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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2011 Paperback – October 4, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
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"The Organ Dealer" by Bhattacharjee: When the illegal underground market gets hold of something people want, people suffer. This article demonstrates that concept for the worldwide organ transplant business.
*One of my favorites - "Nature's Spoils" by Burkhard Bilger: A delightful romp through an alternative lifestyle as you rediscover the symbiotic relationship between humankind and bacteria. The author takes us from "urban squatters" who are not above dumpster diving to homesteaders living on communes who prefer raw milk and roadkill. Be prepared to "read through" some of the earthier parts of this article while our author drives home the idea that "Modern hygiene has prevented countless colds, fevers, and other ailments, but its central premise is hopelessly outdated. The human body isn't besieged: it's saturated - infused with microbial life at every level."
"The Chemist's War" by Blum: During Prohibition people found liquor by whatever means. The easiest way was to procure industrial alcohol and dress it up with a new flavor. Deciding to fight fire with fire, the government poisoned industrial alcohol. By the time Prohibition ended in 1933 this federal program had killed at least 10,000 citizens.Read more ›
PROBLEM: Author names aren't included in the Kindle version table of contents. That may seem minor, but one of the great things about these anthologies is that you can skip around from author to author. The Kindle version makes it impossible to do this, which is frankly kind of annoying. The "Look Inside!" table of contents for the paperback version is what it should look like.
If you read the anthologies from front to back, then ignore this review. If you're like me and you like to skip around by author (or even magazine), you might be better off buying the paperback. I wish I had.
I'm not going to list each story's theme. But here's what you can expect: the best contemporary science and nature writers of 2011 allow you to see outward into the universe with the power of the Hubble Space Telescope, look inward with the detail of tunneling electron microscopy, and most importantly of all, allow you to look into an extremely highly polished mirror. And you'll see in this mirror, in exquisite detail, how we humans react when confronted with birth, life, sex. How we act when our desire for gastronomic delicacies threatens the existence of a non-human species.Read more ›
My own reading confirmed that one after another of the essays could easily be picked out as a favorite and the best thing one had read in a while. Some of my favorites are ones I didn't see highlighted by other reviewers overmuch -- one on the illegal kidney trade, for instance, and one on people who eat all sorts of home-fermented food, half the time sounding like wise sages brimming with wonderful secrets about tried and true traditional foods and half the time sounding like nutcases. (Thanks, but I'll pass on the health miracle of eating rotten meat.) Then there's the article about mass slaughter of songbirds across a migration corridor in Europe, sometimes as part of a traditional diet, but sometimes as part of "traditions" that just started, and sometimes merely for the apparent joy of slaughtering absolutely everything that moves just because you can, and leaving it to rot. But there's more. Everyone will find favorites.
I only disliked one essay, but it was mercifully short. It combined being repetitive with a sort of unfocused New Agey series of segues into borderline poetic language.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Though untrained, I am a science junkie. These non-technical collections are always a treat, always informative. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Bookishfellow
Some very interesting articles. You can skip the ones you don't like. One fabulous story was on the state of medical research. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Katherine Getchell
Great book. I read this in school, but usually ended up reading many more chapters than required. Great collection!Published 11 months ago by Katie
very interesting for the layperson. a lot of food for thought.Published 12 months ago by Jesse Kay Wenger
I always like to learn what's happening in the world of science. This gives it to you in accessible form for an interested layman like myself.Published 14 months ago by Stonetools
Interesting , for sure . Not everything is relevant . But it's somehow a good book . Some articles are too long with too many details ..Published 16 months ago by Philip