Science & Technology Reviews | May 1, 2012

starred review starSamuelsson, Marcus. Yes, Chef. Random. Jun. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780385342605. $26. COOKING

Among the many celebrity chefs who have written memoirs, Samuelsson, winner of the second season of Bravo’s Top Chef Masters, stands out for his ability to layer effectively the stories of his globe-spanning life and career with evocative descriptions of meals (as readers of food writing expect). Although he was born in a remote Ethiopian village, his mother died of tuberculosis when he was three years old, and he and his sister were adopted by the Samuelssons from Göteborg, Sweden. He spent his childhood playing soccer, fishing with his father, and watching his grandmother cook. Samuelsson’s passion and drive took him around the world to apprentice with the best. He finally landed in New York City, where he gained at Aquavit a coveted three-star New York Times review. VERDICT This distinctive and compelling memoir has all the elements of a good story: humor, travel, and a young individual overcoming obstacles via a passionate calling. Highly recommended for Samuelsson’s many fans and lovers of culinary memoirs. [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/11.]‚ Ann Wilberton, Pace Univ. Lib., Brooklyn, NY

starred review starDeSalle, Rob & Ian Tattersall. The Brain: Big Bangs, Behaviors, and Beliefs. Yale Univ. 2012. c.368p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780300175226. $29.95. SCI

Inspired by the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) exhibit in New York City, Brain: the Inside Story, this book guides readers through a remarkable exploration of evolution that incorporates physical and behavioral ancestral records, compares the human brain’s evolution to that of other mammals and organisms, and describes how sensory perception engages the nervous system, influencing brain development and evolution. In examining the brain’s molecular responses, reflexive reactions, emotional responses, and memory, DeSalle (curator, Sackler Inst. for Comparative Genomics, AMNH) and Tattersall (curator, emeritus, anthropology, AMNH) use clear examples from the exhibit as well as humor. They cover the impact of language and linguistic development, the visual system, the hominid’s use of tools, the development of complex social communities, and the importance of a diet enriched by animal fat and protein in enlarging the hominid brain. VERDICT Superbly written and well researched, this is a welcome addition to the popular neuroscience canon. It will appeal to those interested in human evolution, anthropology, brain evolution, and human consciousness. Highly recommended.‚ Candice A. Kail, Columbia Univ., New York

starred review starHeinrich, Bernd. Life Everlasting: The Animal Way of Death. Houghton Harcourt. Jun. 2012. c.256p. illus. ISBN 9780547752662. $25. SCI

Biologist Heinrich follows up Mind of the Raven: Investigations and Adventures with Wolf-Birds, an excellent study of wild birds, with this book. While the title conjures a religious tone, the work is actually a careful examination of biological recycling, the breaking down and reuse of the dead bodies of animals and plants. Through personal examination and research, Heinrich finds that We come from and return to incomparably amazing plants and animals. Even while we are alive, our wastes are recycled directly into beetles, grass, and trees, which are recycled further into bees and butterflies and on to flycatchers, finches, and hawks, and back into grass and on into deer, cows, goats, and us. He studies beetles, birds, worms, fungi, and deep-sea scavengers to see how biological materials find their way back into the web of life. He proposes that not all animals killed on the road be buried, since that flesh can be used productively by myriad creatures, and even questions the practice of permanent coffin-based human interments. VERDICTHeinrich writes with insight in entertaining prose that still manages to be scientific. Highly recommended. [See Prepub Alert, 12/16/11.]‚ John M. Kistler, Washington, PA

The following titles are reviewed in the May 1 print issue. Visit our Reviews Center (Beta) for the full reviews.


Greene, Wesley. Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way: 18th-Century Methods for Today’s Organic Gardeners. Rodale. 2012. photogs. index. ISBN 9781609611620. $30. GARDENING

Gustafson, Katherine. Change Comes to Dinner: How Vertical Farmers, Urban Growers, and Other Innovators Are Revolutionizing How America Eats.Griffin: St. Martin’s. May 2012. c.288p. ISBN 9780312577377. pap. $14.99. AGRI

Health & Medicine

Allen, John S. The Omnivorous Mind: Our Evolving Relationship with Food.Harvard Univ. May 2012. c.314p. photogs. index. ISBN 9780674055728. $25.95. HEALTH

Beer, Tomasz M., M.D., & Larry W. Axmaker. Cancer Clinical Trials: A Commonsense Guide to Experimental Cancer Therapies and Clinical Trials.DiaMedica. Jun. 2012. c.192p. index. ISBN 9780982321973. pap. $16.95. MED

Caulfield, Timothy. The Cure for Everything: Untangling Twisted Messages About Health, Fitness, and Happiness. Beacon Pr. 2012. c.256p. index. ISBN 9780807022054. $24.95. HEALTH

Hesketh, Robin. Betrayed by Nature: The War on Cancer. Palgrave Macmillan. May 2012. c.272p. illus. index. ISBN 9780230338487. $28. MED

Twenge, Jean M. The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant.Free Pr: S. & S. 2012. c.256p. index. ISBN 9781451620702. pap. $15. HEALTH

Home Economics

Katz, Sandor Ellix. The Art of Fermentation: An In-Depth Exploration of Essential Concepts and Processes from Around the World. Chelsea Green. Jun. 2012. c.496p. illus. ISBN 9781603582865. $39.95. COOKING

Willan, Anne with Mark Cherniavsky & Kyri Claflin.The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook.Univ.of California. 2012. c.344p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780520244009. $50. COOKING


Birkhead, Tim. Bird Sense: What It’s Like To Be a Bird. Walker. May 2012. c.288p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781802779663. $25. SCI

Coen, Enrico. Cells to Civilizations: Principles of Change That Shape Life.Princeton Univ. Jun. 2012. c.360p. illus. index. ISBN 9780691149677. $29.95. SCI

Fitz Simons, Peter. Mawson and the Ice Men of the Heroic Age: Scott, Shackleton and Amundsen.Random Australia, dist. by IPG. Jun. 2012. 738p. photogs. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781741666601. $39.95. SCI

Pyne, LydiaV. & Stephen J. Pyne. The Last Lost World: Ice Ages, Human Origins, and the Invention of the Pleistocene.Viking. Jun. 2012. c.320p. index. ISBN 9780670023639. $26.95. SCI

Sheldrick, Dame Daphne. Love, Life, and Elephants: An African Love Story.Farrar. May 2012. c.352p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780374104573. $27. NAT HIST

starred review starStott, Rebecca. Darwin’s Ghosts: The Secret History of Evolution.Spiegel & Grau. Jun. 2012. c.416p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781400069378. $27. SCI

Terry, Beth .Plastic Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too.Skyhorse, dist. by Norton.2012. c.272p. photogs. index.ISBN 9781616086244. $19.95. NAT HIST

Young, Jon.What the Robin Knows: How Birds Reveal the Secrets of the Natural World.Houghton Harcourt. May 2012. c.272p. illus. index. ISBN 9780547451251. $22 with audio CD. SCI