Science & Technology Book Reviews

THE MOST WANTED MAN IN CHINA by Fang Lizhi
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"A wonderfully crafted memoir, shimmering with intellectual honesty."
A dissident astrophysicist who died in 2012 offers rare, revealing glimpses inside the opaque Chinese communist system. Read full book review >
LIGHT by Bruce Watson
HISTORY
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"An ingenious combination of science and art history."
The usual popular-science history of light begins with the ancient Greeks and peters out soon after Einstein, but this fine account by Smithsonian contributing writer Watson (Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 that Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy, 2010, etc.) paints with a broader brush.Read full book review >

A CANCER IN THE FAMILY by Theodora Ross
HEALTH & MEDICINE
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Highly recommended: an exceptionally well-organized, authoritative, and readable resource book."
A valuable resource for those wondering whether there is a chance that cancer runs in their family. Read full book review >
THE INDUSTRIES OF THE FUTURE by Alec Ross
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"Discerning insights on approaching changes to our economic and social landscapes and solid advice on how we should navigate them."
From the former Senior Advisor for Innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a survey of technologies that will dominate the global economy in the coming decades. Read full book review >
DREAM CITIES by Wade Graham
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"Graham delivers an intriguing architectural history and an effective antidote to the excesses of urban renewal and city planning."
Garden designer and historian Graham (American Eden: From Monticello to Central Park to our Backyards: What Our Gardens Tell Us About Who We Are, 2011, etc.) explores how modern cities were built on foundations made of the fantasies and utopian dreams of individual architects.Read full book review >

INVENTOLOGY by Pagan Kennedy
PSYCHOLOGY
Released: Jan. 26, 2016

"A delightful account of how inventors do what they do."
A journalist delivers an enthusiastic overview of inventions and the researchers that study them. 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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
THE LUCKY YEARS by David B. Agus
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Jan. 5, 2016

"Practical health information fortified with exciting news from the forefront of modern medical technology."
A pioneering oncologist explores the latest advancements in general medicine. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >