Social Sciences Book Reviews (page 2)

FRAGRANT by Mandy Aftel
HISTORY
Released: Oct. 16, 2014

"Evocative, heady and overflowing with history and lore."
The history and mystery of the power of scent. Read full book review >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 23, 2014

"Comprehensive research underlies this compelling, highly emotional and profoundly important story."
A novelist and Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter explores with nearly Javert-ian persistence one of the early cases of traffic fatalities caused by texting while driving.
Read full book review >

THE UNDERGROUND GIRLS OF KABUL by Jenny Nordberg
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Sept. 16, 2014

"An intelligent and timely exploration into contemporary Afghanistan."
A journalist's fascinating study of the Afghan subculture of young girls raised to be boys. Read full book review >
DATACLYSM by Christian Rudder
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: Sept. 9, 2014

"Demographers, entrepreneurs, students of history and sociology, and ordinary citizens alike will find plenty of provocations and, yes, much data in Rudder's well-argued, revealing pages."
Are you a racist? Plainer-looking than you might wish? Inclined to vote left? Big data knows—and it's talking. Read full book review >
SOCIAL SCIENCES
Released: Sept. 2, 2014

"In this fascinating look at the dazzling if suffocating domain of digital information gathering, Tanner concludes that it is returning us to a world of farms and villages, where intimate details of everyone's lives were public knowledge."
Since the 1990s, the avalanche of personal information we voluntarily reveal and which computers easily harvest has endlessly intrigued observers, the latest being Tanner, a fellow at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. The author delivers the obligatory announcement that "big data" means the death of privacy, but not before backing it with plenty of entertaining evidence. Read full book review >

CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Aug. 12, 2014

"No one does scandal quite like the British; this one is a real doozy that deserves Davies' entertaining, no-stone-unturned eagle eyes."
The inside—deeply inside—account by the investigative writer who broke the British phone-hacking scandal wide open. Read full book review >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Aug. 5, 2014

"Intensely immersive reading."
A journalist tells the absorbing story of how wartime experiences shaped the lives and friendships of three female soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Read full book review >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: Aug. 4, 2014

"A powerful, rational guidebook to creating genuinely effective education, written in a manner useful not just for schoolteachers, but everyone involved in the care of children."
Ideas from a former principal on what makes for an exceptional teacher. Read full book review >
UNRULY PLACES by Alastair Bonnett
NATURE & TRAVEL
Released: July 8, 2014

"A scintillating poke to our geographical imaginations."
A wonderful collection of a few dozen geographical enchantments, places that defy expectations and may disturb and disorient yet rekindle the romanticism of exploration and the meaning of place. Read full book review >
GIVE <i>WAR AND PEACE</i> A CHANCE by Andrew D. Kaufman
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: May 20, 2014

"Kaufman's enticing invitation may well persuade readers to finally dive into one of the world's most acclaimed—and daunting—novels."
At 1,500 pages, with a cast of nearly 600 characters, the book Henry James called a "loose baggy monster" looms as an intimidating project. But Kaufman (Literature/Univ. of Virginia; Understanding Tolstoy, 2011, etc.) thinks reading it is worth the effort: "Times are tough, anxiety and fear are pervasive, and people are searching for answers to questions big and small." Read full book review >
WEED LAND by Peter Hecht
HISTORY
Released: May 2, 2014

"A comprehensive and compelling report on the weed wars still raging across the country."
Sacramento Bee senior writer Hecht chronicles how "reefer madness" divided the Golden State's pot-loving community and forever changed America's attitudes toward marijuana. Read full book review >
YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL by David McCullough Jr.
ESSAYS & ANTHOLOGIES
Released: May 1, 2014

"Neither sage nor curmudgeon, McCullough is a thoughtful pre-Socratic without a schadenfreude-soaked bone in his body."
The cult of exceptionalism, like celebrity worship, is draining us of our humanity and joy, suggests high school teacher McCullough, whose expertise comes from having nearly three decades of teaching experience and four children of his own. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Gabrielle Zevin
March 3, 2015

A. J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. He lives alone, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. But when a mysterious package appears at the bookstore, its unexpected arrival gives Fikry the chance to make his life over—and see everything anew. “Zevin writes characters who grow and prosper,” our reviewer writes, “in a narrative that is sometimes sentimental, sometimes funny, sometimes true to life and always entertaining.” View video >