Science & Technology Book Reviews

Released: Feb. 15, 2016

"Whitehouse takes readers on a richly rewarding journey through space and time in this scientific travelogue."
In the spirit of Jules Verne's popular classic Journey to the Center of the Earth, Royal Astronomical Society fellow Whitehouse (The Sun: A Biography, 2005, etc.) describes how modern advances in geology provide insight into the evolution and dynamic structure of the Earth. Read full book review >
HAIR by Kurt Stenn
Released: Feb. 15, 2016

"A spirited, informative history of a fascinating fiber."
A hair-follicle scientist offers an edifying look at the biology, physiology, and history of hair. Read full book review >

Released: Feb. 16, 2016

"An enlightening account of past and present knowledge and the future possibilities of human heredity."
The information revolution in silicon gets the headlines, but a revolution in genetics has been running in parallel and will soon affect our lives even more profoundly. Plenty of authors are paying attention, but British physician and researcher Ryan (Metamorphosis: Unmasking the Mystery of How Life Transforms, 2011, etc.) delivers an up-to-date history that will be definitive—at least for a few years.Read full book review >
THE TIDES OF MIND by David Gelernter
Released: Feb. 22, 2016

"Eschewing research in favor of literature and Freud, Gelernter delivers a personal, reasonable, nonscientific analysis of the mind."
Everyone agrees that computers do not employ reason; they compute. This harmony dissolves when the discussion turns to the future, where vastly more powerful machines will develop sentience and feelings—or not. Read full book review >
PANDEMIC by Sonia Shah
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"This is not fun reading, but it's necessary—one can only hope that it drives more effective surveillance and rapid response to tomorrow's plagues."
Vibrio cholerae was once a species of marine bacteria attached to some plankton in the coastal wetlands of the Bay of Bengal. In grim detail, science journalist Shah (The Fever: How Malaria Has Ruled Humankind for 500,000 Years, 2010, etc.) demonstrates how it became the global source of horrendous deaths and how the story of cholera is paradigmatic of how pandemics happen. Read full book review >

SMALL DATA by Martin Lindstrom
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"Lindstrom's uncanny ability to detect and decipher seemingly unrelated clues will inspire reporters and detectives as well as companies looking for ways to develop new products and ideas."
A leading marketing guru recounts his firsthand experiences investigating the lives of consumers to develop global branding strategies. Read full book review >
THE PERFECT BET by Adam Kucharski
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"Kucharski's book, which necessarily oversimplifies an extremely complex subject, is no cure for that ignorance, but gamblers and math buffs alike will enjoy it for its smart approach to real-world problems."
A lucid yet sophisticated look at the mathematics of probability as it's played out on gaming tables, arenas, and fields. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"Hatch ably reveals the shortcomings of medicine but is less successful in providing guidance for those trying to find their ways through the confusion."
An exploration of the uncertainty that lies at the heart of Western medicine. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"This is not light reading, but readers willing to pay close attention will come away with a deep understanding of an essential basis of life."
Robots read, talk, and beat grandmasters at chess, but, given legs, they can barely walk. How living creatures move turns out to be complicated but not dull, writes British biologist and science writer Wilkinson in this ingenious but not-dumbed-down history of life's 4-billion-year progress in getting from one place to another. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"An insider's cheerful, energetic examination of an industry that has changed dramatically in the last decade."
An account of the boom in oil and gas production in the United States. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 23, 2016

"Netizens and white-hat programmers will be familiar with Segal's arguments, but most policymakers will not—and they deserve wide discussion."
The director of the Council of Foreign Relations' cyberspace policy program warns that the days of the open Internet may be closing as the medium becomes increasingly lawless. Read full book review >
WHEN WE ARE NO MORE by Abby Smith Rumsey
Released: March 1, 2016

"Though the author's analysis stops short of cultural apocalypse, it does show how radically things have changed and why this is cause for concern."
An analysis of the significance of cultural memory and a warning about its fragility in the digital era. 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 >