Science & Technology Book Reviews

ENTERTAINMENT & SPORTS
Released: June 16, 2015

"A propulsive and fascinating portrait of the people who helped upend an industry and challenge how music and media are consumed."
A history of the music industry's reckoning with digital technology, the Internet, and the "pirate generation." Read full book review >
The Dance of the Moon by Pari Spolter
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Feb. 16, 2015

"A complex collection of lunar data that invites interpretation and consideration."
A book that attempts to explain the motion of the moon—a phenomenon that has baffled astronomers for quite some time. Read full book review >

APPLIED MINDS by Guru Madhavan
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Aug. 3, 2015

"Madhavan is a less engaging writer than Henry Petroski, who covers much the same ground, but he provides a readable survey for would-be engineers and those seeking to understand them."
Want to be an engineer? Then learn to think like one, especially by learning how to see structure where chaos abounds. Read full book review >
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 9, 2015

"Clynes makes a persuasive case for allowing gifted children the freedom and resources to pursue their interests."
Popular Science contributing editor Clynes (Music Festivals From Bach to Blues: A Travellers Guide, 1996, etc.) uses the story of Taylor Wilson—who, at age 14, became "one of only thirty-two individuals on the planet to build a working fusion reactor, a miniature sun on Earth"—to illustrate the potential for improving our educational system.Read full book review >
LIFE’S GREATEST SECRET by Matthew Cobb
HISTORY
Released: July 7, 2015

"The greatest milestone in 20th-century biology received an iconic account in Horace Freeland Judson's The Eighth Day of Creation (1979). Much has happened since that publication, and Cobb's gripping, insightful history, often from the mouths of the participants themselves, updates the story, bringing it all the way into the present."
Animal breeders have always known that "like breeds like," but no one, Charles Darwin included, knew why offspring resemble parents except, sometimes, when they don't. Cobb (Zoology/Univ. of Manchester; Eleven Days in August: The Liberation of Paris 1944, 2014, etc.) describes how they learned.Read full book review >

BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: March 24, 2015

"Less truly revelatory and more just a difference in tone and spirit than previous accounts."
A reframing of the biographical narrative of the late Apple visionary, from the perspectives of business journalists Schlender and Tetzeli and the associates of Jobs' they interviewed. Read full book review >
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Jan. 28, 2015

"A genuinely original position on a historically significant cultural issue."
A scientifically rigorous and philosophically challenging argument that digital media is not merely shaping culture, but also the very nature of the human brain. Read full book review >
THE ORDINARY SPACEMAN by Clayton C. Anderson
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 1, 2015

"A spaceman delivers an overlong chronicle of his adventures that may prove engaging to ardent space fans."
An astronaut's memoir from "a small-town boy from Nebraska—nothing special, just an ordinary American." Read full book review >
WHY INFORMATION GROWS by César Hidalgo
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: June 2, 2015

"Some readers, perhaps economists especially, will construe Hidalgo's widely allusive musings as dotty dispatches from Jonathan Swift's Laputa; others will delight in his novel, holistic take on the dismal science."
An interdisciplinary theorist, Hidalgo, the Macro Connections group leader at the MIT Media Lab, invites us to understand the economy in an entirely different way. Read full book review >
HUMANKIND by Alexander Harcourt
HISTORY
Released: June 15, 2015

"Homogenization is inevitable, but we are an extraordinarily varied species today, and Harcourt delivers an opinionated but always science-based account of how we got that way."
In his previous book, Harcourt (Emeritus, Anthropology/Univ. of California, Davis) wrote a definitive text on his specialty: Human Biogeography (2012). This book, directed at a popular audience, is a dense and often politically incorrect but lucid summary of everything you would want to know about human diversity.Read full book review >
THE VITAL QUESTION by Nick Lane
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: July 20, 2015

"Not necessarily for casual readers, but for the scientifically curious, a challenging book that presents ideas about the most intricate processes that link genes and energy."
An evolutionary biochemist argues that while single-cell life emerged early in Earth's 4-billion-year history, complex life arose only some 2 billion years ago as the result of a rare, even freakish, event. Read full book review >
THE WEATHER EXPERIMENT by Peter Moore
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 2, 2015

"Detailed and insightful, this book is as relevant as ever in this era of rapid climate change."
In 1800, no one had a clue about what controlled "the heavens," which made the unlikely science of meteorology one of the most remarkable accomplishments of the 19th century. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Fatima Bhutto
April 14, 2015

Set during the American invasion of Afghanistan, Fatima Bhutto’s debut novel The Shadow of the Crescent Moon begins and ends one rain-swept Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border. Three brothers meet for breakfast. Soon after, the eldest, Aman Erum, recently returned from America, hails a taxi to the local mosque. Sikandar, a doctor, drives to the hospital where he works, but must first stop to collect his troubled wife, who has not joined the family that morning. No one knows where Mina goes these days. But when, later in the morning, the two are taken hostage by members of the Taliban, Mina will prove to be stronger than anyone could have imagined. Our reviewer writes that The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is “a timely, earnest portrait of a family torn apart by the machinations of other people’s war games and desperately trying to survive.” View video >