Erickson, Laura & Jonathan Alderfer. Pocket Guide to the Birds of North America. National Geographic. Apr. 2013. 100p. maps. photogs. index. ISBN 9781426210440. pap. $11.95. NAT HIST
This pocket guide, compiled by Erickson (science editor, Cornell Lab of Ornithology; The Bird Watching Answer Book: Everything You Need To Know To Enjoy Birds in Your Backyard and Beyond) and Alderfer (National Geographic Bird-Watcher’s Bible: A Complete Treasury), includes 160 species found in North America, featuring photographs and paintings, a tiny range map, sidebars with key facts, and brief text with information on habitat, food, and voice, plus a thumbnail description. To further assist identification, the paintings are annotated, highlighting three or four salient features of each bird. Except for a three-page introduction and a short list of “Further Resources” that includes books, magazines, and websites, there is no supplementary material. There are over 700 species of birds to be found in North America, so this title is intended as an introduction. VERDICT Intentionally cursory, the book also manages to be authoritative and inviting. While far from exhaustive, it serves as a good starting point. An attractive book for beginners. Recommended.—Henry T. Armistead, formerly with Free Lib. of Philadelphia
Mouritsen, Ole G. Seaweeds: Edible, Available & Sustainable. Univ. of Chicago. May 2013. 272p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780226044361. $35. SCI
This comprehensive treatment of the historical, biological, nutritional, and industrial aspects of seaweeds draws attention to a neglected resource. Mouritsen (biophysics, Univ. of Southern Denmark; Sushi: Food for the Eye, the Body and the Soul) covers seaweed in the wild, its aquaculture, chemical composition, nutritional value, and uses in cosmetics, animal feed, and fertilizer. Numerous photos and drawings illustrate the different types of seaweed and their harvesting in various locations worldwide. A unique feature of this volume is its presentation of recipes showing how seaweed can be used in various dishes such as soups, salads, sauces, egg and vegetable dishes, breads, and desserts. Margin notes and sidebars appear throughout, and tables of the nutritional content of each variety of seaweed (red, brown, green, blue) are indeed a revelation. VERDICT A well-written presentation for the general reader of an underused resource, this volume fills a niche among seaweed cookbooks such as J. Gusman’s Vegetables from the Sea, specialized scientific treatises (C. Wiencke’s Seaweed Biology), and field guides to the seaweed of specific locales.—Judith B. Barnett, Univ. of Rhode Island Lib., Kingston
Sandlin, Lee. Storm Kings: The Untold History of America’s First Tornado Chasers. Pantheon. Mar. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780307378521. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307908162. SCI
Here Sandlin (Wicked River: The Mississippi When It Last Ran Wild) relates the history of meteorology and tornadoes in the United States from colonial times to the present. The subtitle is misleading: it’s not a history of tornado chasing but a history of American meteorological science, especially government and military research. Sandlin’s narrative style shows influences of James Michener, for he follows his subject through generations of change. The book traces the development of the U.S. Army’s Signal Corps and its contributions to tornado science. The author demonstrates that 19th-century meteorology was competitive, with scientists loudly airing their competing theories in the public arena. As people began to migrate into the tornado belt, the need for accurate forecasts increased, yet tornado science lagged until after World War II, when surplus radar units helped improve forecasting. The final chapter relates the author’s experiences in a recent tornado chase, creating a surreal and almost poetic conclusion. VERDICT This remarkable and gripping book will appeal to those studying the history of science, the U.S. military, and weather forecasting.—Jeffrey Beall, Univ. of Colorado, Denver Lib.
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The following titles are reviewed in the February 15 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.
Stewart, Amy. The Drunken Botanist: The Plants That Create the World’s Great Drinks. Algonquin. Mar. 2013. 400p. bibliog. illus. index. ISBN 9781616200466. $19.95. cooking
HEALTH & MEDICINE
McAuliffe, Jody. The Mythical Bill: A Neurological Memoir. Iowa Univ. Sightline. Mar. 2013. 164p. bibliog. photogs. ISBN 9781609381547. pap. $18. health
Fortnow, Lance. The Golden Ticket: P, NP and the Search for the Impossible. Princeton Univ. Apr. 2013. 176p. illus. index. ISBN 9780691156491. $26.95. MATH
Gerard, Philip. Down the Wild Cape Fear: A River Journey Through the Heart of North Carolina. Univ. of North Carolina. Mar. 2013. 304p. maps. photogs. index. ISBN 9781469602073. $30. NAT HIST
Shubin, Neil. The Universe Within: Discovering the Common History of Rocks, Planets, and People. Pantheon. 2013. 240p. illus. index. ISBN 9780307378439. $25.95; ebk. ISBN 9780307907868. SCI
Toomey, David. Weird Life: The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own. Norton. Feb. 2013. 288p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393071580. $25.95. SCI