A welcome excursion for pop-sci fans featuring a number of striking artworks.


Confessions of a Time Traveler


In this diverse collection of essays, short stories, illustrations, anecdotes, and other missives, Raham informs without being dry and teaches without being pedantic while covering a wide range of subjects in biology and the history of science.

The project of making sense of human existence may be endless, but you’ve got to start somewhere. In one piece, Raham explains how the story of the evolution of life on Earth is intimately related to microbial development. An obituary for a revered scientist sheds light on the value of her discoveries, translating them into everyday speech while capturing the personal significance of her work for Raham. “Alive & Aloft in the Aeolian Zone,” a combined essay and interview with science professors, describes the role played by the wind in creating and sustaining the planet’s complex aerial ecosystem. Other pieces discuss metamorphosis, Thomas Jefferson’s interest in the study of fossils, and the momentous discovery of arrowheads by Loren Eiseley in the 1930s. Also included are captivating excerpts from original works of sci-fi and adventure following “a dynasty of outstanding fossil hunters….Like me—and most paleontologists—the Sternbergs became captive to the lure of finding worlds lost in the catacombs of deep time.” Raham’s striking illustrations figure prominently throughout, varying in style from pen-and-ink sketches and cartoons to colorful, otherworldly paintings of tiny life forms. What’s more, comments from Raham preface each piece in the collection, providing context and background, which adds a personal touch and something of an overarching narrative to the book. Overall, the well-rounded collection testifies to the riches gained by sustained dedication to scientific inquiry, an enterprise that involves patience, persistence, and original thinking. Though the pieces differ in style and intent, the general outlook is broadly humanist, emphasizing the importance of scientific experimentation as a fundamental component of our collective self-understanding as a species. And yet this enthusiasm is tempered by humility about our place in an incomprehensibly large cosmos.

A welcome excursion for pop-sci fans featuring a number of striking artworks.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2015

ISBN: 978-0990482659

Page Count: 162

Publisher: Penstemon Publications

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

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