Science & Technology Book Reviews

CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: July 19, 2016

"The book reads like an extended game of Trivial Pursuit, featuring some who play very well and many more who play very poorly."
The story of the dumbing-down of the American brain, as we have all become increasingly dependent on letting our computers think for us. Read full book review >
HOW THE WORLD BREAKS by Stan Cox
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: July 12, 2016

"Though short on a clear thesis, the book is strong on examples of human adaptation in the face of catastrophe."
A frightening, from-the-trenches overview of "natural" and man-made disasters—and responses to them—across the globe. 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 GRID by Gretchen Bakke
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: July 12, 2016

"A lively analysis of the challenges renewables present to the production and distribution of electricity."
A primer on the challenges facing a power industry in transition. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: July 5, 2016

"A convincing argument that the most secure way to communicate is via snail mail."
The history of cyberespionage, combining "related stories like encryption and code-breaking [and] the rise of the computer industry and its complex relationship with the secret world." 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 >
THE TYRANNOSAUR CHRONICLES by David Hone
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: July 5, 2016

"Hone successfully integrates two equally fascinating stories: how our knowledge of these fabulous creatures was pieced together over time and what we can infer about them."
Our fascination with Tyrannosaurus rex, the aptly named king of the dinosaurs, has been fed by Jurassic Park and other films, but the reality is equally entrancing. Read full book review >
UNLATCHED by Jennifer Grayson
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: July 5, 2016

"Persuasive arguments backed by scientific research that clearly demonstrate the benefits of breast-feeding for as long as possible."
A new analysis of the controversy surrounding women breast-feeding their children. Read full book review >
ZIKA by Donald G. McNeil Jr.
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: July 5, 2016

"Credit McNeil for a succinct summary of Zika to date, but be forewarned: this is a fast-breaking story, and the last word has yet to come, including how Zika will affect the American population as it journeys north."
Frightening words on the Zika virus from a reliable source: a New York Times science reporter who has covered virulent global infections for decades. 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 >
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: June 14, 2016

"A thoughtful examination of the role of aging and death in supporting life."
An advancement of the challenging theory that, along with growth and puberty, aging also unfolds "on a schedule programmed into the regulatory portion of our DNA." 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
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 >