A blend of oral history, natural history and travelogue that brings an oft-forgotten corner of the West to life.

URANIUM SEEKERS

Royce (Country Miles Are Longer than City Miles, 2006) looks at the glory days of uranium mining in the American West.

The author draws on black-and-white images from a never-before-published 1970s photo essay by photographer Martin about Utah’s uranium mines to takes readers on a journey through the history of uranium mining. The book covers its early days—before the properties of radiation were discovered around the turn of the 20th century—as well as the industry’s heyday in the 1940s, when the demands of the Manhattan Project and the fledgling nuclear industry meant a booming market for every ton of ore the mines could produce. The book includes an oral history from Brenda Migliaccio, the daughter of a prominent mining family, as well as anecdotes from others in the industry. The text is illustrated with evocative images of the mines’ stark environment, and the author describes an engaging world, full of classic Old West characters and a handful of East Coast and European scientists who supplied the theoretical knowledge that made the miners’ finds so valuable. Several times, the author includes a story about a possibly apocryphal visit from Marie Curie, and it’s a tale that’s clearly important to local residents, even if, according to the author, it can’t be confirmed in the historical record. The book would likely have benefited from a stronger edit, as frequent grammatical errors and flowery prose drag down the narrative. The book’s subject, however, is an intriguing and specialized one, and this history will likely find a receptive audience among historians and enthusiasts of the Four Corners region. The author’s passion for his topic, and his desire to see this story told, is evident throughout.

A blend of oral history, natural history and travelogue that brings an oft-forgotten corner of the West to life.

Pub Date: July 9, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477203996

Page Count: 166

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A quirky wonder of a book.

WHY FISH DON'T EXIST

A STORY OF LOSS, LOVE, AND THE HIDDEN ORDER OF LIFE

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. 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

HOW TO PREVENT THE NEXT PANDEMIC

The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more