If awareness, goodwill, and motivation are key, this highly readable report is a valuable effort to turn the Cecil moment...



A travel writer and photojournalist chronicles the history and assesses the current precarious conditions of one of the world’s most beloved animals.

When the well-known Zimbabwean lion Cecil was killed by an American trophy hunter in 2015, the outrage that followed indicated the emotional ties that we have with the “king of beasts.” Evans, who has written for the Boston Globe, Lonely Planet, and other publications, offers an in-depth report on the status of lions around the world, which are now facing extinction. She begins her account with cave lions, a species roaming the Earth during the Ice Age and known today from a few fossils and from paintings in the Chauvet Cave in Ardèche, France. The author speculates about their demise and then examines the reasons why the present-day species, Panthera leo, has declined catastrophically from the millions to perhaps 20,000 in sub-Saharan Africa and some 500 in a preserve in Gujarat, India. In two chapters, darkly titled “People Hate Lions, Part I and Part II,” Evans shows how humans have been a major factor in their decline. She makes clear the impact of loss of wild habitat through conversion of lion country to farm country, the impact of bushmeat hunting and killing to obtain lion body parts for medicinal use, and the rise in viral infections. Evans combines research and personal experience to investigate the issues involved, showing both points of view in the controversial question of whether trophy hunting is a positive or a negative force. She also looks at the conflicts that arise when human beings and lions live in close proximity to each other. Much of her book, however, is focused on conservation efforts. She demonstrates the successes achieved by conservation projects all over Africa as well as the problems they face.

If awareness, goodwill, and motivation are key, this highly readable report is a valuable effort to turn the Cecil moment into a movement.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4729-1613-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Bloomsbury Wildlife

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science...


Bryson (I'm a Stranger Here Myself, 1999, etc.), a man who knows how to track down an explanation and make it confess, asks the hard questions of science—e.g., how did things get to be the way they are?—and, when possible, provides answers.

As he once went about making English intelligible, Bryson now attempts the same with the great moments of science, both the ideas themselves and their genesis, to resounding success. Piqued by his own ignorance on these matters, he’s egged on even more so by the people who’ve figured out—or think they’ve figured out—such things as what is in the center of the Earth. So he goes exploring, in the library and in company with scientists at work today, to get a grip on a range of topics from subatomic particles to cosmology. The aim is to deliver reports on these subjects in terms anyone can understand, and for the most part, it works. The most difficult is the nonintuitive material—time as part of space, say, or proteins inventing themselves spontaneously, without direction—and the quantum leaps unusual minds have made: as J.B.S. Haldane once put it, “The universe is not only queerer than we suppose; it is queerer than we can suppose.” Mostly, though, Bryson renders clear the evolution of continental drift, atomic structure, singularity, the extinction of the dinosaur, and a mighty host of other subjects in self-contained chapters that can be taken at a bite, rather than read wholesale. He delivers the human-interest angle on the scientists, and he keeps the reader laughing and willing to forge ahead, even over their heads: the human body, for instance, harboring enough energy “to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”

Loads of good explaining, with reminders, time and again, of how much remains unknown, neatly putting the death of science into perspective.

Pub Date: May 6, 2003

ISBN: 0-7679-0817-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2003

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As much a work of philosophy as of physics and full of insights for readers willing to work hard.


Undeterred by a subject difficult to pin down, Italian theoretical physicist Rovelli (Reality Is Not What It Seems: The Journey to Quantum Gravity, 2017, etc.) explains his thoughts on time.

Other scientists have written primers on the concept of time for a general audience, but Rovelli, who also wrote the bestseller Seven Brief Lessons on Physics, adds his personal musings, which are astute and rewarding but do not make for an easy read. “We conventionally think of time,” he writes, “as something simple and fundamental that flows uniformly, independently from everything else, uniformly from the past to the future, measured by clocks and watches. In the course of time, the events of the universe succeed each other in an orderly way: pasts, presents, futures. The past is fixed, the future open….And yet all of this has turned out to be false.” Rovelli returns again and again to the ideas of three legendary men. Aristotle wrote that things change continually. What we call “time” is the measurement of that change. If nothing changed, time would not exist. Newton disagreed. While admitting the existence of a time that measures events, he insisted that there is an absolute “true time” that passes relentlessly. If the universe froze, time would roll on. To laymen, this may seem like common sense, but most philosophers are not convinced. Einstein asserted that both are right. Aristotle correctly explained that time flows in relation to something else. Educated laymen know that clocks register different times when they move or experience gravity. Newton’s absolute exists, but as a special case in Einstein’s curved space-time. According to Rovelli, our notion of time dissolves as our knowledge grows; complex features swell and then retreat and perhaps vanish entirely. Furthermore, equations describing many fundamental physical phenomena don’t require time.

As much a work of philosophy as of physics and full of insights for readers willing to work hard.

Pub Date: May 18, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1610-5

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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