Solid information, but bland, wan execution.

HOLLYWOOD SCIENCE

MOVIES, SCIENCE, AND THE END OF THE WORLD

Computers and rogue clones are unlikely to exterminate humanity, but an asteroid might.

Perkowitz (Physics/Emory Univ.; Universal Foam: From Cappuccino to the Cosmos, 2000, etc.) takes the measure of a cross section of Hollywood films that contain scientific content, pointing out what “movie science” gets right and, more frequently, wrong. The author evaluates films about alien life, natural disasters, genetic manipulation and artificial intelligence—the majority of the movies in question are in the science-fiction genre and are largely apocalyptic. Each chapter provides a plot summary of a handful of high-profile films, then presents the real-world possibilities suggested by those films. Perkowitz presents the information in an accessible manner, but the text feels like a high-school science lecture delivered by a teacher eager to engage students with pop-culture relevance. The author projects an obvious enthusiasm for movies, but little discernible critical facility. His objections to 2003’s ludicrous turkey The Core are based largely on the scientific gaffes, rather than the appalling quality of the writing, acting and directing. This perhaps explains his fondness for the egregiously terrible The Saint (1997), whose scientist-heroine, played by the comely Elizabeth Shue, apparently made quite a favorable impression on the author. The book is intermittently interesting: Cloning and robotics are almost always incorrectly portrayed, while cataclysmic stories of meteor collisions and plagues are frighteningly viable. Still, this material would have been better served by a long magazine article or a short documentary. The concluding chapter makes a few perfunctory points about the influence movies can wield—as children, writes the author, many scientists were inspired by sci-fi flicks—and the potential of film as an educational tool.

Solid information, but bland, wan execution.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-231-14280-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2007

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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