Social Sciences Book Reviews

HISTORY
Released: April 1, 2015

"To be read as both corrective and supplement to Foucault, Szasz, and Rieff. Often brilliant and always luminous and rewarding."
Far-ranging, illuminating study of minds gone awry across space and time. Read full book review >
TERMS OF SERVICE by Jacob Silverman
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
Released: March 17, 2015

"Intelligent, provocative and illuminating in the author's argument that social media companies must examine their ethics and find business models that don't depend on perpetual surveillance of customers."
Freelancer Silverman, a celebrated Jeopardy! champion and contributor to Slate, the Atlantic and other publications, debuts with a deep and disquieting plunge into digital culture.Read full book review >

OUR KIDS by Robert D. Putnam
CURRENT AFFAIRS
Released: March 10, 2015

"An insightful book that paints a disturbing picture of the collapse of the working class and the growth of an upper class that seems to be largely unaware of the other's precarious existence."
A political scientist calls attention to the widening class-based opportunity gap among young people in the United States. Read full book review >
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 >
Kirkus Interview
Fatima Bhutto
April 14, 2015

Set during the American invasion of Afghanistan, Fatima Bhutto’s debut novel The Shadow of the Crescent Moon begins and ends one rain-swept Friday morning in Mir Ali, a small town in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas close to the Afghan border. Three brothers meet for breakfast. Soon after, the eldest, Aman Erum, recently returned from America, hails a taxi to the local mosque. Sikandar, a doctor, drives to the hospital where he works, but must first stop to collect his troubled wife, who has not joined the family that morning. No one knows where Mina goes these days. But when, later in the morning, the two are taken hostage by members of the Taliban, Mina will prove to be stronger than anyone could have imagined. Our reviewer writes that The Shadow of the Crescent Moon is “a timely, earnest portrait of a family torn apart by the machinations of other people’s war games and desperately trying to survive.” View video >