Science & Technology Book Reviews

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 >
WILD SEX by Carin Bondar
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: Aug. 1, 2016

"A fascinating peek into the intimate behavior of our animal cousins that provides new insight into the benefits of being human."
A lively exploration of "the nitty-gritty of the diverse sex life of animals." Read full book review >

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Aug. 9, 2016

"A highly thoughtful and entertaining treatment of a subject that merits serious consideration."
An internationally recognized leader in the field of childhood learning debunks the concept of "good parenting." 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 >
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 >

WASTING TIME ON THE INTERNET by Kenneth Goldsmith
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Aug. 23, 2016

"Goldsmith outlines a future that perhaps offers a hope we can embrace, since a retreat seems impossible."
A persuasive argument about how what conventional wisdom dismisses as "wasting time" is actually time well spent. 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 >
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 >
UTOPIA IS CREEPY by Nicholas Carr
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: Sept. 6, 2016

"A collection that reminds us that critical thinking is the best way to view the mixed blessings of rampant technology. A treat for Carr fans."
Popular technology guru Carr (The Glass Cage: Automation and Us, 2014, etc.) offers a skeptical chronicle of the wonders of the digital revolution. 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 >
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 >
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Sept. 13, 2016

"A charming natural history of eclipses and a guide to witnessing the awe-inspiring event yourself."
Solar and lunar eclipses have played an integral role in unlocking some of the biggest mysteries of the universe and are now revered for their celestial beauty; but for our ancestors, eclipses were seen as portending doom. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Nancy Isenberg
author of WHITE TRASH
July 19, 2016

Poor Americans have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement. They were alternately known as “waste people,” “offals,” “rubbish,” “lazy lubbers,” and “crackers.” By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called “clay eaters” and “sandhillers,” known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds. Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over 400 years, in White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, Nancy Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. “A riveting thesis supported by staggering research,” our reviewer writes in a starred review. View video >