Science & Technology Book Reviews (page 166)

GROOMING, GOSSIP, AND THE EVOLUTION OF LANGUAGE by Robin Dunbar
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: March 1, 1997

"Where else could you learn that it takes a village to grow a neocortex or that, to reproduce the best genes, women network and men advertise?"
Fascinating theories and cogent insights into why and how we use language, as learned from our simian relatives. Read full book review >
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: March 1, 1997

"But Jourdain knows enough to keep us listening."
A layman's primer on the psychology and history of the human response to music. Read full book review >

THIS IS BIOLOGY by Ernst Mayr
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: March 1, 1997

"Faced with this didactic piece, let us hope that there is still more to come from Mayr—an autobiography or at least a glimpse of the life and times of one of biology's greats."
Here is the doyen of systematics/taxonomy—a biologist who has witnessed the major revolutions in the field in the 20th century. Read full book review >
THE HUNT FOR LIFE ON MARS by Donald Goldsmith
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Feb. 10, 1997

"His book will have a short but vigorous life, the best account available until new ones supersede it. (15 b&w photos, not seen) (First printing of 40,000; Book-of-the-Month Club/Quality Paperback Book Club selection)"
Goldsmith (who edited the 1991 PBS series on astronomy and wrote its companion volume, The Astronomers) reports on the biggest science story of 1996: NASA's claim to have discovered that life once existed on Mars. Read full book review >
ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

"But most of Virtuous Reality comes off as old material repackaged and peppered with some vituperative commentary. (illustrations, not seen)"
A preachy, uninspired tract on the technological, moral, and media changes in America, by Wired magazine's media critic. Read full book review >

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Feb. 1, 1997

"A solid, thoroughly enjoyable presentation of almost everything a layman might find useful about one of the strangest planets in our solar system."
Venus is sometimes described as Earth's twin planet; here's an up-to-date look at that world next door. Read full book review >
HUBBLE'S UNIVERSE by Simon Goodwin
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

"727, etc.), provides a preface."
Mars seen from the relatively close distance of 103 million kilometers; the stormy Great Red Spot above Jupiter's surface; a possible continent or sea spied through the smoggy haze that surrounds the moon Titan; a nebula with gaseous columns so dense and craggy they appear like a heavenly rock formation. Read full book review >
BLOOD AND WATER by Dan Kurzman
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

"Spellbinding and deeply sobering military history."
In history that reads like a great thriller, award-winning former Washington Post reporter Kurzman (Left to Die: The Tragedy of the USS Juneau, 1994, etc.) tells the story of the Allied effort to derail the Nazi quest to develop a nuclear bomb. Read full book review >
RACE AND HUMAN EVOLUTION by Milford Wolpoff
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

"Readers can rest assured that the last word has not been heard."
If science thrives on controversy, then this study is surely the latest blow from the ``multiregional evolutionary hypothesis'' corner, duking it out with the Out-of-Africa champions. Read full book review >
ISLANDS IN SPACE AND TIME by David G. Campbell
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Dec. 7, 1996

"All in all, a fine testimonial to the Nature Conservancy's ongoing work."
An information-dense, beautifully illustrated tour of ten endangered landscapes. Read full book review >
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Dec. 4, 1996

"A useful look behind the scenes of modern science, as told by one of the key players."
The Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) was one of the most successful scientific packages ever launched by NASA; here, the chief project scientist tells its story. Read full book review >
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Dec. 1, 1996

"Worth staying up for."
Some fine work here, mostly new, utilizing sleeplessness as a theme or starting point and comprising, the editors note, ``a catalog of experiences and a way of understanding a massive cultural phenomenon.'' While labeling insomnia a ``cultural phenomenon'' may overstate the case, literary agent Cheney and book editor Hubbert do have a point when they claim that the malady ``is so widespread among writers that it seems almost a prerequisite.'' They cite the well-known insomnia of such figures as Mark Twain, Vladimir Nabokov, and the Brontâs, although none of them are represented in this collection of essays and stories. F. Scott Fitzgerald's ``Sleeping and Waking'' (from The Crack-Up), one of the few older pieces, is as powerful now as it was in the 1930s. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Fernanda Santos
author of THE FIRE LINE
May 17, 2016

When a bolt of lightning ignited a hilltop in the sleepy town of Yarnell, Arizona, in June 2013, setting off a blaze that would grow into one of the deadliest fires in American history, the 20 men who made up the Granite Mountain Hotshots sprang into action. New York Times writer Fernanda Santos’ debut book The Fire Line is the story of the fire and the Hotshots’ attempts to extinguish it. An elite crew trained to combat the most challenging wildfires, the Hotshots were a ragtag family, crisscrossing the American West and wherever else the fires took them. There's Eric Marsh, their devoted and demanding superintendent who turned his own personal demons into lessons he used to mold, train and guide his crew; Jesse Steed, their captain, a former Marine, a beast on the fire line and a family man who wasn’t afraid to say “I love you” to the firemen he led; Andrew Ashcraft, a team leader still in his 20s who struggled to balance his love for his beautiful wife and four children and his passion for fighting wildfires. We see this band of brothers at work, at play and at home, until a fire that burned in their own backyards leads to a national tragedy. View video >