Welcome to the Scientists' Nightstand, the new incarnation of American Scientist's science books e-newsletter. The Nightstand, formerly known as the Scientists' Bookshelf Monthly, will note reviews of books about science and mathematics from a variety of venues, as well as other news from the world of science books. It will also feature books-related content from American Scientist. You can read this newsletter online, or have it delivered to your inbox each month by creating a My AmSci account.
The magazine regrets to announce, with our March–April 2013 issue, the shelving of our nearly 70-year-old book-reviews section, the Scientists' Bookshelf. We will continue to run Nanoviews and reviews of large-format books, as well as other books features as time permits. For more information, please see this note from the editors.
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Reviews from American Scientist, March–April 2013
Sparring with the Great Geometer
by Brian Hayes
A review of The King of Infinite Space: Euclid and His Elements, by David Berlinski. “Berlinski offers a meditative monologue on Euclid’s place in the history of mathematics and the history of ideas,” says Hayes
Crafting a Narrative of Care
by Julianne Lutz Warren
A review of On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, by William Souder. Souder’s sensitive and thorough biography of Carson, Warren writes, “helps us see her life work as crafting a narrative in which science is used to care for Earth”
A Theory of Theory of Mind
by Michael Bérubé
A review of Getting Inside Your head, by Lisa Zunshine. Zunshine employs concepts from cognitive science to explain humans’ appetite for fictional scenes in which characters’ mental states are unintentionally revealed to us. This theory, says Bérubé, is “helpfully specific,” although the effort to extend it over a wide range of scenarios and art forms falls a bit flat
by Peter Raven
A review of Visible Empire: Botanical Expeditions and Visual Culture in the Hispanic Enlightenment, by Daniela Bleichmar. Naturalists and artists on Spanish expeditions to the New World created thousands of botanical images; this well-researched book explores an archive of them
A Wealth of Complexities
by Carol Dorf
A review of Complexities: Women in Mathematics, edited by Bettye Anne Case and Anne M. Leggett, and A Wealth of Numbers: An Anthology of 500 Years of Popular Mathematics Writing, edited by Benjamin Wardhaugh. These two very different anthologies open unique windows on mathematical history
by Katie L. Burke
A brief review of Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley’s Curious Collection, by Simon Winchester, with photographs by Nick Mann
by Fenella Saunders
A brief review of The Tinkerers: The Amateurs, DIYers, and Inventors Who Make America Great, by Alec Foege
Also in AmSci
Edward Lear's Nonsense Botany
In a recent Science Observer, Anna Lena Phillips considered the resurgence of interest in Edward Lear’s scientific illustration—and the possibility that his nonsense drawings and verse might have practical use as well. Thanks to Harvard University's Houghton Library, we're featuring a slide show of Lear's fantastic drawings. View it here.
Off the Shelf
Here we feature reviews and other science books content from around the Web. The list is curated and subjective—we can't hope to include every science or math-related review out there. But if you feel there's something big we should know about, please write. Our contact information is below.
In the Guardian, Laurence Scott reviews Jaron Lanier's latest, Who Owns the Future?, noting that Lanier "tellingly questions the trajectory of economic value in the information age, and argues that there has been a fundamental misstep in how capitalism has gone digital."
Also in the Guardian, John Harris considers Andrew Simms's Cancel the Apocalypse: The New
Path to Prosperity: "There is a joy in reading someone setting out the case for such unmentionables as a 21-hour working week and an economy that runs wholly on renewables."
And Gavin Francis reviews Anatomies: The Human Body, Its Parts and the Stories They Tell, by Hugh Aldersey-Williams.
Alanna Mitchell, in Toronto's Globe and Mail, reviews Al Gore's The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change.
The San Francisco Chronicle has an interview with Gore by John McMurtrie.
In the Los Angeles Review of Books, Michele Pridmore-Brown interviews Marlene Zuk, author of Paleofantasy: What Evolution Really Tells Us About Sex, Diet, and How We Live.
In the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Seth S. Horowitz reviews Katherine Bouton's Shouting Won't Help: Why I—and 50 Million Other Americans—Can’t Hear You.
At Download the Universe, Virginia Hughes reviews an article by Phil McKenna that was recently released as a $0.99 e-book from Matter, a publisher of long-form journalism about science.
The Women's Review of Books has a review by Laura Pappano of Martha H. Verbrugge's Active Bodies: A History of Women’s Physical Education in Twentieth-Century America.
And in the Atlantic, Steven Heller considers Robert Seidman's fictionalized biography of stop-motion photography pioneer Eadweard Muybridge, interviewing Seidman along the way.
News from the world of science books publishing, including book-review venues, presses, new technologies for the book and more
Winners of the 2013 National Book Critics Circle awardsIn the Slate Book Review, Matthew Kirschenbaum asks, "What was the first novel ever written on a word processor?"
include Andrew Solomon's Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity.
On March 1, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt stopped selling Jonah Lehrer's second book, How We Decide. Lehrer gave a speech at the Knight Journalism Foundation in February, in which he apologized for what he had done.
The blog Confessions of a Science Librarian has a roundup of links about the story of Aaron Swartz, the computer programmer and Internet activist who recently took his own life while
facing charges of wire fraud for downloading a large number of journal articles from JSTOR. The post includes links to several takes on the question of access to scientific journals.
Need More Reviews?
For more coverage of books about science and mathematics, consult our newly updated list of sources: amsci.org/book-review-links
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