Francis, Richard C. Domesticated: Evolution in a Man-Made World. Norton. May 2015. 400p. illus. notes. ISBN 9780393064605. $27.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393246513. SCI
This engaging book on the domestication of mammals by science journalist Francis (Epigenetics) is a pleasing mix of research in history, archaeology, genetics, behavior, developmental biology, and psychology. The history and genetics of the domestication of dogs, cats, horses, sheep, goats, cattle, and pigs all contribute to our understanding of the changes brought about in animals by man-made environments. Some of the creatures covered—camels, rodents, ferrets, and reindeer—might not be the usual mammals people consider when they think of domestication, but theirs are compelling stories. Raccoons and foxes are included in the book to provide information on intermediary steps in domestication. The final chapters describing the theory of self-domestication of Homo sapiens are exciting. While other books cover some species and some aspects of domestication, this book provides up-to-date information on many mammals and includes genetic studies of changes in mammal genomes. While a degree of understanding of genetics is assumed, extensive notes and references allow the reader to find the science behind the theories. VERDICT An excellent book for those interested in human-animal interactions, domestication, or evolution.
Scott-Moncrieff, Christina. Complete Detox Workbook: 2-Day, 9-Day and 30-Day Makeovers To Cleanse and Revitalize Your Life. Collins & Brown. Apr. 2015. 128p. illus. index. ISBN 9781910231357. pap. $14.95; ebk. ISBN 9781910231425. HEALTH
Detox has become a very fashionable adjunct to weight-loss programs. The theory is that toxins from pollution, food additives, drugs such as nicotine and caffeine, and the wide range of artificial materials replacing natural ones such as wool, cotton, and woods are detrimental to our health. Early detox programs involved colon cleansing, which is always unpleasant and can be dangerous. This title is an outstanding example of the new wave of cleansing. It recommends easing off tobacco, alcohol, and processed foods and replacing them with organic fruits and vegetables, plenty of water (preferably filtered), regular exercise, and relaxation techniques. Scott-Moncrieff (Overcoming Allergies; Natural Health at 50+) offers three versions of her program: two-day, nine-day, and 30-day makeovers. It is much less daunting to begin with a short-term commitment and ease into the regimen. The book is beautifully illustrated and maintains an upbeat tone that makes the program more enjoyable by emphasizing the benefits of the changes instead of harping on the dreadful results of bad habits. The lack of recipes will disappoint some readers, but the information about food values is excellent. VERDICT This well-crafted work will appeal to almost everyone who’s interested in developing a healthier lifestyle
Sietsema, Robert (text) & James Gulliver Hancock (illus.). New York in a Dozen Dishes. Houghton Harcourt. May 2015. 288p. index. ISBN 9780544454316. $22; ebk. ISBN 9780544453630. COOKING
There are canonical New York City dishes (its pizza and pastrami sandwiches, for example) and those that have more recently nudged city dining in newer directions, such as pho. Sietsema, longtime critic for the Village Voice, currently senior critic at the website Eater New York, examines the history, importance, and iterations of a baker’s dozen foodstuffs. For each the author proposes that while the item may not necessarily have originated in Gotham, it has left an indelible mark on what New Yorkers eat. Not every reader will share his taste for organ meats or cuy (Ecuadorian-style guinea pig). Still, his writing skillfully navigates history and geography, encompassing lesser-known neighborhoods and foreign excursions, such as a trip to West Africa. He offers restaurant recommendations and a recipe in each chapter. This rollicking read can be approached start to finish or by dipping into whatever dish sounds most compelling. VERDICT A great melding of culinary history and dining guidance from a terrific writer. Recommended where books on food and on New York City are popular.
Birds and bees solutions
Graham, Chris. The Chicken Keeper’s Problem Solver: 100 Common Problems Explored and Explained. Quarry: Quarto. 2015. 224p. photos. index. ISBN 9781631590344. pap. $19.99. ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Covering 100 common problems in ten thematic chapters, Graham (Wisdom for Hen Keepers) has produced the essential guide for all things chicken husbandry. A rich array of full-color photographs, engaging illustrations, a glossary, an index, and other great design details make this book easy to use and easy on the eyes, although chapters on parasites and rodents (and a plethora of similar invading pests) are not for the faint of heart. Lively explanations, contextual information and helpful, straightforward advice make this a great choice for backyard enthusiasts and a potentially sobering read for those planning this pursuit. Housing, breed selection, care, and feeding all require serious attention; this sort of access to specialized knowledge isn’t so common these days. While much of this territory is covered in classics such as Gail Damerow’s Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens, Graham’s approach and treatment are markedly different. For many readers this format will be more comfortable to navigate. Overall, this manual is a thoughtfully designed, convenient reference and can be a huge boon for chicken keepers and their broods. VERDICT A great addition for any chicken keeper’s shelf.
