An enchanting cabinet of curiosities.



A loose history of the bathysphere that’s imbued with the adventurous spirit of science and exploration.

Designed by diver and inventor Otis Barton in the late 1920s, the bathysphere was a spherical, submersible, windowed chamber that allowed scientists to observe marine life in their natural environment. From 1930 to 1934, Barton and the naturalist William Beebe performed record-setting dives off Nonsuch Island in Bermuda, exploring depths and seeing luminescent, phantasmagoric fish that had never before been recorded. While centered on the Nonsuch dives, the book unfurls its tentacles to adopt a strange new form, caught between a biography of Beebe, a collection of oddball anecdotes, and a meditation on the pursuit of knowledge. Fox, author of the novel To Remain Nameless, eschews a traditional chronology for a more constellation-shaped story, jumping among interrelated vignettes. For example, the author connects Beebe’s 1925 adventure aboard the ship the Arcturus to a 1930s production of King Kong (the co-director was coincidentally aboard the Arcturus and likely drew inspiration from Beebe’s exploits). Elsewhere in the book, Beebe visits a friend during a hurricane, which prompts Fox to recount the strange-but-true story of Dr. James Barry, who was born female in 1789 but lived and worked their whole life as a man. Some readers may be frustrated by Fox’s vaguely connected tangents and wish instead for a more linear history, but there’s a method to his pacing. Beebe believed “no action or organism is separate” and that all of life was “underwritten by the same natural forces.” In Fox’s words, “it was not the number of species that mattered, but how they all fit together, and to sense that, you had to feel around at the edges of things…into the immaterial meaning of things.” Fox seeks to not just tell Beebe’s story, but to embody his philosophy, and he explores the vast potential of storytelling and searches its depths for glimmers of life and connectivity.

An enchanting cabinet of curiosities.

Pub Date: May 16, 2023

ISBN: 9781662601903

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Astra House

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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A heartwarming and inspiring story for animal lovers.


The third volume in the Elephant Whisperer series.

In this follow-up to An Elephant in My Kitchen, Malby-Anthony continues her loving portrait of the Thula Thula wildlife reserve, which she co-founded in 1998 with her late husband, South African conservationist Lawrence Anthony, who published the first book in the series, The Elephant Whisperer, in 2009. Following his death in 2012, Malby-Anthony sought to honor his legacy by continuing his vision “to create a massive conservancy in Zululand, incorporating our land and other small farms and community land into one great big game park.” At the same time, the elephants gave her “a sense of purpose and direction.” In the Zulu language, thula means quiet, and though the author consistently seeks to provide that calm to her charges, peace and tranquility are not always easy to come by at Thula Thula. In this installment, Malby-Anthony discusses many of the challenges faced by her and her staff, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. These included an aggressive, 2-ton rhino named Thabo; the profound loss felt by all upon the death of their elephant matriarch, Frankie; difficulty obtaining permits and the related risk of having to relocate or cull some of their animals; the fear of looting and fire due to civil unrest in the region; and the ongoing and potentially deadly struggles with poachers. Throughout, the author also shares many warm, lighthearted moments, demonstrating the deep bond felt among the humans and animals at the reserve and the powerful effects of the kindness of strangers. “We are all working in unity for the greater good, for the betterment of Thula Thula and all our wildlife….We are humbled by the generosity and love, both from our guests and friends, and from strangers all around the world,” writes the author. “People’s open-hearted support kept us alive in the darkest times.”

A heartwarming and inspiring story for animal lovers.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9781250284259

Page Count: 320

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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A quirky wonder of a book.



A Peabody Award–winning NPR science reporter chronicles the life of a turn-of-the-century scientist and how her quest led to significant revelations about the meaning of order, chaos, and her own existence.

Miller began doing research on David Starr Jordan (1851-1931) to understand how he had managed to carry on after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake destroyed his work. A taxonomist who is credited with discovering “a full fifth of fish known to man in his day,” Jordan had amassed an unparalleled collection of ichthyological specimens. Gathering up all the fish he could save, Jordan sewed the nameplates that had been on the destroyed jars directly onto the fish. His perseverance intrigued the author, who also discusses the struggles she underwent after her affair with a woman ended a heterosexual relationship. Born into an upstate New York farm family, Jordan attended Cornell and then became an itinerant scholar and field researcher until he landed at Indiana University, where his first ichthyological collection was destroyed by lightning. In between this catastrophe and others involving family members’ deaths, he reconstructed his collection. Later, he was appointed as the founding president of Stanford, where he evolved into a Machiavellian figure who trampled on colleagues and sang the praises of eugenics. Miller concludes that Jordan displayed the characteristics of someone who relied on “positive illusions” to rebound from disaster and that his stand on eugenics came from a belief in “a divine hierarchy from bacteria to humans that point[ed]…toward better.” Considering recent research that negates biological hierarchies, the author then suggests that Jordan’s beloved taxonomic category—fish—does not exist. Part biography, part science report, and part meditation on how the chaos that caused Miller’s existential misery could also bring self-acceptance and a loving wife, this unique book is an ingenious celebration of diversity and the mysterious order that underlies all existence.

A quirky wonder of a book.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6027-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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