Science & Technology Reviews | March 1, 2014

Adams, Carol J. & others. Never Too Late To Go Vegan: The Over-50 Guide to Adopting and Thriving on a Plant-Based Diet. The Experiment. Mar. 2014. 384p. notes. index. ISBN 9781615190980. pap. $16.95; ebk. ISBN 9781615191857. HEALTH

nevertoolatetogovegan031814Making a major life change can be difficult; having the right resource is essential. Authors Adams, Patti Breitman (coauthors How To Eat Like a Vegetarian Even If You Never Want To Be One), and Virginia Messina (Vegan for Life; The Vegan Sourcebook), possess decades of experience in vegan/vegetarian education, advocacy, and cooking. They cheer readers forward, encouraging dietary change at a comfortable pace and are mindful that a desire to eat healthy foods does not equal a desire to cook. Meal options address experienced, novice, and noncooks. The recipes are not overly complicated and will appeal to a variety of tastes, making the book a good primer for those dipping their toes into a vegan diet. The target audience is addressed with attention to aging and nutrition, diseases, and overall vitality. Inclusive of the intended reader, too, are discussions of how transitioning to a vegan diet affects long-term relationships and caregiving. Testimonials from Messina’s blog ( reinforce the message that “it’s never too late” to make “positive aging” transformations. VERDICT Readers seeking practical, well-researched information will benefit from the authors’ combined experience and expertise. The book’s ­back-to-basics approach, too, comes at a good time, when many current vegan cookbooks focus on specific cuisines.—­Meagan Storey, Virginia Beach

Bennett, Jeffrey. What Is Relativity? An Intuitive Introduction to Einstein’s Ideas, and Why They Matter. Columbia Univ. Mar. 2014. 224p. illus. index. ISBN 9780231167260. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9780231537032. SCI

whatisrelativity031814The theory of relativity is one of those areas of science that seems daunting to non-physicists. Although the experts agree that the theory is accurate and eloquent, most literature explaining it is too complex for the lay reader to grasp fully. Bennett (­Beyond UFOs), an astrophysicist who has coauthored many science textbooks, tries a different approach. First, he keeps the math out of it. The only equation in the book is E=mc2. Instead he relies heavily on thought experiments. Einstein himself used thought experiments to understand how to make sense of the shortcoming of Newtonian physics. Bennett takes the reader step by step from the special theory of relativity through the broader general theory of relativity. At each step he starts with what is known to us more or less through common sense and then moves slowly into new material. For example, he uses an intuitive concept like the earth being round to help explain how space-time can be curved, a concept that may not be intuitive. A generous dose of graphs and charts also helps illuminate his discussion. VERDICT Bennett does a masterly job of teaching a difficult topic without oversimplifying it. The results are recommended for readers at the high school level and above. A general understanding of Newtonian physics is beneficial.—William Baer, Georgia Inst. of Technology Lib., Atlanta

redstarPotter, Jennifer. Seven Flowers: And How They Shaped Our World. Overlook. Mar. 2014. 304p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781468308174. $26. NAT HIST

sevenflowers031814Horticultural historian Potter (The Rose) presents an intricate, well-researched and documented account of seven flower species (lotus, lily, sunflower, opium poppy, rose, tulip, and orchid) that have played significant roles in history, culture, science, and the humanities. Laced with art, poetry, and poetic prose, Potter’s work takes readers on a journey that traces each of these flowers’ roots and their introductions beyond their original borders and uses. From the blue lotus of ancient Egypt and the connections Egyptians made between its blooms and the daily birth and death of Ra the sun god to contemporary Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s use of sunflower seeds to provoke commentary on geopolitical economics, ­Potter’s flowers captivate. The words of poets, philosophers and historians and quotations from works of religion, art, and science allow readers to follow each flower’s complex migration from first documentation to consideration of it today. (For a different take on the opium poppy and heroin production in Afghanistan and its role in contemporary world politics, see Gretchen Peters’s Seeds of Terror.) VERDICT Not just for those interested in botany or gardening but those who appreciate history, art history, religious studies, and literature. This is a work that will appeal to, and satisfy, a broad readership.—Jenny ­Contakos, Art Inst. of Virginia Beach Lib.

