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Not by Chance Alone

by Elliot Aronson

How does a boy from a financially and intellectually impoverished background grow up to become a Harvard researcher, win international acclaim for his groundbreaking work, and catch fire as a pioneering psychologist? As the only person in the history of the American Psychological Association to have won all three of its highest honors-for distinguished research, teaching, and writing- Elliot Aronson is living proof that humans are capable of capturing the power of the situation and conquering the prison of personality. A personal and compelling look into Aronson's profound contributions to the field of social psychology,Not by Chance Aloneis a lifelong story of human potential and the power of social change.

Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes

by James Palmer

In 1976, an earthquake destroyed the Chinese city of Tangshan and killed half a million people. That same year, Chairman Mao Zedong and two of his top statesmen died, bringing the Cultural Revolution to an end and ushering in a new political and economic era. Palmer, winner of the Spectator's Shiva Naipaul Prize for travel writing, recounts the many changes in China that year, drawing on primary sources and interviews with survivors of the earthquake and its political aftermath. The book is written in a narrative style combining perspectives from political leaders and ordinary people. An explanation of the political tensions building in the 10 years before the earthquake provides background. The book is illustrated with b&w historical photos. Palmer works for the Chinese state media. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

Feathers

by Thor Hanson

The science, evolution, and practice of studying and identifying feathers are the subject of this delightful book for the general reader. The author traveled widely, interviewing specialists, to piece together what we know about feathers: the almost impossible genius of their many uses and effectiveness, the history of their study and use as ornament, and the current theories about their evolution, based on fossils found in Wyoming, Liaoning, China, and elsewhere. The volume is well-illustrated with drawings. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

Measure of the Earth

by Larrie D. Ferreiro

In the early eighteenth century, at the peak of the Enlightenment, an unlikely team of European scientists and naval officers set out on the world's first international, cooperative scientific expedition. Intent on making precise astronomical measurements at the Equator, they were poised to resolve one of mankind's oldest mysteries: the true shape of the Earth. In Measure of the Earth, award-winning science writer Larrie D. Ferreiro tells the full story of the Geodesic Mission to the Equator for the very first time. It was an age when Europe was torn between two competing conceptions of the world: the followers of René Descartes argued that the Earth was elongated at the poles, even as Isaac Newton contended that it was flattened. A nation that could accurately determine the planet's shape could securely navigate its oceans, giving it great military and imperial advantages. Recognizing this, France and Spain organized a joint expedition to colonial Peru, Spain's wealthiest kingdom. Armed with the most advanced surveying and astronomical equipment, they would measure a degree of latitude at the Equator, which when compared with other measurements would reveal the shape of the world. But what seemed to be a straightforward scientific exercise was almost immediately marred by a series of unforeseen catastrophes, as the voyagers found their mission threatened by treacherous terrain, a deeply suspicious populace, and their own hubris. A thrilling tale of adventure, political history, and scientific discovery, Measure of the Earth recounts the greatest scientific expedition of the Enlightenment through the eyes of the men who completed it-pioneers who overcame tremendous adversity to traverse the towering Andes Mountains in order to discern the Earth's shape. In the process they also opened the eyes of Europe to the richness of South America and paved the way for scientific cooperation on a global scale.

Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life

by Douglas T. Kenrick

"Kenrick writes like a dream. "-Robert Sapolsky, Professor of Biology and Neurology, Stanford University; author of A Primate's Memoir and Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers What do sex and murder have to do with the meaning of life? Everything. In Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life, social psychologist Douglas Kenrick exposes the selfish animalistic underside of human nature, and shows how it is intimately connected to our greatest and most selfless achievements. Masterfully integrating cognitive science, evolutionary psychology, and complexity theory, this intriguing book paints a comprehensive picture of the principles that govern our lives. As Kenrick divulges, beneath our civilized veneer, human beings are a lot like howling hyenas and barking baboons, with heads full of homicidal tendencies and sexual fantasies. But, in his view, many ingrained, apparently irrational behaviors-such as inclinations to one-night stands, racial prejudices, and conspicuous consumption-ultimately manifest what he calls "Deep Rationality. " Although our heads are full of simple selfish biases that evolved to help our ancestors survive, modern human beings are anything but simple and selfish cavemen. Kenrick argues that simple and selfish mental mechanisms we inherited from our ancestors ultimately give rise to the multifaceted social lives that we humans lead today, and to the most positive features of humanity, including generosity, artistic creativity, love, and familial bonds. And out of those simple mechanisms emerge all the complexities of society, including international conflicts and global economic markets. By exploring the nuance of social psychology and the surprising results of his own research, Kenrick offers a detailed picture of what makes us caring, creative, and complex-that is, fully human. Illuminated with stories from Kenrick's own colorful experiences -- from his criminally inclined shantytown Irish relatives, his own multiple high school expulsions, broken marriages, and homicidal fantasies, to his eventual success as an evolutionary psychologist and loving father of two boys separated by 26 years -- this book is an exploration of our mental biases and failures, and our mind's great successes. Idiosyncratic, controversial, and fascinating, Sex, Murder, and the Meaning of Life uncovers the pitfalls and promise of our biological inheritance.

Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids

by Bryan Caplan

Caplan (economics, George Mason U. ) claims that modern parents are not having enough kids. A father himself, Caplan draws on recent research to show that heredity is a bigger factor than parenting in a child's life, and translates this into good news for parents: Whatever parents do, the kids will probably turn out OK! The book offers a parent's guide to behavioral genetics, with several chapters devoted to explaining current research in the field and its implications for parenting. Other reasons for having more kids: kids are safer now than in the 1950s, and more kids means more workers to keep Social Security and Medicare alive. The book concludes with selfish guidelines for want-to-be grandparents, and a final chapter reviewing fertility technology. The author is a blogger at one of the Wall Street Journal's Top 25 Economic Blogs. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

The Life of Super-Earths

by Dimitar Sasselov

In 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus fomented a revolution when he debunked the geocentric view of the universe, proving instead that our planet wasn't central to the universe. Almost five hundred years later, the revolution he set in motion is nearly complete. Just as earth is not the center of things, the life on it, it appears, is not unique to the planet. Or is it? The Life of Super-Earthsis a breathtaking tour of current efforts to answer the age-old question: Are we alone in the universe? Astronomer Dimitar Sasselov, the founding director of Harvard University's Origins of Life Initiative, takes us on a fast-paced hunt for habitable planets and alien life forms. He shows how the search for "super-Earths"-rocky planets like our own that orbit other stars-may provide the key to answering essential questions about the origins of life here and elsewhere. That is, if we don't find the answers to those questions here first. As Sasselov and other astronomers have uncovered planets with mixes of elements different from our own, chemists have begun working out the heretofore unseen biochemistries that those planets could support. That knowledge is feeding directly into synthetic biology-the effort to build wholly novel forms of life-making it likely that we will first discover truly "alien" life forms in an earthly lab, rather than on a remote planet thousands of light years away. Sasselov tells the gripping story of a moment of unprecedented potential-a convergence of pioneering efforts in astronomy and biology to peer into the unknown. The Life of Super-Earthsoffers nothing short of a transformation in our understanding of life and its place in the cosmos.

