LOCOMOTIVE

BUILDING AN EIGHT-WHEELER

Precise draftsmanship of numbered charts and steps make this book from Weitzman (Old Ironsides, 1997) a bull’s-eye for meeting the desires of both railroad buffs and the mechanically inclined. Shifting his focus from the waterways to the rails, the author places his detailed procedural information in historical perspective, opening with a brief discussion of the birth of the railroads in 1830, when Peter Cooper’s steam locomotive, Tom Thumb, lost a race to a horse; moving on through the ensuing four decades, when the manufacture of locomotives was an exuberant cottage industry; and continuing through the 1870s, when all that activity culminated in America’s becoming the worldwide leader in the industry, and steam engines replaced water wheels. Following that is a description of the orderly and precise assembly of the various parts of an eight-wheel locomotive, an explanation of the drafting and crafting of mechanical metallic parts, and coverage of the somehow humanizing process of building the little wooden cab in which the engineer and fireman lived during their long hauls over the rails. With the black-and-white renderings full of intricate detail, this is a fine addition to historical collections. (Nonfiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-69687-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Macho prose full of praise for would-be warriors and the men who train them, seemingly designed to enthrall young men, boost...

CHOSEN SOLDIER

THE MAKING OF A SPECIAL FORCES WARRIOR

Former Navy SEAL Couch redeploys the you-are-there approach of The Warrior Elite (2001) to depict the grueling training undergone by Army Special Forces Class 8-04.

Popularly known as the Green Berets, this elite program has a graduation rate of less than one in five. Beginning in August 2004, the author stayed for ten months at Camp Mackall in North Carolina, following the men closely as they were winnowed and hardened by the Special Forces Qualification Course and subsequent specialized training programs. First, however, Couch gives civilian readers some basic information about the mission and organization of Special Forces, a group that he believes is essential to winning the global war on terrorism. Standards are high, and candidates undergo mental and psychological screening as well as physical and professional assessment. The Green Berets, Couch stresses, are soldier-teachers who must be able to connect with and train local people to battle insurgents in their own country. Using lots of army acronyms and lingo, the veteran novelist (Silent Descent, 1993, etc.) creates an on-the-spot picture of the men’s tough, dirty and exhausting daily life. Couch not only observes and reports on the exceptionally demanding classroom- and field-training, he interviews many students and their instructors. Class members, here given pseudonyms, seem to talk freely about their reasons for being in the program and their reactions to the training; staff comments about the men (including those who leave, voluntarily or involuntarily) are also frank.

Macho prose full of praise for would-be warriors and the men who train them, seemingly designed to enthrall young men, boost recruitment and please the army.

Pub Date: March 6, 2007

ISBN: 0-307-33938-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2006

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Year to year, this science series has become something of a treasured literary institution, and Ridley gives us yet another...

THE BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE WRITING 2002

Annual selection of some of the country’s most illuminating recent popular-science articles.

This volume, edited by science author Ridley (The Cooperative Gene, 2001, etc.), is an ideal roundup of wide-ranging, high-quality journalism: in this case, 21 examples of the best of the best, culled from the pages of the New York Times, Discover, the New Yorker, Wired, and elsewhere. While the entries are uniformly superb, there are a few stand-outs: Lauren Slater’s colorful profile of a most unusual New England plastic surgeon and his curious theories about the potential of the human body; Gary Taubes’s assault on common myths about dietary fat; Sally Satel’s caution about our eagerness to ignore race as a factor in understanding health differences between people; Natalie Angier’s compelling history, written in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, of the human “trait” of altruism. The subjects of global terrorism and the Internet converge eloquently in Julian Dibbell’s reflections on “steganography,” the ancient art of hiding messages that, today, has gone fully digital. Ridley, who clearly delights in speculative pieces that grope a bit in the dark, juxtaposes two of last year’s most provocative articles concerning climate change: Nicholas Wade’s account of Danish eco-optimist Bjorn Lomberg, who raised the hackles of environmentalists by offering well-researched conclusions showing that, in many areas, the state of the world’s ecology is not as gloomy as often believed; and Darcy Frey’s profile of scientist George Divoky, who has observed bird life at the top of the world for a quarter-century and sees plenty to be concerned about. Ridley, who cites in his prologue the importance to scientific inquiry of the expression “I don’t know,” ends with Divoky’s saga as a kind of tribute to the timeless ideal of the scientist’s resolve and human questing in general.

Year to year, this science series has become something of a treasured literary institution, and Ridley gives us yet another jewel.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-621162-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2002

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more