A science book recommendation: A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2eA3DIG.
It is not always entirely clear what Ziegelman and Coe mean for us to take away from their eloquent work of historical summation. Then again, that may be a good thing. The larger question of America’s shifting attitudes toward federal aid is a prodigious topic to digest.
Book description from Google Books:
From the author of the acclaimed 97 Orchard and her husband, a culinary historian, an in-depth exploration of the greatest food crisis the nation has ever faced—the Great Depression—and how it transformed America’s culinary culture.The decade-long Great Depression, a period of shifts in the country’s political and social landscape, forever changed the way America eats. Before 1929, America’s relationship with food was defined by abundance. But the collapse of the economy, in both urban and rural America, left a quarter of all Americans out of work and undernourished—shattering long-held assumptions about the limitlessness of the national larder.In 1933, as women struggled to feed their families, President Roosevelt reversed long-standing biases toward government-sponsored “food charity.” For the first time in American history, the federal government assumed, for a while, responsibility for feeding its citizens. The effects were widespread. Championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, “home economists” who had long fought to bring science into the kitchen rose to national stature.Tapping into America’s long-standing ambivalence toward culinary enjoyment, they imposed their vision of a sturdy, utilitarian cuisine on the American dinner table. Through the Bureau of Home Economics, these women led a sweeping campaign to instill dietary recommendations, the forerunners of today’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans.At the same time, rising food conglomerates introduced packaged and processed foods that gave rise to a new American cuisine based on speed and convenience. This movement toward a homogenized national cuisine sparked a revival of American regional cooking. In the ensuing decades, the tension between local traditions and culinary science has defined our national cuisine—a battle that continues today. A Square Meal examines the impact of economic contraction and environmental disaster on how Americans ate then—and the lessons and insights those experiences may hold for us today.A Square Meal features 25 black-and-white photographs.
The book is rated 3.68/5 at goodreads.com, from 691 ratings. See 160 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eA3vZS.
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A science book recommendation: Thank You for Being Late: Pausing to Reflect on the Twenty-First Century by Thomas L. Friedman

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2p2EzSY.
You do have a coherent narrative — an honest, cohesive explanation for why the world is the way it is, without miracle cures or scapegoats. And that is why everybody should hope this book does very well indeed.
Book description from Google Books:
A New York Times Bestseller A field guide to the twenty-first century, written by one of its most celebrated observersWe all sense it—something big is going on. You feel it in your workplace. You feel it when you talk to your kids. You can’t miss it when you read the newspapers or watch the news. Our lives are being transformed in so many realms all at once—and it is dizzying. In Thank You for Being Late, a work unlike anything he has attempted before, Thomas L. Friedman exposes the tectonic movements that are reshaping the world today and explains how to get the most out of them and cushion their worst impacts. You will never look at the world the same way again after you read this book: how you understand the news, the work you do, the education your kids need, the investments your employer has to make, and the moral and geopolitical choices our country has to navigate will all be refashioned by Friedman’s original analysis. Friedman begins by taking us into his own way of looking at the world—how he writes a column. After a quick tutorial, he proceeds to write what could only be called a giant column about the twenty-first century. His thesis: to understand the twenty-first century, you need to understand that the planet’s three largest forces—Moore’s law (technology), the Market (globalization), and Mother Nature (climate change and biodiversity loss)—are accelerating all at once. These accelerations are transforming five key realms: the workplace, politics, geopolitics, ethics, and community. Why is this happening? As Friedman shows, the exponential increase in computing power defined by Moore’s law has a lot to do with it. The year 2007 was a major inflection point: the release of the iPhone, together with advances in silicon chips, software, storage, sensors, and networking, created a new technology platform. Friedman calls this platform “the supernova”—for it is an extraordinary release of energy that is reshaping everything from how we hail a taxi to the fate of nations to our most intimate relationships. It is creating vast new opportunities for individuals and small groups to save the world—or to destroy it. Thank You for Being Late is a work of contemporary history that serves as a field manual for how to write and think about this era of accelerations. It’s also an argument for “being late”—for pausing to appreciate this amazing historical epoch we’re passing through and to reflect on its possibilities and dangers. To amplify this point, Friedman revisits his Minnesota hometown in his moving concluding chapters; there, he explores how communities can create a “topsoil of trust” to anchor their increasingly diverse and digital populations. With his trademark vitality, wit, and optimism, Friedman shows that we can overcome the multiple stresses of an age of accelerations—if we slow down, if we dare to be late and use the time to reimagine work, politics, and community. Thank You for Being Late is Friedman’s most ambitious book—and an essential guide to the present and the future.
The book is rated 4.00/5 at goodreads.com, from 3238 ratings. See 531 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2pKEWQf.
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A science book recommendation: Patient H.M.: A Family’s Secrets, the Ruthless Pursuit of Knowledge, and the Brain That Changed Everything by Luke Dittrich

