Social Sciences Book Reviews

IS SHAME NECESSARY? by Jennifer Jacquet
SOCIAL SCIENCES
Released: Feb. 17, 2015

"A sharp and surprising dissertation that puts the many facets of shame in a whole new light."
An intellectually stimulating discussion of shame and its enduring place in the digital age. Read full book review >
THE ITALIANS by John Hooper
HISTORY
Released: Jan. 29, 2015

"A thoroughly researched, well-written, ageless narrative of a fascinating people."
A compact but comprehensive study of the people of Italy. 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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: April 22, 2014

"First-rate reporting informs this thrilling narrative of hope."
A New York Times reporter delivers a gripping narrative about the recent court battles involving California's Proposition 8 (which outlawed gay marriage) and the Defense of Marriage Act. Read full book review >
A BIGGER PRIZE by Margaret Heffernan
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS
Released: April 8, 2014

"The step-by-step accumulation of argument and evidence is overwhelming in its thoroughness and attention to detail."
Entrepreneur Heffernan (Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, 2011, etc.) systematically deconstructs the social myths associated with hypercompetitiveness while providing a formidable case about how counterproductive, and even perverse, it can be. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: March 11, 2014

"A thorough and deeply troubling analysis of a quiet but ominous threat to democracy."
Mettler (Government/Cornell Univ.; The Submerged State:How Invisible Government Policies Undermine American Democracy, 2011, etc.) delivers a broadside to for-profit universities and the politics that enrich them. Read full book review >
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: March 4, 2014

"Goldstein's bright, ingenious philosophical romp makes Plato not only relevant to our times, but palpably alive."
Plato returns to 21st-century America in this witty, inventive, genre-bending work by MacArthur Fellow Goldstein (36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction, 2010, etc.). 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 >