When Gadgets Betray Us

by Robert Vamosi

Writing in plain language for general readers, Vamosi, a computer security analyst and a contributing editor at PCWorld, explains what we're really signing up for when we log in and reveals the secret lives of our electronic devices, offering a commonsense approach for protecting ourselves. The book is about hardware hacking and new kinds of identity fraud: how our mobile phone conversations can be intercepted, how our credit cards and driver's licenses can be copied at a distance. The author travels from the streets of New York and LA to Johannesburg and Berlin, to talk to people who have experienced firsthand how gadgets can betray us and to examine the effects of technology in the Third World. He recommends the addition of basic authentication and strong encryption to most hardware to reduce the vulnerabilities described in the book, but notes that hardware manufacturers have so far shown little interest in securing their gadgets. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

Spirit of Vatican II

by Colleen Mcdannell

The author's mother, Margaret, was a 34-year-old mother of two young children in 1962, when the Second Vatican Council began a round of broad reforms which transformed the daily lives of practicing American Catholics. For Catholics of Margaret's generation, who lived through the Great Depression and the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Vatican II was a watershed event. Writing in an accessible style, McDannell (history, religious studies, University of Utah-Salt Lake City) uses the story of her mother's life as a unifying narrative thread to demonstrate the lasting legacies of Vatican II, showing how the reforms brought Margaret, and millions of other ordinary women like her, into more intimate contact with the ritual and theological life of the church. The author's popular writings on religion have appeared in the New York Times Magazine and BookForum. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

Truth, Beauty, and Goodness Reframed

by Howard Gardner

Gardner (cognition and education, Harvard Graduate School of Education) is well-known for his work on multiple intelligences. Here, he traces changes in the Western classical virtues conceptions of truth, beauty, and goodness over the past 60 years, and describes new challenges in making sense of these virtues in an era of postmodernism and digital media. He gives suggestions for parents, teachers, and others who wish to educate for these virtues throughout the lifespan, both in and out of the classroom. According to the author, the book may be read "as a sustained argument against the hegemonies of biological determinism and economic determinism. " Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

Crashes, Crises, and Calamities

by Len Fisher

Popular science writer Len Fisher presents this guide to using scientific and historical observation to predict, plan for, and mitigate the effects of disasters of all types. The work examines the history of disaster prediction, the characteristics of disasters and how they happen and how to read signs in the natural world that will foretell impending problems. Written in an easy narrative style, the work manages to impart science based principles of hypothesizing and forecasting in a manner accessible to general readers. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

Ancient Chinese Warfare

by Ralph D. Sawyer

A US specialist in Chinese military and intelligence who advises governments and companies, Sawyer discusses general aspects of warfare in China during legendary and ancient times. He dips into such detail as particular battles or leaders only occasionally to demonstrate a larger trend. Among his topics are ancient fortifications, the Shang Dynasty, metallurgical evolution in China, spears and armor, the chariot and horse, and ancient logistics. He writes for general readers; specialists can find technical military and historical matters in the end notes. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

The Neoconservative Persuasion

by Irving Kristol

Irving Kristol, the 'godfather' of neoconservatism, was founder and editor of The Public Interest. This collection of his essays reveals the intellectual development of this influential thinker and charts the development of neoconservatism since the 1940s. Many of the essays are reprinted for the first time since their original publication. Topics range from Machiavelli to the welfare state, capitalism, foreign policy, and Judaism and Christianity. The book closes with three autobiographical essays and a 30-page list of Kristol's published books, edited collections, essays, reviews, symposia, interviews, and lectures. There is no subject index. Editor Gertrude Himmelfarb is Kristol's widow. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

The Abacus and the Cross

by Nancy Marie Brown

Science writer Brown tells the life story of Gerbert d'Aurillac, better known as Pope Sylvester II, the pope of the year 1000. She dwells on his mathematical and scientific ability but does not ignore the political intrigue that often put him out of favor with kings and earlier popes. Her explanation of his scientific knowledge corrects many long held myths, such as that everyone believed the world would end in AD 1000 and that everyone thought the earth was flat. However, she creates new ones in the process. The reader is left to think that, after Gerbert's brief light, the "Dark Ages" closed in again and no more science was accomplished until the "Renaissance. " Too much of her story is told in scientific "either/or" terms when history is much more "and/also. " Her effort is laudable but her background understanding incomplete. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

