Nature & Travel Book Reviews

INCARCERATION NATIONS by Baz Dreisinger
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"An eye-opening, damning indictment of the American prison system and the way its sins reverberate around the globe."
A writer and social activist chronicles her visits to prisons around the globe to gain insight into what works and doesn't work. Read full book review >
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"An impassioned and well-reasoned cry for 'great rising tides of affirmation of justice and human decency and shared thriving.'"
A philosopher and award-winning nature writer examines the moral arguments behind the need to end the processes that have created global warming. Read full book review >

THE SILK ROAD by Bill Porter
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Fans of Owen Lattimore, The Road to Oxiana, Aurel Stein, and other like-minded ventures and adventurers will find Porter's latest a pleasure and an inspiration."
In this latest installment in his decadeslong journey through China, Porter (South of the Clouds, 2015, etc.) wanders westward into the mountains, never quite courting danger, never quite avoiding it.Read full book review >
NEMESIS by Misha Glenny
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"Glenny does an admirable investigative job, delving deeply into the complicated causes and effects of Rio's drug trafficking."
A page-turning chronicle of the life and career of a favela don illustrates the larger challenges of a deeply impoverished, class-ridden Brazilian society.Read full book review >
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: Feb. 9, 2016

"A watery romp under the waves that will appeal to anyone wanting to broaden their knowledge of our watery planet."
Coral and reef ecologist Hardt dives into the sex lives of sea creatures. Read full book review >

OUTPATIENTS by Sasha Issenberg
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Feb. 6, 2016

"Policymakers will benefit from the author's densely detailed but accessible, on-the-ground reporting of an increasingly commonplace phenomenon with serious implications for the future of health care."
Monocle Washington correspondent Issenberg (The Victory Lab: The Secret Science of Winning Campaigns, 2012, etc.) describes the rise of medical tourism, which draws patients from around the world to such unexpected places as Hungary, the acknowledged dental capital of Europe, and Thailand, whose government touts it as the "Medical Hub of Asia." Read full book review >
SHRINKING THE EARTH by Donald Worster
HISTORY
Released: Feb. 3, 2016

"A bracing, intelligent survey of wealth become immiseration, essential for students of environmental history."
Eminent historian Worster (Emeritus, American History/Univ. of Kansas; A Passion for Nature: The Life of John Muir, 2008, etc.) offers a concise, often elegiac account of the end of the American centuries.Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A soulful memoir of adventure and one woman's love for her sled dogs."
Moderow briskly recounts her experiences in the brutally challenging Iditarod race, a journey that requires "passion, dedication to learning, and an immense amount of patience," not to mention "the collaboration of many beating hearts." Read full book review >
LIGHT by Bruce Watson
HISTORY
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An ingenious combination of science and art history."
The usual popular-science history of light begins with the ancient Greeks and peters out soon after Einstein, but this fine account by Smithsonian contributing writer Watson (Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, 2010, etc.) paints with a broader brush.Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Liberating reading for armchair adventurers."
A National Geographic explorer's account of the three years she spent trekking alone through wild and sparsely populated regions in Mongolia, China, Siberia, and Australia. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"A brisk, lighthearted travelogue with an exuberant guide."
What dead American presidents reveal "about ourselves, our history, and how we imagine our past and future." Read full book review >
WALKING THE NILE by Levison Wood
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"Wood delivers a bold travelogue, illuminating great swathes of modern Africa, but as literature, it leaves something to be desired."
Walking the Nile has enticed many explorers, but Wood provides an up-to-the-minute portrait of the nations and people that claim the world's longest river. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >