RaveThe Washington PostA wide-ranging and delightful survey, The Possibility of Life is the kind of book that makes you exclaim \'Wow!\' out loud while reading on the bus. To some extent, that’s because Green packs the book with fascinating facts ... Even more mind-blowing, though, is Green’s ability to make us rethink everything we thought we knew about life on Earth ... The Possibility of Life is rich with these kinds of insights, teaching us that when we look beyond the gravity well of Earth, we are ultimately looking back at ourselves.
David Graeber and David Wengrow
PositiveThe Washington Post... fascinating ... This final work is a fitting capstone to [Graeber\'s] career, a tome that rivals fantasy epics in heft and imaginative scope ... this isn’t a book that attempts to be scientifically accurate, whatever that might mean. It’s a polemic ... Graeber and Wengrow tell a dazzling array of stories about civilizations across many continents and thousands of years, all of which are grappling with what it means to be free ... Occasionally, Graeber and Wengrow fall into the same kind of biased thinking as the Enlightenment-obsessed men they criticize ... the authors admit openly that their examples are cherry-picked, and in some cases interpreted extremely speculatively, because they aren’t writing a science textbook. They’re writing a manifesto, suggesting another way for humanity to live, inspired by ideas our ancestors left to us ... The more we learn about the many paths our ancestors have taken, the more possible futures open up. The Dawn of Everything begins as a sharp rejoinder to sloppy cultural analysis and ends as a paean to freedoms that most of us never realized were available. Knowing that there were other ways to live, Graeber and Wengrow conclude, allows us to rethink what we might yet become.
RaveNPRLike its predecessors, MaddAddam is a blend of satiric futurism and magic realism, a snarky but soulful peek at what happens to the world after a mad scientist decimates humanity with a designer disease … What's delightful about this novel is that Atwood always balances philosophically weighty topics with a humorous realism. Yes, there is a search for meaning and spiritual sustenance here, but there are also petty jealousies among the Gardeners and arguments over who will do the chores. Post-apocalyptic life, observes our Gardener protagonist Toby, is kind of like high school … Atwood relishes a good apocalypse, and there is no nostalgic invitation to mourn the loss of humanity here. The waterless flood that pulped our species is never portrayed as anything but the clearcutting we deserved. As a result, there's no ambiguity about the apocalypse bringing about a utopia. Genocide is the best thing that could have happened to us.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesThe one shortcoming of A Burglar's Guide to the City is its fragmented structure, full of tangents and digressions which add up to hundreds of vignettes but no sustained narrative. Manaugh offers us dollops of everything he researched, without a full meal ... Still, the kaleidoscopic pattern of this book is its strength too. It's not just a guide to crimes of the city; it's a theory of cities, and the psychological contortions required to live in tiny boxes right alongside each other, with only thin, easily broken walls between us. You'll never look at your home the same way again.