Heaven's Bride

by Leigh Schmidt

The nineteenth-century eccentric Ida C. Craddock was by turns a secular freethinker, a religious visionary, a civil-liberties advocate, and a resolute defender of belly-dancing. Arrested and tried repeatedly on obscenity charges, she was deemed a danger to public morality for her candor about sexuality. By the end of her life Craddock, the nemesis of the notorious vice crusader Anthony Comstock, had become a favorite of free-speech defenders and women's rights activists. She soon became as well the case-history darling of one of America's earliest and most determined Freudians. InHeaven's Bride, prize-winning historian Leigh Eric Schmidt offers a rich biography of this forgotten mystic, who occupied the seemingly incongruous roles of yoga priestess, suppressed sexologist, and suspected madwoman. In Schmidt's evocative telling, Craddock's story reveals the beginning of the end of Christian America, a harbinger of spiritual variety and sexual revolution.

Thoughtful Gardening

by Robin Lane Fox

InThoughtful Gardening, award-winning historian andFinancial Timesgardening columnist Robin Lane Fox takes readers on a delightful journey through each season of the gardening year. From fending off vine-weevils to visiting Yves Saint Laurent's private gardens in Marrakech, Fox imbues each of his musings with grace, sophistication, and charm. Essential reading for anyone planting a new garden or taking stock of one after several years,Thoughtful Gardeningoffers expert advice and a touching reminder of the power of art and literature to deepen what we see and experience in nature. Combining a vast understanding of horticulture with witty and stylish storytelling, these vignettes form-season by season-a rich reflection on the lessons, challenges, and joys of life with a green thumb.

Bloodlands

by Timothy Snyder

Americans call the Second World War "The Good War. " But before it even began, America's wartime ally Josef Stalin had killed millions of his own citizens-and kept killing them during and after the war. Before Hitler was finally defeated, he had murdered six million Jews and nearly as many other Europeans. At war's end, both the German and the Soviet killing sites fell behind the iron curtain, leaving the history of mass killing in darkness. Bloodlandsis a new kind of European history, presenting the mass murders committed by the Nazi and Stalinist regimes as two aspects of a single history, in the time and place where they occurred: between Germany and Russia, when Hitler and Stalin both held power. Assiduously researched, deeply humane, and utterly definitive,Bloodlandswill be required reading for anyone seeking to understand the central tragedy of modern history.

Song of Wrath

by J. E. Lendon

Lendon (history, University of Virginia) goes beyond Thucydides in this account of the events leading up to the first Peloponnesian War and the first ten years of the war itself. He explains the culture of Athens and Sparta and the importance of rank and honor to citizens of both city-states. The story of the battles and strategies is told in a flowing narrative style. He sees it as a tale of alternating pride and shame, more important than land or booty and studied in this context the decisions of the leaders of cities seem logical. Lendon provides appendices with a list of people and places, an essay on Thucydides and his bias as a historian and an analysis of other sources. While to many, the rules of engagement might appear strange, the concept of fighting to save face is far from extinct. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

A Wicked Company

by Philipp Blom

Austrian historian Blom feels strongly that, with their emulation of Voltaire and Rousseau, the nineteenth century Romantics took social philosophy down the wrong path. In this biography of Diderot, Holbach and the salons of Paris in the mid-eighteenth century, Blom places their ideas within a historical context. He also explains how they were misunderstood by both contemporaries and the present. The radical side of the Enlightenment was suppressed, especially in the West, because of its atheism and, even more, its insistence on the abolition of class status. The radicals were accused of advocating libertine behavior that destroyed morality and trampled on the rights of others. Blom refines these judgments, pointing out that Diderot and Holbach espoused a morality based on respect and the good of the community, without religion. The philosophy is seamlessly woven into the story of the tumultuous time leading up to the French Revolution making the lives of these men as enthralling as any novel. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

