Book Reviews

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Category archives for Book Reviews

Amy Stewart’s new book Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon’s Army & Other Diabolical Insects takes a fairly trivial concept – a collection of historical anecdotes and icky factoids about dangerous insects – and executes it remarkably well. The book is well-written and has a non-cloying sense of humor (“she’s just not that into…

. . . they could have. Or pretty darn close, at least – they just needed to visit one of the many European cabinets of anatomical curiosities, to see the work of anatomists like Honore Fragonard. Fragonard’s eighteenth-century ecorches were the clear precursors to Gunther von Hagens’ “Body Worlds” exhibits: preserved, injected, partially dissected bodies…

Ok, what are the people at Quirk Books on? I have to say, I love the cover of the book, and the typographical trailer is cute – but isn’t this just blatant meme abuse? Quirk explains The Meowmorphosis thus. . .

Anatomical engraving from Henry Gray’s Anatomy, 1858. A month or so ago, Abrams books reached out to mention that they were releasing a new title, Human Anatomy: A Visual History from the Renaissance to the Digital Age. I said, “don’t I already have this book?” It turns out I did – I had the previous,…

It’s the very last installment of Zombiefest – one more book review, this time for one I heartily recommend! Daniel Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts, prefaces his new book about zombies with an unexpected vignette – a visit to Graceland: By the time my tour hit the Jungle Room, it was obvious…

This week is zombiefest! Why? Because I finally had a chance to finish my reviews of two zombie-themed books. Up today is the third in the series spawned by the mash-up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (P&P&Z), the new Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After. The original P&P&Z was perfectly absurd – a…

Pinkies from Food Chain: Encounters Between Mates, Predators and Prey by Catherine Chalmers Photographer Catherine Chalmers (who may be best known in biology circles for her portraits of genetically modified mice) goes beyond brutal accuracy in her animal photography. Food Chain: Encounters Between Mates, Predators and Prey is a book of photos depicting predatory insects,…

Psychologist Robert Kurzban’s new book promises to explain Why Everyone (Else) Is a Hypocrite. It’s a bold promise, and I was skeptical when first invited to review it. But Kurzban delivered – hilariously, entertainingly so. Although since I agree with almost everything he writes, I may not be the most objective of critics. (FYI: this…

The Wellcome Trust book prize honors books that “bring together the worlds of medicine and literature.” This year’s recipient was none other than Rebecca Skloot’s The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks – a well-deserved win for a nuanced exploration of the tensions between pure research, medical ethics, and social injustice (with a meta-message about the…

Just in: Carl Schoonover’s Portraits of the Mind, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, gets the New York Times Science section treatment. Check out their video interview with Carl; his account of the book’s genesis illustrates the benefits that accrue when scientists take the opportunity to share the things that excite them about their…