PositiveThe Wall Street JournalMs. Petrzela’s account moves at a quick-lap pace: She scans the market from top to bottom, from the Equinox gym to the Zumba class in a local church hall ... The author’s own hybrid career gives her insider access to the fitness industry and how it operates, particularly the often-marginal economics for those teaching the classes.
RaveThe Washington PostThe world she introduces to the reader is fascinating, both on scientific and historical levels. Biologically speaking, beavers should be fairly dim based on their brain-to-body ratio, but their teamwork and focus, as well as knack for engineering, suggest otherwise ... This lyrical exploration is a portal for readers to enter into the mysteries of that world themselves.
John Wood Sweet
PositiveThe Times (UK)Sweet brings vividly to life the New York community in which Lanah Sawyer grew up ... In a world in which her \'loss of honour\' could cost dearly, Sawyer’s feelings are only gleaned circumstantially, recorded by others. We see her by turns defiant and despondent, and despite much of her life slipping through archival cracks, Sweet makes us care about her, about her pursuit of justice, and how she made it through ... Sweet skids a little too far for my taste into speculations and marginal discussions (the landholdings of distant relatives and so on) before pulling back to the main story — Sawyer’s survival. This is the sort of book you want to snap shut at the end in relief, as you return from the murky injustices of history into the clear light of the present. No such luck.
PositiveThe Wall Street JournalIn God in Gotham: The Miracle of Religion in Modern Manhattan, Jon Butler considers these media innovations as but one part of religion’s evolving role in the city ... This tolerant, ecumenical spirit seems organic to a city in which religious buildings are abandoned and then repurposed by successive group ... Mr. Butler sees hope for the city’s religious future, in the form of evangelical Christianity, Orthodox Judaism and the arrival of new faiths from around the world.
PositiveThe Spectator (UK)Hansen argues quite persuasively about the role of the Norse in creating new ways of trade and exploring different parts of the world ... Much of what is described here has only been fully understood in recent decades, as science has advanced to aid archaeology. Satellite mapping of terrain and DNA testing of remains have allowed narratives to be linked in ways scholars could only surmise in the past. I was fascinated to learn that the Norse made it to Madeira before the Portuguese — and that this was proved by the DNA of mice that came along for the trip. The Year 1000 is a tour-de-force and offers many new ways of thinking about the past.
Kassia St. Clair
PositiveThe Spectator (UK)The history of ‘women’s work’ being devalued is very much a part of textile history ... In this book, Kassia St Clair looks at the developments of textiles through human history, and explains how our ancestors’ lives were shaped by these changes. In her journey, she touches on everything from the materials that went into Neil Armstrong’s space suit to biotech firms experimenting with spider silk ... Having read St Clair’s accounts of factory workers’ horrific injuries, I’ll certainly think again before buying anything rayon. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to look at the textiles in our world with a new understanding.