A critic review (source NPR) can be read at: http://n.pr/2cJD061.
The ability to write gracefully about something as abstruse as the brain, to clarify a complex idea with just the right metaphor, is a special skill.
Book description from Google Books:
For readers of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks comes a propulsive, haunting journey into the secret history of brain science by Luke Dittrich, whose grandfather performed the surgery that created the most studied human research subject of all time: the amnesic known as Patient H.M. “Oliver Sacks meets Stephen King in a piercing study of one of psychiatric medicine’s darker hours. . . . A mesmerizing, maddening story and a model of journalistic investigation.”–Kirkus Reviews (starred review) In 1953, a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison–who suffered from severe epilepsy–received a radical new version of the then-common lobotomy, targeting the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henry’s seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long-term memories. Over the next sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who would teach us much of what we know about memory today. Patient H.M. is, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrich’s grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaison–and thousands of other patients. The author’s investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation–experimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves. Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where psychosurgeons, as they called themselves, conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world. Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide. Advance praise for Patient H.M. “Patient H.M. tells one of the most fascinating and disturbing stories in the annals of medicine, weaving in ethics, philosophy, a personal saga, the history of neurosurgery, the mysteries of human memory, and an exploration of human ego.”–Sheri Fink, M.D., Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Five Days at Memorial “Dittrich explores the limits of science and the mind. In the process, he rescues an iconic life from oblivion. Dittrich is well aware that while we are the sum of what we may remember, we’re also at the mercy of what we can forget. This is classic reporting and myth-making at the same time.”–Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin “This book succeeds on every level: as a fresh look at the most famous patient in medical history, as an exposé of our dark history of psychiatry and neurosurgery, and, most powerfully, as a deeply personal investigation into the author’s past. And yet it’s still a page-turner that reads like a thriller.”–Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire “It felt as if I read this book in one breath. Patient H.M. is a fascinating, powerful investigation, a matryoshka doll of nested stories about the past and present, remembering and forgetting.”–Michael Paterniti, author of The Telling Room
The book is rated 3.84/5 at goodreads.com, from 2063 ratings. See 422 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ctW3RM.
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A science book recommendation: I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2d3mDhR.
Even the book’s endnotes are rich with interesting asides, swarming with interesting sidelights, a teeming microbial world. This is the world you live in. This is the skin you live in. Make yourself at home.
Book description from Google Books:
New York Times BestsellerNew York Times Notable Book of 2016NPR Great Read of 2016Economist Best Books of 2016Brain Pickings Best Science Books of 2016Smithsonian Best Books about Science of 2016Science Friday Best Science Book of 2016A Mother Jones Notable Read of 2016A Bill Gates “Gates Notes” PickMPR Best Books of 2016Chicago Public Library Best of the Best Books of 2016 Minnesota Star-Tribune Best of the YearA Kirkus Best Book of the YearA PW Best Book of the Year Guardian Best of the YearTimes (London) Best of the YearJoining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin—a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on earth.Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light—less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are.The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people.Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us—the microbiome—build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners, and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it.
The book is rated 4.21/5 at goodreads.com, from 3163 ratings. See 508 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cumCWV.
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A science book recommendation: The Man Who Ate the Zoo: Frank Buckland, forgotten hero of natural history by Richard Girling

