Nature & Travel Book Reviews

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 >
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 >

POSTCARDS FROM STANLAND by David H. Mould
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"As a genial travel guide, Mould, an academic who doesn't write like an academic, shows how one should resist the temptations to stereotype a culture too easily and understand it too quickly."
An illuminating travelogue through Central Asia. Read full book review >
THE ROAD TO LITTLE DRIBBLING by Bill Bryson
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

"Anglophiles will find Bryson's field notes equally entertaining and educational."
Bryson (One Summer: America, 1927, 2013, etc.) takes us on another fascinating cross-country jaunt.Read full book review >
BLOOD AND EARTH by Kevin Bales
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

"A cleareyed account of man's inhumanity to man and Earth. Read it to get informed, and then take action."
In a heart-wrenching narrative, Bales (Ending Slavery: How We Free Today's Slaves, 2007, etc.) explores modern slavery and the devastating effects on its victims as well as the environmental degradation caused by this morally reprehensible institution.Read full book review >

ALL MONSTERS MUST DIE by Magnus Bärtås
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A clear and troubling picture of a country forced to embrace madness."
Two Swedish artists (one visual, the other musical) record their impressions of a one-week sojourn in North Korea in 2008. Read full book review >
ONE BREATH by Adam Skolnick
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A worthy addition to the growing body of literature on adventures that test the limits of nature and mankind."
A fatality spurs an inquiry into an extreme sport, illuminating the risks—as well as the rewards—of free diving. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 11, 2016

"An unusual and vastly entertaining journey into the world of mysterious plant life as experienced by a gifted nature writer."
A prolific and talented British nature writer explores 40 plant species and how they have influenced the human imagination over the centuries. Read full book review >
BLOOD OIL by Leif Wenar
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Jan. 2, 2016

"A fascinating reframing of large and vexing questions. Highly recommended for policymakers and energy strategists as well as students of contemporary philosophy."
A provocative examination of natural resources, their extraction, and their control. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Dec. 15, 2015

"First-rate reporting and erudition underlie this successful effort to re-establish the reputation of an indispensable scientist."
A United States Geological Survey scientist returns with a rich account of one of his predecessors: Thomas Jaggar (1871-1953), a somewhat forgotten pioneer in volcanology. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Dec. 1, 2015

"A thoughtfully observed travel memoir and history."
A filmmaker and writer tells the story of the historical figures and ordinary people who have attempted to "control, adapt to, or explore" the largely wild and untamed Andes cordillera. Read full book review >
THE ART OF GRACE by Sarah L. Kaufman
HISTORY
Released: Nov. 16, 2015

"An insightful, intelligent examination of grace, which often 'seems to elude fixed meaning.'"
Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post dance critic Kaufman reflects on the meaning of grace in modern society.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 >