Tew, James E. The Beekeeper’s Problem Solver: 100 Common Problems Explored and Explained. Quarry: Quarto. 2015. 224p. photos. index. ISBN 9781631590351. pap. $19.99. ANIMAL HUSBANDRY
Many introductory works on beekeeping discuss some of the issues that may surface with a new hive, but this single volume covers the 100 most general beekeeping problems and their solutions. Tew, an entomologist and consulting professor at Auburn University in Alabama, bee blogger (onetew.com), and author (Wisdom for Beekeepers), has worked with bees for almost 40 years and draws from both personal and professional experience. Chapters are divided into basic areas such as equipment, queen production, pest control, and producing honey. Within each section, issues are laid out as questions in lay terms, such as “I don’t know where to get my first bees,” “Wasps are attacking the bees,” and “Honey has granulated in the comb.” The author accompanies each problem with a cause and solution; full-color photographs and a glossary provide additional information. VERDICT Newer beekeepers looking for a quick reference guide will find that this book covers most common problems. Experienced beekeepers may want more specific works.
Several new books have been published in time for the 60th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s death.
Canales, Jimena. The Physicist and the Philosopher: Einstein, Bergson, and the Debate That Changed Our Understanding of Time. Princeton Univ. Jun. 2015. 464p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780691165349. $35. SCI
Canales, who has written about time before in A Tenth of a Second: A History, takes an absorbing approach to a scientific history. Beginning with scientist Albert Einstein’s and philosopher Henri Bergson’s April 6, 1922, debate at the Société Française de Philosophie that turned acrimonious, the author radiates the narrative forward and backward to discuss how humankind’s perception of time changed in the 20th century. The well-researched text brings in a number of famous and other personages, including Bertrand Russell, Alfred North Whitehead, Herbert Dingle, and Jacque Maritain, and where they stood on the Einstein/Bergson conflict, which became a key representation of how science and philosophy were in opposition over the meanings of time, space, and life. This dualism had a worldwide impact on education and culture, and only recently, especially in quantum physics, have we seen objectivity and subjectivity as points on a continuum not inherently in conflict. VERDICT This fascinating, scholarly, readable look at physics and epistemology will interest readers of science, history, philosophy, and biography.
Gimbel, Steven. Einstein: His Space and Times. Yale Univ. (Jewish Lives). Apr. 2015. 216p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780300196719. $25. SCI
Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity and work as a scientist from an early age is world renowned. It is hard to imagine a biography that could put a new face on such a well-known figure, but this one does. While offering accessible scientific, and theoretical explanations, Gimbel provides enough information for the reader to understand the included principles without getting too into the details. The author couches all of this within a picture of Einstein’s faith, something not emphasized in similar works. While it provides a look at Einstein’s spirituality, the biography does not overpower the reader with it, giving ample time to personal relationships and professional and political aspects of the subject’s life. VERDICT This title will appeal to both scientists and nonscientists who want an overview of Einstein’s life (1879–1955). Not a science or a religious text, Gimbel’s book will give readers a well-rounded look at a very famous scientific figure.
Hillman, Bruce & others. The Man Who Stalked Einstein: How Nazi Scientist Philipp Lenard Changed the Course of History. Lyons: Globe Pequot. Apr. 2015. 272p. bibliog. ISBN 9781493010011. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9781493015696. SCI
In this title, the differences between theoretical and experimental physics are embodied respectively by Einstein and Philipp Lenard, a virulently anti-Semitic German physicist who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1905. Hillman (radiology, Univ. of Virginia Sch. of Medicine) describes how, unable to prove the existence of the long-popular notion of “ether,” in debt, and jealous of the attention paid Einstein, Lenard abandoned his early admiration of the younger man and escalated his ad hominem attacks on his fellow Nobel winner for more than 20 years. The book relies in part on original works in German, thanks to Birgit Ertl-Wagner and Bernd C. Wagner’s translations for Hillman, adding a new perspective to the study of Einstein. It includes fascinating biographical information on both men, though those passages suffer a bit from current pop references and dramatic personifications (e.g. “fevered imaginings”). VERDICT Hillman has succeeded in his goal to “write a history…that read(s) like a novel,” opening at the scene of a Nazi book burning. This very accessible popular science book will engage readers interested in physics, World War II, history, and biography.
Borel, Brooke. Infested: How the Bed Bug Infiltrated Our Bedrooms and Took Over the World. Univ. of Chicago. Apr. 2015. 224p. photos. bibliog. ISBN 9780226041933. $26; ebk. ISBN 9780226042091. SCI
Conquering fear of bed bugs just takes knowledge, according to Borel (Popular Science’s Our Modern Plagues blog). This book is two stories. The author’s personal tale of delving into the world of Cimex lectularius to transform her bed bug phobia into “begrudging respect” frames the second story: what science knows about these creatures and their relationship to humans. While not a technical volume, Borel’s work thoroughly explains how scientists know what they do and also admits what experts don’t know. The author describes how genetic mutations lead to pesticide resistance and DDT’s molecular structure’s meaning. She takes readers into fieldwork sites, laboratories, pest control conventions, and insectaries. Black-and-white photos work seamlessly with the text, and the reference list is extensive, though those who want more science should also search BIOSIS, Agricola, and/or Google Scholar. Robert L. Usinger’s Monograph of Cimicidae, the “bed bug Bible,” is available in many larger libraries. For more insect biographies, Marion Copeland’s Cockroach and Andrew Nikiforuk’s Empire of the Beetle are solid choices. VERDICT For anyone who wants to replace their fear of bed bugs with knowledge.
