, but Doyle revisits them in later sections and digs deeper, using friends and familial references to personify their impact on her life, both past and present. Shorter pieces, some only a page in length, manage to effectively translate an emotional gut punch, as when Doyle’s therapist called her blooming extramarital lesbian love a “dangerous distraction.” Ultimately, the narrative is an in-depth look at a courageous woman eager to share the wealth of her experiences by embracing vulnerability and reclaiming her inner strength and resiliency.

Doyle offers another lucid, inspiring chronicle of female empowerment and the rewards of self-awareness and renewal.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-0125-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dial

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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