Science & Technology Book Reviews

POWER AT GROUND ZERO by Lynne Sagalyn
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 9, 2016

"The narrative's sheer bulk will likely intimidate some readers, and that would be a shame, because Sagalyn has produced a definitive history and an urban studies classic."
A superbly qualified scholar thoroughly deconstructs the tortured story behind the rebuilding of the World Trade Center complex. Read full book review >
THE CURE FOR CATASTROPHE by Robert Muir-Wood
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"Readers will find it hard to stop reading this excellent book and will share the author's perhaps futile yearning that elected officials have the courage to pass inconvenient laws and spend the electorate's money to prevent disasters."
A fascinating examination of the "forensics of disasters." Read full book review >

WHAT THE LUCK? by Gary Smith
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"A welcome, widely applicable follow-up to the author's equally useful first book."
Another delightful addition to the stuff-you-think-you-know-that's-wrong genre, á la Freakonomics, Outliers, and The Black Swan. Read full book review >
ADHD NATION by Alan Schwarz
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"In this powerful, necessary book, Schwarz exposes the dirty secrets of the growing ADHD epidemic."
A troubling look at the systemic overdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a chilling analysis of the effect ADHD medications have on patients, especially children. Read full book review >
WEAPONS OF MATH DESTRUCTION by Cathy O'Neil
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"An unusually lucid and readable look at the daunting algorithms that govern so many aspects of our lives."
How ill-conceived algorithms now micromanage America's economy, from advertising to prisons. Read full book review >

SEVEN SKELETONS by Lydia Pyne
HISTORY
Released: Aug. 16, 2016

"Ian Tattersall's The Strange Case of the Rickety Cossack (2015) remains the best popular modern history of human evolution, but Pyne casts her net more widely, adding captivating accounts of how each discovery fascinated the mass media and entered literature and popular culture."
Describing human evolution through accounts of fossils that became media events might seem a publicity ploy, but science journalist Pyne (Institute for Historical Studies/Univ. of Texas; Bookshelf, 2016, etc.) pulls it off. Read full book review >
I CONTAIN MULTITUDES by Ed Yong
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

"An exceptionally informative, beautifully written book that will profoundly shift one's sense of self to that of symbiotic multitudes."
The microbiome is one of the most talked-about topics in modern science, but it's a complex and evolving field with important nuances often missed by the media. Atlantic science writer Yong refines the natural history of these microscopic wonders and breaks down the cutting-edge science that may soon result in revolutionary medical advances. Read full book review >
IDIOT BRAIN by Dean Burnett
PSYCHOLOGY
Released: July 26, 2016

"Burnett should give a TED talk. His book will appeal immensely to general readers and deserves a place on college reading lists."
A neuroscientist's irreverent guide to the brain. Read full book review >
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: July 12, 2016

"A book in which the author's fascinating, well-researched ideas regarding holistic health may presage a paradigm shift in medicine."
Fully 90 percent of human cells are microbial. This astonishing fact means that we are not merely human but a superorganism whose "microbiome" plays a major role in health and disease. Read full book review >
THE UNKNOWN UNIVERSE by Stuart Clark
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: July 5, 2016

"Since satisfying results have yet to turn up, Clark's book ends on a cliffhanger, but readers will be entirely pleased with the experience."
Updates on the universe continue to pour from the presses, but since new discoveries appear regularly, cosmology aficionados may read one every few years. They will be wise to read this latest from New Scientist contributor Clark (The Day Without Yesterday, 2013, etc.), a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. Read full book review >
RISE OF THE MACHINES by Thomas Rid
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: June 28, 2016

"Not a history of computers but an ingenious look at how brilliant and not-so-brilliant thinkers see—usually wrongly but with occasional prescience—the increasingly intimate melding of machines and humans."
A fascinating study of the "seductive power of the cybernetic mythos." Read full book review >
ECCENTRIC ORBITS by John Bloom
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: June 7, 2016

"A tour de force history of a star-crossed technological leap."
A spellbinding history of a massively impressive work of technology. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Jeff Chang
September 20, 2016

In the provocative essays in journalist Jeff Chang’s new book We Gon’ Be Alright, Chang takes an incisive and wide-ranging look at the recent tragedies and widespread protests that have shaken the country. Through deep reporting with key activists and thinkers, personal writing, and cultural criticism, We Gon’ Be Alright links #BlackLivesMatter to #OscarsSoWhite, Ferguson to Washington D.C., the Great Migration to resurgent nativism. Chang explores the rise and fall of the idea of “diversity,” the roots of student protest, changing ideas about Asian Americanness, and the impact of a century of racial separation in housing. “He implores readers to listen, act, and become involved with today’s activists, who offer ‘new ways to see our past and our present,’ ” our reviewer writes in a starred review. “A compelling and intellectually thought-provoking exploration of the quagmire of race relations.” View video >