Science & Technology Reviews | November 1, 2012

starred review star Conway, Gordon. One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World? Comstock: Cornell Univ. 2012. c.456p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780801451331. $75; pap. ISBN 9780801478024. $24.95. AGRI

This is a revised edition of Conway’s (international development, Imperial Coll. London) 1997 book, A Doubly Green Revolution: Food for All in the Twenty-First Century. He argued there for a more productive, fair, and efficient food production system to combat hunger and malnutrition, one that is environmentally sound and that starts with the needs of the poor. So what’s changed in 15 years? Sadly, the number of the world’s hungry and malnourished is growing, the food price spikes like those of 2007–08 threaten to recur, and the realities of climate change demand solutions. On the plus side, technical advances in biotechnology and ecology promise more resilient agriculture with safer crop yield gains. Conway stresses that his book proposes only a theory of change, “not a recipe,” but he demonstrates pragmatic approaches to thorny issues like rural poverty, rising meat consumption, and the agricultural conundrum of getting more out of less. VERDICT The author’s subject mastery is evident on almost every page. His use of inset anecdotes, many graphs, chapter introductions, and summaries all help to make a complex matter more comprehensible. This work will no doubt become the standard text in international agricultural development courses.—R. Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ontario

Slobodchikoff, Con. Chasing Doctor Dolittle: Learning the Language of Animals. St. Martin’s. Nov. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9780312611798. $25.99. SCI

Slobodchikoff (biology, Northern Arizona Univ.) came to this country as a five year old after an early childhood in Shanghai with his Russian-speaking parents. Owing to a series of missteps by his teachers, his lack of English was misinterpreted as a latent stutter, which forced him into years of unnecessary speech-correction classes. This early exposure to the importance of language acquisition left him not only curious about how language is acquired, but also with an innate, deep understanding of the necessity of language and communication. Here he seamlessly intersperses wry, fascinating animal examples of language use and style with examples of human interaction that illuminate the complexity of animal communication. VERDICT Focusing on important issues such as eating, danger, love, protection, and initial interactions, Slobodchikoff puts the world of animal communication into a realm that readers can readily understand, appreciate, and marvel at. Highly recommended for general readers interested in the complexities of language across species.—Susan E. Brazer, Salisbury Univ. Lib., MD

starred review star Souder, William. On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson. Crown. 2012. c.528p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307462206. $30. SCI

Published on the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring, Pulitzer Prize finalist Souder (Under a Wild Sky: John James Audubon and the Making of The Birds of America) explores the life and works of Rachel Carson through meticulous research on her writings, relationships, and struggles. Portrayed alternately as full of stamina and fragile, Carson is depicted as a smart, hardworking woman who was not afraid of success and often fought her way into the limelight more aggressively than her introverted personality might have indicated. More than a biography of Carson, this book is a biography of oceanography, of naturalism and conservation, and of science writing. As Carson did in her own work, Souder presents the development of modern science writing as a living thing, evolving and changing in relation to what it encounters. VERDICT At a time when genetic modification of foods remains politically charged and scientifically debatable, the story of Silent Spring and its author is valuable and relevant, and for those who have celebrated Carson’s work, this book is a treat full of big ideas and little details that satisfy and inspire. Fans of Carson, as well as of science writers like Aldo Leopold and Steven Jay Gould, will devour this book. As an achievement in biography and a celebration of science writing, it is strongly recommended.—Jaime Hammond, Naugatuck Valley Community Coll. Lib., Waterbury, CT

The following titles are reviewed in the November 1 print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Peeke, Pam, M.D. with Mariska Van Aalst. The Hunger Fix: The Three-Stage Detox and Recovery Plan for Overeating and Food Addiction. Rodale. 2012. c.304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781609614522. $26.99. HEALTH

Wallace, Daniel J., M.D. The Lupus Book: A Guide for Patients and Their Families. Oxford Univ. Nov. 2012. c.304p. ISBN 9780199929405. $29.95. MED


Pandl, Julia. Memoir of the Sunday Brunch. Algonquin. Nov. 2012. c.272p. ISBN 9781616201722. pap. $13.95. HOME ECON


Druckman, Charlotte. Skirt Steak: Women Chefs on Standing the Heat and Staying in the Kitchen. Chronicle. Nov. 2012. 320p. ISBN 9781452107097. $24.99. COOKING

Rafferty, Tess. Recipes for Disaster: A Memoir. Thomas Dunne: St. Martin’s. 2012. c.320p. ISBN 9781250011435. $25.99. COOKING


Freely, John. Before Galileo: The Birth of Modern Science in Medieval Europe. Overlook, dist. by Penguin Group (USA). 2012. c.352p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781590206072. $28.95. SCI

Lambin, Eric. An Ecology of Happiness. Univ. of Chicago. 2012. c.192p. tr. from French by Teresa Lavender Fagan. bibliog. ISBN 9780226466675. $26. NAT HIST

Lockwood, Alan H. The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health. MIT. 2012. c.248p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780262017893. $24.95. SCI

Prasad, Aarathi. Like a Virgin: How Science Is Redesigning the Rules of Sex. Oneworld. 2012. c.288p. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781851689118. pap. $19.95. SCI