Jones, Richard. House Guests, House Pests: A Natural History of Animals in the Home. Bloomsbury USA. Apr. 2015. 256p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781472906236. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781472906243. NAT HIST
Jones (fellow, Royal Entomological Society and former president, British Entomological Society; Mosquito), explores our relationship with nonhuman housemates. In approachable, entertaining language and chapters divided by creatures’ lifeways, the author explains what commensals eat, where they nest, how they developed a relationship to humans, and how an occasional nuisance becomes a pest. He relates how scientists look for nearest wild relatives and possible ancestral diets. There are plentiful references, an identification guide, and stipple illustrations that rival macros. Alas, Jones did not adapt his work for American readers. This means there is no coverage of fire ants and short shrift for crazy ants and naming differences, such as calling drugstore beetles biscuit beetles. Jones also omits Cooperative Extension’s pest identification and advice. This title complements Amy Stewart’s Wicked Bugs and Kelsi Nagy and Phillip David Johnson’s Trash Animals. VERDICT Although not the intended audience, curious U.S. readers can still enjoy this gentle perspective on creatures that share our sacred space.
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Booth, Louise. When Fraser Met Billy: An Autistic Boy, a Rescue Cat, and the Transformative Power of Animal Connections. Atria. Apr. 2015. 320p. ISBN 9781476797298. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781476797304. PETS
Clancy, Judith (text) & Ben Simmons (photos). Kyoto Gardens: Masterworks of the Japanese Gardener’s Art. Tuttle. 2015. 144p. maps. bibliog. ISBN 9784805313213. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781462915033. GARDENING
Grow All You Can Eat in Three Square Feet. DK. 2015. 256p. photos. index. ISBN 9781465429803. pap. $22.95. GARDENING
Howcroft, Heidi (text) & Marianne Majerus (photos). First Ladies of Gardening: Designers, Dreamers and Divas. Frances Lincoln. 2015. 176p. bibliog. ISBN 9780711236431. $29.99. GARDENING
Pierson, Melissa Holbrook. The Secret History of Kindness: Learning from How Dogs Learn. Norton. Apr. 2015. 256p. notes. ISBN 9780393066197. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393247237. PETS
Health & Medicine
Barbour, Alan G. Lyme Disease: Why It’s Spreading, How It Makes You Sick, and What To Do About It. Johns Hopkins. Apr. 2015. 320p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9781421417202. $45; pap. ISBN 9781421417219. $22.95; ebk. ISBN 9781421417226. HEALTH
Buettner, Dan. The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People. National Geographic. Apr. 2015. 288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781426211928. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781426211935. HEALTH
Fishbaugh, Angela Schmidt. Angela’s Decision: Outsmarting My Cancer Genes and Determining My Fate. Skyhorse. Apr. 2015. 224p. photos. ISBN 9781632204738. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9781632207401. HEALTH
Hamilton, Alissa. Got Milked? The Great Dairy Deception and Why You’ll Thrive Without Milk. Morrow. Apr. 2015. 336p. index. ISBN 9780062362056. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062362100. HEALTH
Bermensolo, Nicole with Elizabeth Gunnison Dunn. Kyotofu: Uniquely Delicious Japanese Desserts. Running Pr. Apr. 2015. 176p. photos. index. ISBN 9780762453979. $25. COOKING
Baldwin, Melinda. Making “Nature”: The History of a Scientific Journal. Univ. of Chicago. Jun. 2015. 328p. photos. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780226261454. $45; ebk. ISBN 9780226261591. SCI
Bauer, Susan Wise. The Story of Science: From the Writings of Aristotle to the Big Bang Theory. Norton. May 2015. 320p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780393243260. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780393243277. SCI
Dean, Margaret Lazarus. Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight. Graywolf. May 2015. 320p. bibliog. ISBN 9781555977092. pap. $16; ebk. ISBN 9781555973414. SCI
Essig, Mark. Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig. Basic. May 2015. 288p. photos. notes. index. ISBN 9780465052745. $27.99; ebk. ISBN 9780465040681. SCI
Field, Dawn & Neil Davies. Biocode: The New Age of Genomics. Oxford Univ. May 2015. 206p. illus. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780199687756. $29.95; ebk. ISBN 9780191511578. SCI
Heilig, Markus. The Thirteenth Step: Addiction in the Age of Brain Science. Columbia Univ. May 2015. 320p. notes. ISBN 9780231172363. $29.95. SCI