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2mK1X7w.
Today he does not even merit a mention in the “Encyclopaedia Britannica”. This brilliantly entertaining biography argues persuasively why his memory, too, is worthy of conservation.
Book description from Google Books:
Frank Buckland was an extraordinary man – a surgeon, a natural historian, a sell-out lecturer, a bestselling writer, a museum curator… and a conservationist, before the concept even existed. Eccentric, revolutionary, popular, prolific, he was one of the nineteenth century’s authentic geniuses. He was obsessed by food security and finding ways to feed the hungry (the book recounts his many unusual experiments), and by protecting our fisheries (he can be credited with saving British fish from commercial extinction). He was one of the most original, far-sighted and influential natural scientists of his time, held as high in public esteem as Charles Darwin. The Man Who Ate the Zoo is no conventional biography, but rather a journey back into Buckland’s life, a hunt for this forgotten man. It sets Buckland’s thinking and achievements in a rounded historical context, but views this Victorian adventurer from a modern viewpoint. It is both a rollicking yarn – engaging, funny and provocative – and a celebration of the great age of natural science, one man’s genius and what, even now, can be learned from him.
The book is rated 4.20/5 at goodreads.com, from 5 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2mVkKcL.
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A science book recommendation: The Blood of Emmett Till by Timothy B. Tyson

A critic review (source Star Tribune) can be read at: http://strib.mn/2p1sMVb.
A terrific writer and storyteller, Tyson compels a closer look at a heinous crime and the consequential decisions, large and small, that made it a national issue.
Book description from Google Books:
This extraordinary New York Times bestseller reexamines a pivotal event of the civil rights movement—the 1955 lynching of Emmett Till—“and demands that we do the one vital thing we aren’t often enough asked to do with history: learn from it” (The Atlantic).In 1955, white men in the Mississippi Delta lynched a fourteen-year-old from Chicago named Emmett Till. His murder was part of a wave of white terrorism in the wake of the 1954 Supreme Court decision that declared public school segregation unconstitutional. Only weeks later, Rosa Parks thought about young Emmett as she refused to move to the back of a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Five years later, Black students who called themselves “the Emmett Till generation” launched sit-in campaigns that turned the struggle for civil rights into a mass movement. Till’s lynching became the most notorious hate crime in American history. But what actually happened to Emmett Till—not the icon of injustice, but the flesh-and-blood boy? Part detective story, part political history, The Blood of Emmett Till “unfolds like a movie” (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution), drawing on a wealth of new evidence, including a shocking admission of Till’s innocence from the woman in whose name he was killed. “Jolting and powerful” (The Washington Post), the book “provides fresh insight into the way race has informed and deformed our democratic institutions” (Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Carry Me Home) and “calls us to the cause of justice today” (Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, president of the North Carolina NAACP).
The book is rated 4.13/5 at goodreads.com, from 1187 ratings. See 241 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2pJ8ptQ.
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Google Books preview available in full post.

A science book recommendation: Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal

A critic review (source National Post arts) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2d7RpX4.
These accounts alone make the book worth reading. Taken together, they form a powerful argument against the old idea that other species lack a cognitively rich inner life.
Book description from Google Books:
What separates your mind from an animal’s? Maybe you think it’s your ability to design tools, your sense of self, or your grasp of past and future–all traits that have helped us define ourselves as the planet’s preeminent species. But in recent decades, these claims have eroded, or even been disproven outright, by a revolution in the study of animal cognition. Take the way octopuses use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts that of humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees and bonobos, Frans de Waal explores both the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.People often assume a cognitive ladder, from lower to higher forms, with our own intelligence at the top. But what if it is more like a bush, with cognition taking different forms that are often incomparable to ours? Would you presume yourself dumber than a squirrel because you’re less adept at recalling the locations of hundreds of buried acorns? Or would you judge your perception of your surroundings as more sophisticated than that of a echolocating bat? De Waal reviews the rise and fall of the mechanistic view of animals and opens our minds to the idea that animal minds are far more intricate and complex than we have assumed. De Waal’s landmark work will convince you to rethink everything you thought you knew about animal–and human–intelligence.
The book is rated 3.94/5 at goodreads.com, from 3260 ratings. See 496 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2d7QJRk.
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A science book recommendation: Unruly Places: Lost Spaces, Secret Cities, and Other Inscrutable Geographies by Alastair Bonnett

