From Publishers Weekly
Science writers weigh in on a number of hot-button issues in this eloquent, accessible and often illuminating anthology. Culled from periodicals like the New Yorker, Discover, Harper's, Scientific American and the Atlantic Monthly, these 27 articles tackle everything from conservation and cancer to artificial intelligence and the origins of life. "Welcome to Cancerland," Barbara Ehrenreich's blistering review of our commercial breast cancer culture-which, she argues, celebrates "survivorhood by downplaying mortality" and infantilizes the afflicted in order to promote obedience-is the boldest and most controversial of these offerings. A close second is Frederick C. Crews's "Saving Us from Darwin," a lengthy but erudite consideration of the evolution vs. creationism debate. Several of the remaining entries offer eye-opening perspectives on humankind's impact on wildlife and the environment. In "Wall Street Losses, Wall Street Gains," Anne Matthews describes how songbirds, fixated and confused by the twinkling lights atop New York's tallest skyscrapers, circle the buildings until they fall to their death from exhaustion; H. Bruce Franklin ("The Most Important Fish in the Sea") focuses on the familiar topic of overfishing, which has led to an increased number of "dead zones" in the Atlantic; and Gordon Grice's "Is That a Mountain Lion in Your Backyard?" ponders the return of displaced mountain lions in the Western states. In her introduction to this collection, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Angier writes, "[S]cience writing has matured and is seated comfortably at the literary dining table." These fine works more than prove her point.--cience writing has matured and is seated comfortably at the literary dining table." These fine works more than prove her point.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Tim Folger, series editor for this meritorious annual, notes that the only drawback to having Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Angier, author of the vibrant and utterly trustworthy Woman: An Intimate Geography
(1998), serve as this year's guest editor is the disqualification of her own essays. But Angier's personal and reflective introduction is every bit as lucid and arresting as the outstanding essays she's selected, evincing as it does her signature wit, glory in language, and passion for science. Clarity is the quality Angier looks for first, and she has found 27 prime examples in science and nature essays as consistent in excellence as they are wildly diverse in subject. Frederick C. Crews dissects the newest, most insidious form of creationism. H. Bruce Franklin explains the importance of the "foul" fish menhaden. Blaine Harden chronicles Congo's illegal coltan mining, and other superb writers discuss everything from french fries to urban wildlife, the Bhutan yeti, the SAT, brain death, and dark energy, and the reader's mind expands and fills with light, just as Angier intended. Donna SeamanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved