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One of the best pieces in the book is Natalie Angier's essay "Men, Women, Sex, and Darwin"--which became Woman: An Intimate Geography--a lucid and sharp challenge to the prevailing notions of evolutionary psychologists about what women want. Wendell Berry's "Back to the Land" praises the notion of an agrarian mindset, in contrast to the prevailing industrialism, and urges no less than a consumer revolt. Atul Gawande addresses the myth of the cancer cluster, Anne Fadiman recalls her reaction to a young boy's drowning, and Edward Hoagland imagines life in the third millennium in his elegant piece, "That Sense of Falling:"
Science is not sluggardly yet seems devoid of grief, because this would be a life without Mozart or other succulent choices at our fingertips, but oddly truncated, with so little sky and green and random sound or scent blowing in. We may need to grow not only hydroponic vitamins, but also oxygen, if the forests and oceanic vegetation are mauled beyond resuscitation: breathing units, to complement what may be denoted as affection units once the components of a child's emotional needs have been mapped precisely.
Millennialism drives several of the works, as a testament to our 1999 obsession with Y2K. Brief chronicles of the year's scientific revolutions are here, like Paul Ewald's work on microbiological evolution, as are more personal accounts, like Peter Matthiessen's pure naturalist prose and Oliver Sacks's "Brilliant Light," telling of his childhood obsession with chemistry. Browsers will find wonderful excerpts from the two major schools of science and nature writing that Quammen calls "Stay Home and Observe with a Gentle Heart" and "Go Forth and Observe with a Probing Mind." This collection is a very worthy addition to Houghton Mifflin's Best American series, and a science reader's dream come true. --Therese Littleton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
This is a fine read. Many great short articles and several longer ones. The book is written largely for the layman. Read morePublished on January 6, 2002 by Angus Lovejoy
This is a deeply flawed and disappointing collection of polemics revealing the editor's "watermelon" politics, (green on the outside, red in the middle).Published on June 23, 2001
"David Quammen" on a cover chains the eye and impels the hand to grasp the book displaying it. Read morePublished on April 7, 2001 by Stephen A. Haines