PositiveThe Times (UK)Goulson is a biologist with an inordinate fondness for insects ... This book is his attempt to educate us in their eccentric beauty and their absolute necessity ... The best advice is to do what Goulson does — look and wonder ... Insects are the most vivid expressions of the astounding fact of life in what may be a dead universe. Read this book, then look and wonder.
RaveThe Sunday TImes (UK)This book tells the story brilliantly. Business books are usually boring, but this one is well paced and cleverly organised. It also draws some devastating conclusions about our over-financialised economies ... In a scorching epilogue the authors draw all the right conclusions ... This is tough stuff and this is a tough book that should contribute to much greater scepticism about the bloated financial system. But it probably won’t. Money talks, or rather as Bob Dylan sang, it swears.
MixedThe Times (UK)The writing [...] is okayish, except when Schmidle aims for some higher effect ... Cutting through all this, there is an interesting book trying to get out. This is about Branson and Rutan but also about Bezos and Musk and the whole landscape of private sector space ... The clearest thing to emerge, perhaps unintentionally, from this book is that space will always be much riskier than any other form of travel. Having read Test Gods, I won’t be accepting any freebies from Virgin Galactic; life’s already too short ... Overlong, overpadded, unfocused and far too self-conscious, this is, nevertheless, an interesting book. Its real subject is the quasi-religious longing to go beyond our earth-bound lives. But also it warns us that space is hard, perhaps too hard.
MixedThe Times (UK)... strange, hybrid ... I was expecting this to be a biography of Doudna. It is, in part, but it is also a history of DNA and CRISPR research, a story about women in science, a digression on the significance of yoghurt, a long moral essay and an account that feels interminable of laboratory politics ... One problem for Isaacson must have been that Doudna is neither as famous nor as charismatic as his previous subjects. She is not a narcissist or an eccentric. Also, many other people were involved in the crucial discoveries. Yet the real problem is that readers cannot be assumed to know anything about CRISPR and gene editing, whereas they would have known a good deal about the work of Jobs and Einstein. The real-world impact of this discovery just hasn’t happened yet ... This is a hard book to read. It is poorly organised and much space is wasted on lab politics. But nobody knows this stuff and these people, and explains them, quite like Isaacson. If you need to know about CRISPR — and you do — this is the place to start.
PanThe Times (UK)This book is bizarre ... Hendrickson, whose research seems to be Herculean, constantly corrects the mistakes of earlier biographers ... This book is not the place to begin if you want to know more. It is egregiously over-written with silly authorial interpolations ... Furthermore, it is perhaps 200 pages too long, because the author persists in drowning us in pointless paragraphs and unnecessary detail about marginal characters or incidents. This is detail masquerading as depth, a common fault in certain types of American journalism.
PositiveThe Times\"[Zuboff] is not the first to expose the iniquities of Big Tech, but she is the most comprehensive and impassioned ... This is an important book, the most thorough take down of Big Tech I have read. It is, however, too long and too eccentric. Descriptions of her personal journey do not add to Zuboff’s authority and nor does the broadening of her case to include the usual demon of neoliberalism and, for some reason, the riots in Britain in 2011. She should do a shorter, punchier version if she really wants to promote resistance and outrage among the ordinary punters...\
MixedThe Sunday TimesSusskind deftly winds his way through the possibilities (a universal basic wage, tight regulation and checking of code, new forms of democracy and accountability, humans in the algorithms’ decision loops) but he doesn’t quite attain optimism ... The book’s shortcoming is that it is a bit too general and theoretical. I don’t think we should take, as Susskind seems to, the current control of the internet by a few giant monopolies as a given ... But, in fairness, Susskind acknowledges that specific prophecies are almost always wrong. His writing is clear and precise; he is a lawyer, he is making a case. Irritatingly, he puts in too many (one would be too many) cheeky-chappy asides ... We can fix this, is his message, but there is also the nagging sense that we probably won’t.
MixedThe Times (UK)This is an important book, a must-read guide to one enormous aspect of the human future. It is slow going, not because it is badly written but because of the compression of so many complex ideas into such a relatively short space ... It concludes with the standard scientist’s pay-off calling for more debate because \'genetics is much too important to leave to geneticists alone\'. The problem is that genetics also shows that debate will have as little effect as a mother’s love on the outcome.
RaveThe TimesThe animals that are moving into built-up areas are adapting and even evolving at breathtaking speed in response to this new and richly varied ecosystem. Not only are those mosquitoes, for example, a new strain, they also vary according to which Tube line they inhabit. Evolution in the city is quick and precise. In saying this, Schilthuizen is taking on three centuries of literature and polemic that defends the virtues of rural nature against the vices of city life ... This is a spellbinding and important book. Its only notable flaws are the bewilderingly dumb title and equally dumb cover picture of a zebra on a zebra crossing. Never mind, the message is thrilling. We might be reasonably fearful of our vast urban agglomerations, but at least we can console ourselves that they are not the sterile, alienated wastelands of the post-industrial imagination. For us, and countless forms of our distant relatives, they are just a new home.
MixedThe TimesThis is a compendious book and insofar as it has a theme it is captured by that word \'admixture\'. All humans, in spite of countless local mythologies, are a hopeless genetic stew. DNA tells us that no purist claim of special heredity, ancient or modern, makes any sense whatsoever ... The book is, frankly, a bit of a slog. Reich recounts his work but does not really elucidate or dramatise it effectively, so this feels like a semi-academic text. It is also unclear in its organisation — I thought I’d reached the last page on at last half a dozen occasions. But its importance cannot be overstated and neither can some of its best stories.