God of Liberty

by Thomas S. Kidd

Before the Revolutionary War, America was a nation divided by different faiths. But when the war for independence sparked in 1776, colonists united under the banner of religious freedom. Evangelical frontiersmen and Deist intellectuals set aside their differences to defend a belief they shared, the right to worship freely. Inspiring an unlikely but powerful alliance, it was the idea of religious liberty that brought the colonists together in the battle against British tyranny. InGod of Liberty, historian Thomas S. Kidd argues that the improbable partnership of evangelicals and Deists saw America through the Revolutionary War, the ratification of the Constitution, and the election of Thomas Jefferson in 1800. A thought-provoking reminder of the crucial role religion played in the Revolutionary era,God of Libertyrepresents both a timely appeal for spiritual diversity and a groundbreaking excavation of how faith powered the American Revolution.

Berlin at War

by Roger Moorhouse

While most books about Germany during the Second World War deal with military or political history on a large scale, Moorhouse focuses on a single city, describing life during the war years from the perspective of residents of Berlin. Using interviews with still-living war survivors as well as unpublished memoirs and diaries, the author shows Berliners' lives became increasingly difficult and surreal as their city bore the brunt of the Allied air war and, later, the final attacks of the Soviet Red Army. A sobering testament to the escalating horrors that years of war wreak on civilians, Moorhouse's book deserves a wide audience. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

The Climate Fix: What Scientists and Politicians Won't Tell You about Global Warming

by Roger Pielke Jr.

Why has the world been unable to address global warming? Science policy expert Roger Pielke, Jr. , says it's not the fault of those who reject the Kyoto Protocol, but those who support it, and the magical thinking that the agreement represents. InThe Climate Fix, Pielke offers a way to repair climate policy, shifting the debate away from meaningless targets and toward a revolution in how the world's economy is powered, while de-fanging the venomous politics surrounding the crisis. The debate on global warming has lost none of its power to polarize and provoke in a haze of partisan vitriol. The Climate Fixwill bring something new to the discussions: a commonsense perspective and practical actions better than any offered so far.

Cry Havoc

by Joe Maiolo

Did the arms race of the 1930s cause the Second World War? InCry Havoc, historian Joseph Maiolo shows, in rich and fascinating detail, how the deadly game of the arms race was played out in the decade prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. In this exhaustively researched account, he explores how nations reacted to the moves of their rivals, revealing the thinking of those making the key decisions-Hitler, Mussolini, Chamberlain, Stalin, Roosevelt-and the dilemmas of democratic leaders who seemed to be faced with a choice between defending their nations and preserving their democratic way of life. An unparalleled account of an era of extreme political tension,Cry Havocshows how the interwar arms race shaped the outcome of World War II before the shooting even began.

The Shape of Inner Space

by Shing-Tung Yau Steve Nadis

String theory says we live in a ten-dimensional universe, but that only four are accessible to our everyday senses. According to theorists, the missing six are curled up in bizarre structures known as Calabi-Yau manifolds. InThe Shape of Inner Space, Shing-Tung Yau, the man who mathematically proved that these manifolds exist, argues that not only is geometry fundamental to string theory, it is also fundamental to the very nature of our universe. Time and again, where Yau has gone, physics has followed. Now for the first time, readers will follow Yau's penetrating thinking on where we've been, and where mathematics will take us next. A fascinating exploration of a world we are only just beginning to grasp,The Shape of Inner Spacewill change the way we consider the universe on both its grandest and smallest scales.

Climatopolis

by Matthew E. Kahn

Kahn, an urban and environmental economist and professor at UCLA's Institute of the Environment, Department of Economics, and Department of Public Policy, looks at the upside of global warming and predicts how specific cities in developed and developing countries will be affected by and adapt to climate change. He warns against government bailouts to address problems from climate change, and instead urges a focus on market-driven problem-solving in the form of economic strategies, innovations, and products that will be useful for cities and urban areas addressing consequences of climate change. The author is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. His blog on environmental and urban topics was rated one of Wall Street Journal's top 25 economics blogs. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc. , Portland, OR (booknews. com)

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