There is no chance that the authors will knock Newton off his pedestal, but they present a well-documented argument that he...

OUT OF THE SHADOW OF A GIANT

HOOKE, HALLEY, AND THE BIRTH OF SCIENCE

The story of Robert Hooke (1635-1703) and Edmond Halley (1656-1742) and an exploration of “how science might have developed if Isaac Newton had never lived.”

Newton was as revered as anyone during his time and will remain a towering figure even to readers of this provocative dual biography, in which the husband-and-wife team of science writers maintain that the great man had feet of clay. The Gribbins (A History of Science in 100 Experiments, 2016, etc.) clearly admire their subjects and dislike Newton—not only for his personality, which most historians agree was execrable, but also his integrity (of lack thereof). They make a good case. A prodigy as a youth, Hooke came to London as a teenager and became the “best experimental scientist of his time, the leading microscopist of the seventeenth century, an astronomer of the first rank, and he developed an understanding of earthquakes, fossils, and the history of the earth that would not be surpassed for a century.” Newton claimed credit for many of Hooke’s discoveries, including his First Law of Motion, the concept of gravity as a universal attractive force, and the inverse square law of gravity. Hooke’s reputation has revived over the past century, and he has been called Britain’s Leonardo da Vinci. Halley, known these days only for the eponymous comet, was another spectacularly energetic polymath who produced the first atlas of the southern skies, captained and navigated the first official scientific voyage to the southern seas, and produced a steady stream of scientific observations. Perhaps most important, he got along well with Newton and prodded him to write the Principia, paying for its publication.

There is no chance that the authors will knock Newton off his pedestal, but they present a well-documented argument that he owed more to the ideas of others than he admitted.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-300-22675-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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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 Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

THE 48 LAWS OF POWER

The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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