Science & Technology Book Reviews

HISTORY
Released: Feb. 4, 2016

"A well-researched, well-documented, and highly readable account."
A history of the Hamitic hypothesis, from its origins in the story of Noah's disgraced son Ham in the book of Genesis to its presence in the Rwandan genocide of recent decades. Read full book review >
THE MOST WANTED MAN IN CHINA by Fang Lizhi
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A wonderfully crafted memoir, shimmering with intellectual honesty."
A dissident astrophysicist who died in 2012 offers rare, revealing glimpses inside the opaque Chinese communist system. 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 >
A CANCER IN THE FAMILY by Theodora Ross
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Highly recommended: an exceptionally well-organized, authoritative, and readable resource book."
A valuable resource for those wondering whether there is a chance that cancer runs in their family. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An optimistic and engagingly well-told life story that incorporates scientific investigation into its altruistic message."
A Stanford neurosurgeon and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education relates how to achieve lofty life goals by harnessing the power of both the brain and the heart. Read full book review >

HEARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE by John C. Havens
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An astute philosophical meditation on a major problem facing designers of advanced computers."
As artificial intelligence becomes increasingly essential to our lives, a steady stream of books is expressing delight or dismay. In this thoughtful addition to the genre, Mashable and Guardian contributing editor Havens warns that we have ignored an essential feature of machine thinking: its ethics.Read full book review >
THE INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE by Alec Ross
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"Discerning insights on approaching changes to our economic and social landscapes and solid advice on how we should navigate them."
From the former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a survey of technologies that will dominate the global economy in the coming decades. Read full book review >
DREAM CITIES by Wade Graham
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"Graham delivers an intriguing architectural history and an effective antidote to the excesses of urban renewal and city planning."
Garden designer and historian Graham (American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are, 2011, etc.) explores how modern cities were built on foundations made of the fantasies and utopian dreams of individual architects.Read full book review >
INVENTOLOGY by Pagan Kennedy
PSYCHOLOGY
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"A delightful account of how inventors do what they do."
A journalist delivers an enthusiastic overview of inventions and the researchers that study them. Read full book review >
THE MEANING OF SCIENCE by Tim Lewens
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"Readers seeking a more humane, more direct orientation would do well to dust off Jacob Bronowski's The Ascent of Man (1974), dated but still valuable."
What is science? In this sporadically interesting primer, Lewens (Philosophy of Science/Cambridge Univ.; Cultural Evolution: Conceptual Challenges, 2015, etc.) mostly answers by saying what science isn't. Read full book review >
THE POWER OF FIFTY BITS by Bob Nease
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

"Although each strategy is common-sensical in its own right, taken together, they form a thoughtful, easy-to-digest approach for individuals and organizations seeking to foster better choices."
Useful advice on how to act on your good intentions. Read full book review >
CURE by Jo Marchant
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Jan. 19, 2016

"A balanced, informative review of a controversial subject."
Marchant (The Shadow King: The Bizarre Afterlife of King Tut's Mummy, 2013 etc.) explores how traditional and alternative medicine overlap.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 >