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The following titles are reviewed in this month's print issue.
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Health & Medicine

Prasad, Kedar N. Fight Diabetes with Vitamins and Antioxidants. Healing Arts. Apr. 2014. 240p. illus. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781620551660. pap. $16.95. HEALTH

Home Economics

Agnew, Michael & others. Craft Beer for the Homebrewer: Recipes from America’s Top Brewmasters. Voyageur: Quarto. 2014. 160p. photos. index. ISBN 9780760344743. pap. $24.99. BEVERAGES

Whynott, Douglas. The Sugar Season: A Year in the Life of Maple Syrup—and One Family’s Quest for the Sweetest Harvest. Da Capo. Mar. 2014. 256p. ­­­­ISBN 9780306822049. $24.99; ­ebk. ISBN 9780306822056. HOME ECON

Zoe, Rachel. Living in Style: Inspiration and Advice for Everyday Glamour. Grand Central. Mar. 2014. 272p. photos. ISBN 9781455523580. $28. PERSONAL GROOMING


Darwin, Charles. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species: A Modern Rendition. Indiana Univ. 2014. 320p. adapted by Daniel Duzdevich. index. ISBN 9780253011664. $85; pap. ISBN 9780253011701. $30; ebk. ISBN 9780253011749. SCI

Hand, David J. The Improbability Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day. Scientific American. 2014. 288p. illus. notes. index. ISBN 9780374175344. $26. SCI

Secrets of Infinity: 150 Answers to an Enigma. Firefly. 2013. 320p. ed. by Antonio Lamúa. tr. from Spanish. illus. index. ISBN 9781770852198. $29.95. SCI

Vallianatos, E.G. & McKay Jenkins. Poison Spring: The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA. Bloomsbury. Apr. 2014. 304p. notes. index. ISBN 9781608199143. $28. NAT HIST

The Birds

redstarHowell, Steve N.G. & others. Rare Birds of North America. Princeton Univ. Mar. 2014. 428p. illus. maps. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780691117966. $35. NAT HIST

rarebirds031814Howell (Petrels, Albatrosses, and Storm-Petrels of North America), Ian Lewington (Rare Birds of Britain and Europe), and Will Russell (WINGS International Bird Tours) collaborate on the first comprehensive guide to rare birds occurring throughout the United States and Canada. “Rare” here means five or fewer individuals found annually since 1950. The book’s introduction explains avian migration in general and vagrancy in particular; maps showing migratory routes (and paths taken in error) and tables listing patterns of occurrence by region and season make complex information intelligible. The authors’ sifting of bird-sighting records for a period covering some six decades is impressive. Detailed accounts of 262 species comprise the bulk of the book. Lewington’s lovely color illustrations are supported by the sort of information one expects to find in bird guides (e.g., key identification features, taxonomy, distribution, similar species, behaviors, etc.). VERDICT That we are enjoying a “golden age of bird [book] publishing,” as another reviewer in these pages has said, is clearly exemplified by this work. The birding hobby’s growing popularity means that its fervent fringe of “life-listers” is growing, too, and for them, or anyone with an eye for the unusual, this book will surely tantalize.—Robert Eagan, Windsor P.L., Ont.

redstarSibley, David Allen. The Sibley Guide to Birds. 2d ed. Knopf. Mar. 2014. 600p. illus. maps. index. ISBN 9780307957900. $40. NAT HIST

Published to universal acclaim in 2000, Sibley expands the first edition of his guide by over 50 pages, with more than 100 species added—many rarities had not been included before, one of the few areas of criticism of the book. More than 600 paintings are new, the range maps revised, and information on habitat, behavior, and food preferences—largely lacking previously—enhance this superb guide. Sibley, a gifted artist, paints stylized birds, almost 7,000, capturing beautifully their general impression. He excels in depicting a species’ variation, with 25 paintings of herring gull (e.g., “1st winter,” “1st summer,” etc.) and 41 of the red-tailed hawk. Most field guides are oversimplifications. Sibley’s is not, but it avoids being overly detailed. The commonest exotic or nonnative species are given full due, too. This edition again offers detailed descriptions of birds’ vocalizations, superior to other guides. Most birders will not want to carry this volume afield (it weighs three lbs.), one reason it is a “guide” rather than a “field guide.” Sibley’s Eastern North America and Western North America field guides, generated from the first edition, will still suffice for general use. VERDICT Sibley acknowledges 79 top consultants. Nevertheless his splendid guide is a virtuoso performance. Highly recommended for all birding collections.—Henry T. ­Armistead, formerly with Free Lib. of Philadelphia

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