A critic review (source LA Times) can be read at: http://lat.ms/2cAHGuK.
Bonnett is more than an armchair traveler, but his information is as likely to come from maps and libraries as it is from primary research…In general, however, Bonnett is an excellent guide and literary companion.
Book description from Google Books:
A tour of the world’s hidden geographies—from disappearing islands to forbidden deserts—and a stunning testament to how mysterious the world remains todayAt a time when Google Maps Street View can take you on a virtual tour of Yosemite’s remotest trails and cell phones double as navigational systems, it’s hard to imagine there’s any uncharted ground left on the planet. InUnruly Places, Alastair Bonnett goes to some of the most unexpected, offbeat places in the world to reinspire our geographical imagination.Bonnett’s remarkable tour includes moving villages, secret cities, no man’s lands, and floating islands. He explores places as disorienting as Sandy Island, an island included on maps until just two years ago despite the fact that it never existed. Or Sealand, an abandoned gun platform off the English coast that a British citizen claimed as his own sovereign nation, issuing passports and crowning his wife as a princess. Or Baarle, a patchwork of Dutch and Flemish enclaves where walking from the grocery store’s produce section to the meat counter can involve crossing national borders.An intrepid guide down the road much less traveled, Bonnett reveals that the most extraordinary places on earth might be hidden in plain sight, just around the corner from your apartment or underfoot on a wooded path. Perfect for urban explorers, wilderness ramblers, and armchair travelers struck by wanderlust, Unruly Places will change the way you see the places you inhabit.
The book is rated 3.51/5 at goodreads.com, from 1625 ratings. See 285 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2d6jhLj.
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Google Books preview available in full post.

A science book recommendation: Landskipping: Painters, Ploughmen and Places by Anna Pavord

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2cyjfOU.
An American reader ends up wanting to invite Pavord, obviously a very thoughtful companion, on a trip to the Alaskan wilderness or the California desert.
Book description from Google Books:
In Landskipping, Anna Pavord explores some of Britain’s most iconic landscapes in the past, in the present, and in literature. With her passionate, personal, and lyrical style, Pavord considers how different artists and agriculturists have responded to these environments. Like the author’s previous book The Tulip, Landskipping is as sublime and picturesque as its subject. Landskipping features an eclectic mix of locations, both ecologically and culturally significant, such as the Highlands of Scotland, the famous landscapes of the Lake District, and the Celtic hill forts of the West Country. These are some of the most recognizable landscapes in all of Britain. Along the way, Pavord annotates her fascinating journey with evocative descriptions of the country’s natural beauty and brings to life travelers of earlier times who left fascinating accounts of their journeys by horseback and on foot through the most remote corners of the British Isles.
The book is rated 3.34/5 at goodreads.com, from 32 ratings. See 7 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/1TEfdnE.
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A science book recommendation: The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy by Michael McCarthy

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2qLk2R3.
“The Moth Snowstorm” is an inspiring book, and I salute McCarthy for his boldness. Rather than the dire, dry statistical projections often heralded to make the case for conservation, he turns boldly to joy — to imagination and emotion.
Book description from Google Books:
A great, rhapsodic, urgent book full of joy, grief, rage and love . . . A must-read’ Helen Macdonald, author of H is for Hawk Nature has many gifts for us, but perhaps the greatest of them all is joy; the intense delight we can take in the natural world, in its beauty, in the wonder it can offer us, in the peace it can provide – feelings stemming ultimately from our own unbreakable links to nature, which mean that we cannot be fully human if we are separate from it. In The Moth Snowstorm Michael McCarthy, one of Britain’s leading writers on the environment, proposes this joy as a defence of a natural world which is ever more threatened, and which, he argues, is inadequately served by the two defences put forward hitherto: sustainable development and the recognition of ecosystem services. Drawing on a wealth of memorable experiences from a lifetime of watching and thinking about wildlife and natural landscapes, The Moth Snowstorm not only presents a new way of looking at the world around us, but effortlessly blends with it a remarkable and moving memoir of childhood trauma from which love of the natural world emerged. It is a powerful, timely, and wholly original book which comes at a time when nature has never needed it more.
The book is rated 4.01/5 at goodreads.com, from 157 ratings. See 30 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2s4EMHf.
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