Science & Technology Book Reviews

Released: Nov. 17, 2015

"An engaging yet disquieting portrait of postwar America through the eyes of a pair of brothers who accomplished great things in different fields."
In this meticulously researched dual biography of scientist Bernard Vonnegut (1914-1997) and his brother, fiction writer Kurt (1922-2007), Orion contributing editor Strand (Killer on the Road: Violence and the American Interstate, 2012, etc.) focuses on the late 1940s to the early 1950s, when the brothers both worked at General Electric.Read full book review >
CYBERPHOBIA by Edward Lucas
Released: Nov. 17, 2015

"An engaged overview of technology's strange new virtual hazards."
Ominous look at how our love of technology and "the Internet of things" have made society newly vulnerable. Read full book review >

SUSPICIOUS MINDS by Rob Brotherton
Released: Nov. 17, 2015

"A thoughtful, general analysis of conspiracy theories arguing that belief in secret plots is neither new nor unusual but a time-tested part of the human experience."
Combining historical anecdote and psychology research, Brotherton endeavors to explain how the human mind concocts conspiracy theories and the effects of these theories on society. Read full book review >
THE HIDDEN HALF OF NATURE by David R. Montgomery
Released: Nov. 16, 2015

"A must-read for avid gardeners, those interested in bolstering our precarious food supply, or anyone remotely concerned about their health and the soil under their feet."
A geologist and a biologist and environmental planner chronicle the transformation of their desolate Seattle backyard into a fertile garden and how they learned about the importance of beneficial microbes in their newly revived soil. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"Like Malcolm Gladwell, Ridley's taste for counterintuitive arguments often oversimplifies and ignores contradictory evidence, but he provides a wild ride, almost too thought-provoking to read for long stretches but difficult to put down."
Evolution, a phenomenon without an underlying plan that explains life's development, has convinced scientists, if not the general public, but authorities still debate whether Darwin's theory applies to human society. Veteran science writer Ridley (The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves, 2010) investigates.Read full book review >

Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"An endlessly surprising foray into the current mother of physics' many knotty mysteries, the solving of which may unveil the weirdness of quantum particles, black holes, and the essential unity of nature."
Two particles behave identically and instantaneously though separated by great space and with no force passing between them. How? Award-winning Scientific American contributing editor Musser (The Complete Idiot's Guide to String Theory, 2008) probes the riddle.Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"One of the most absorbing and empowering science histories to hit the shelves in recent years."
One of the world's most renowned and forward-thinking oncologists recounts 35 years of cancer research and tells us why we should be optimistic about the future. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"Another deeply felt entry on two divergent, yet ultimately compatible, ways of engaging the world and understanding reality."
The New Atheists have it all wrong, insists McGrath (Science and Religion/Oxford Univ.; C.S. Lewis—A Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet, 2013, etc.).Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"A scintillating popular account of the interplay between mathematical physics and astronomical observations."
Levenson (Science Writing/MIT; Newton and the Counterfeiter: The Unknown Detective Career of the World's Greatest Scientist, 2009, etc.) connects Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity to Isaac Newton's Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. In their day, each provided "a radical new picture of gravity" that ultimately depended on astronomical confirmation.Read full book review >
THE PLANET REMADE by Oliver Morton
Released: Nov. 3, 2015

"An important account of cutting-edge research that will fascinate serious readers and demand the attention of policymakers."
Economist briefings editor Morton (Eating the Sun: How Plants Power the Planet, 2008, etc.) offers a calm, rational discussion of deliberate technological interventions to cool the planet's climate system.Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2015

"The questions of where, when, and how our species evolved are fascinating, but this well-developed, technically challenging account will be tough going for those without a background in the subject matter."
Paleoanthropologist Begun (Anthropology/Univ. of Toronto; editor: A Companion to Paleoanthropology, 2013, etc.) claims that the great ape ancestors of humans evolved in Europe and moved to Africa, not the other way around.Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 2015

"What does it mean to be human? Henrich's book, a pleasure for the biologically and scientifically inclined, doesn't provide the definitive answer, but it does offer plenty of material for a definition."
As Henrich (Evolutionary Biology/Harvard Univ.; co-author: Why Humans Cooperate, 2007, etc.) notes, we humans are big-brained but not big enough, for "our kind are not that bright, at least not innately smart enough to explain the immense success of our species."Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Jason Gay
November 17, 2015

In the 1990s, copies of Richard Carlson’s Don't Sweat the Small Stuff (and its many sequels) were seemingly everywhere, giving readers either the confidence to prioritize their stresses or despondence over the slender volume’s not addressing their particular set of problems. While not the first book of its kind, it kicked open the door for an industry of self-help, worry-reduction advice guides. In his first book, Little Victories, Wall Street Journal sports columnist Gay takes less of a guru approach, though he has drawn an audience of readers appreciative of reportage that balances insights with a droll, self-deprecating outlook. He occasionally focuses his columns on “the Rules” (of Thanksgiving family touch football, the gym, the office holiday party, etc.), which started as a genial poke in the eye at the proliferation of self-help books and, over time, came to explore actual advice “both practical and ridiculous” and “neither perfect nor universal.” The author admirably combines those elements in every piece in the book. View video >