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The Best American Science Writing 2011 2011 ed. Edition

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0062091246
ISBN-10: 0062091247
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The perfect gateway to the wider world of modern science in all its variety and wonder. The writing is engaging and perfectly suited to readers of any interest level.... The Best American Science Writing 2011 provides a brilliantly brief glimpse into that fascinating world.” (San Francisco Book Review)

“By drawing from a wide variety of sources, mainstream (The New York Times, Playboy, Vanity Fair) and niche (Discover, Columbia Journalism Review, and science blogs), the [2011] anthology both provokes and inspires.” (Publishers Weekly)

“The list of impressive guest editors over the years—including Oliver Sacks, James Gleick, Atul Gawande and Jerome Groopman—is joined this year by a father and daughter... Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) teams with her father Floyd, a past contributor to the series…Literate, nontechnical popular science.” (Kirkus Reviews)

From the Back Cover

Edited by Rebecca Skloot, award-winning science writer and New York Times bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and her father, Floyd Skloot, an award-winning poet and writer, and past contributor to the series, The Best American Science Writing 2011 collects into one volume the most crucial, thought-provoking, and engaging science writing of the year. Culled from a wide variety of publications, these selections of outstanding journalism cover the full spectrum of scientific inquiry, providing a comprehensive overview of the most compelling, relevant, and exciting developments in the world of science. Provocative and engaging, The Best American Science Writing 2011 reveals just how far science has brought us—and where it is headed next.

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Product Details

  • Series: Best American Science Writing
  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; 2011 ed. edition (October 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062091247
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062091246
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,112,382 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on October 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I look forward to reading and reviewing this fine series every year. Science journalists have a harder time finding places to publish these days, hard science is less available, and the articles are getting fluffier. That's not really OK with me but it is what it is - and it reflects the scientific literacy of most US readers and is thus inevitable. Among the gems in this year's selections are the following:

*One of my favorites - "What Broke My Father's Heart" by Butler: Good article about end of life issues - that can be less like a battle and more like a massacre. There's nothing like the profit motive to keep people from being allowed to die in peace.

*One of my favorites - "Hot Air" by Homans: The "dumbing down" of science has infected our local TV weathermen. They enjoy a large respect factor from the public, sometimes being looked at as science ambassadors in their communities. Unfortunately, they may not know much science outside their immediate field - short-term prediction of weather - and have been known to misrepresent climate change issues.

"The Singularity" by Zimmer: Why Artificial Intelligence will not replace the human brain - but there are certainly technologies that might enhance it. Zimmer is a great science writer and does justice to this large subject.

"BP's Deep Secrets" by Whitty: In depth study of the long term environmental impacts of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill and much about the physiology of the deep.

"The Estrogen Dilemma" by Gorney: Hormone replacement therapy may carry a few risks but the symptoms of menopause can be tough to deal with. Good example of why epidemiological studies are so hard to interpret. The variables and intricacies are endless.
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Format: Paperback
technological science-themed subjects.

The 2011 version of the Best American Science Writing started out great for me with the introduction by Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and her father, Floyd, who co-edited. It was interesting to learn that they both came to science writing from entirely different perspectives and pathways. Their take on "what makes good science writing" is that it, "presents information clearly and accessibly while also telling stories that show readers how science impacts them, why it's essential to life and culture, why they should care, and why they should learn about it." I agree. Whether an individual enjoys the book's excellently written selections will likely depend on his or her interest in the subjects, but are worth reading just the same. With such a wide range of topics and tones, I found myself, at times, crying (Katy Butler's What Broke My Father's Heart "WBMFH") and other times feeling bored to tears (Mark Bowden's The Enemy Within). My favorites include: WBMFH, which tackles the issue of persons receiving unnecessary medical procedures that, though able to prolong a life, may do so at huge mental and physical costs; The Singularity, the prospect of possibly being able to upload the human brain; The Estrogen Dilemma, how the effects of taking estrogen depend on what time in her life she begins taking it and Deadly Misdiagnoses, problems that come from the misdiagnosis of TB.
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Skloot is the author of a fascinating book about Henrietta Lacks, whose cancer became an immortal cell line. That book showed her strengths (telling personal stories and depicting the human dimension of science) and her area of comfort (health and the life sciences). Unfortunately, Skloot stays in her comfort zone as editor of this installment in what is usually an excellent series. Although the title refers to an unqualified "Science," the contents have an overwhelming slant toward health and the life science. There is virtually nothing here about the physical sciences.
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I liked the width of topics though I did feel there was a larger number of 'big data' inspired essays. This series has allowed me, someone who is interested in keeping abreast of latest issues in the world of science, to pick up just one book to read all the essays on topics ranging from LSD to model generation for fighting insurgencies, in one place.

The quality of the essays range from mildly boring to very entertaining and regardless of the writing style employed by the individual authors, i can confidently say i learnt something new in each chapter.

Well worth the money and time.
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Science mixed with the personal--it's great. My favorite so far is Katy Butler's essay, "What Broke My Father's Heart." I plan to use it the next opportunity I have to teach creative nonfiction.
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