Meanwhile, all the wonder of the natural process is captured here. (16 halftones; 6 line drawings)

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MAKING BABIES

A NATURAL HISTORY OF PREGNANCY

The hows and whys of pregnancy, from conception to lactation, not for pregnant women seeking advice, but for anyone curious about the process.

Bainbridge, a reproductive biologist who lectures in comparative anatomy and physiology at the Royal Veterinary College in London, tackles his subject by posing five major questions about pregnancy: Why do humans reproduce the way they do—in other words: why sex? How does the maternal body “know” that it’s pregnant? How is a baby put together, that is, how does it develop from fertilized egg into fully-formed fetus? Why doesn’t the maternal immune system reject the intruding fetus? And how do mother and baby survive the birth process? Within his answers to the big questions are explorations of smaller but equally fascinating ones, such as why eggs are big and sperm small, why women menstruate and experience menopause, why identical twins aren’t truly identical, and what triggers birth. The author provides information not only on what is now known but on what was once thought, referring, for example, to the work of Gregor Mendel on genetics, William Harvey on animal reproduction, and Ernst Haeckel on embryology. To put human reproduction in a broader context, he also shows how the process differs in various other mammals. Throughout, the writing is both lively and lucid and the line drawings pleasingly simple and clear. Daring to go out on a limb in his conclusion, Bainbridge predicts that in a hundred years human pregnancy will be very different. He foresees the possibility that, just as conception has been altered by modern reproductive technologies, pregnancy may one day be made redundant by technology’s perfection of ectogenesis, the making of babies outside the human uterus.

Meanwhile, all the wonder of the natural process is captured here. (16 halftones; 6 line drawings)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-674-00653-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2001

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...

A SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING

Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

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NO ONE IS TOO SMALL TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE

A collection of articulate, forceful speeches made from September 2018 to September 2019 by the Swedish climate activist who was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Speaking in such venues as the European and British Parliaments, the French National Assembly, the Austrian World Summit, and the U.N. General Assembly, Thunberg has always been refreshingly—and necessarily—blunt in her demands for action from world leaders who refuse to address climate change. With clarity and unbridled passion, she presents her message that climate change is an emergency that must be addressed immediately, and she fills her speeches with punchy sound bites delivered in her characteristic pull-no-punches style: “I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act.” In speech after speech, to persuade her listeners, she cites uncomfortable, even alarming statistics about global temperature rise and carbon dioxide emissions. Although this inevitably makes the text rather repetitive, the repetition itself has an impact, driving home her point so that no one can fail to understand its importance. Thunberg varies her style for different audiences. Sometimes it is the rousing “our house is on fire” approach; other times she speaks more quietly about herself and her hopes and her dreams. When addressing the U.S. Congress, she knowingly calls to mind the words and deeds of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy. The last speech in the book ends on a note that is both challenging and upbeat: “We are the change and change is coming.” The edition published in Britain earlier this year contained 11 speeches; this updated edition has 16, all worth reading.

A tiny book, not much bigger than a pamphlet, with huge potential impact.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-14-313356-8

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Penguin

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2019

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