Science & Technology Book Reviews (page 9)

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 >
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 16, 2016

"A must-read for anyone interested in the early history of space exploration."
Spaceflight didn't start with Neil Armstrong, or even with Sputnik, as this well-researched account of the early days of rocketry makes clear.Read full book review >
WHY WE SNAP by R. Douglas Fields
PSYCHOLOGY
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"The interplay between conscious and unconscious cognition is not unfamiliar territory, as readers of Daniel Kahneman or Malcolm Gladwell will recognize, but Fields' personal experience adds a fresh viewpoint to an intriguing subject."
A neuroscientist asks, "what triggers [our] deadly switch for violence and killing?" Read full book review >

PSYCHOLOGY
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A fine exploration of the brain's ability to draw the story of our life, from experience and from thin air."
A neurologist tours current research on the mysteries of perception, habit, learning, memory, and language—our very selfhood and identity—and their underlying brain mechanics. Read full book review >
THE IDEALIST by Justin Peters
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"A hard look at Internet culture and the wunderkind it failed in the end."
The spectacular life and tragic downfall of an American iconoclast. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 12, 2016

"Nelson adds another chapter to the somber history of injustice toward African-Americans, but it is one in which science is enriching lives by forging new identities and connections to ancestral homelands."
Genealogical studies by black Americans have grown in popularity once companies were able to provide DNA analyses "direct to consumers." Has it helped civil rights? Social justice? Legal claims? Yes and no, writes Nelson (Sociology and Gender Studies/Columbia Univ.; Body and Soul: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Medical Discrimination, 2011, etc.) in this meticulously detailed study.Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 11, 2016

"An unusual and vastly entertaining journey into the world of mysterious plant life as experienced by a gifted nature writer."
A prolific and talented British nature writer explores 40 plant species and how they have influenced the human imagination over the centuries. Read full book review >
A CRUDE LOOK AT THE WHOLE by John H. Miller
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Jan. 5, 2016

"A valuable companion to confusion, though it's not without a few tangles of its own."
The world is complicated and getting more so. Or, as Miller (Economics and Social Sciences/Carnegie Mellon Univ.; co-author: Complex Adaptive Systems, 2007) puts it, more cheerfully, "complexity abounds."Read full book review >
COSMOSAPIENS by John Hands
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 5, 2016

"A compendious work that will intrigue serious readers; others may find it overlong and too comprehensive."
Hands has spent the last 10 years assembling a critical overview of scientific orthodoxy in an attempt to answer the fundamental questions "what are we?" and "why are we here?" Read full book review >
THE BOY WHO COULD CHANGE THE WORLD by Aaron Swartz
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Jan. 5, 2016

"An important record of forward-looking thought cut short."
Collected writings of Aaron Swartz (1986-2013), prescient programmer and technology critic. 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 >