RaveThe ObserverIt is stimulating, entertaining stuff. Dartnell has an easy, light touch that mixes well with his considerable knowledge of our planet’s geological history. The result is a first-class read – and an important one, for we should never forget we are still beholden to the rocks below us.
PositiveThe Guardian\"In the end, Rutherford nearly runs out of candidates before plumping, somewhat desperately, for one last remaining attribute that he believes defines humanity: our intense social bonding and our desire to share ideas. This is the critical factor that separates Homo sapiens most conclusively from the rest of the animal kingdom, he argues. \'Where we stand apart most significantly is in cultural accumulation and transmission. Many animals learn. Only humans teach\' ... It is an interesting but scarcely revolutionary conclusion, though this should not detract from a book that is deftly outlined, concisely constructed and filled with intriguing observations and anecdotes. Rutherford is an engaging, witty writer. He is also a concise one. After several vast but worthy tomes about human nature that have been published recently, that makes this pithy homage to our species all the more welcome. An entertaining and blessedly succinct read.\
PositiveThe Observer...Liquid has charms and demonstrates much of Miodownik’s literary flair, but sadly falls short of the quality of its predecessor. A major problem stems from the book’s central artifice in which a hypothetical transatlantic plane journey is used to highlight the different types of liquids that run our lives ... The device starts off as being mildly entertaining (at best) but becomes a teeth-grinding irritant long before Miodownik has sucked his subject of its life blood. And that’s a shame because he is certainly a skilled and witty writer, his succinct style going some way towards overcoming the restrictions imposed by his book’s format ... In place of a few droplets of intriguing information, Liquid would have been a better read if it had provided at least a moderate flow of stimulating prose. As it is, the book leaves the reader feeling unrefreshed and rather drained.
PositiveThe GuardianEntertaining, sympathetic ... provides a fresh perspective on the Zeppelin story by focusing on the group’s enabler rather than the musicians.
MixedThe GuardianWe use words like sister and aunt as if they describe rigid laws of biology,\' says Zimmer in his fascinating—though overlong—exploration of the glorious complexities of human heredity. \'But these laws are really only rules of thumb. Under the right conditions, they can be readily broken.\' To illustrate these points, Zimmer highlights other cases of human chimeras as well as examples of children who have been found to possess tissue that contains colonies of cells belonging to other individuals, often their mothers or fathers ... The legacy of early geneticists is also a matter of concern for Zimmer ... Zimmer is deftly persuasive in exposing their iniquities. Yes, intelligence has a degree of heritability to it, but it is anything but straightforward in operation.
Daniel H. Pink
PositiveThe GuardianIn other words, regardless of culture or differing daily rituals, our moods follow a rigorous pattern that is 'crucial, unexpected and revealing', according to Pink who believes the quality of the decisions we make are closely linked with their timing ...describes his book as not so much a how-to manual for making the most of our lives but a 'when-to' guide ... It is intriguing stuff written with a light, assured touch by Pink, an expert on motivation and management who is at pains to stress that modern science shows that scheduling and careful timing of our daily routines is crucial to our wellbeing. Much of this advice is common sense. On the other hand, it is reassuring to be told, with confidence, that naps and leisurely daily walks are 'not niceties, but necessities.'
RaveThe Guardian...[a] sumptuous, elegantly written and diligently produced offering that perfectly catches the contradictions of the man: an easily distracted obsessive who created stunning art and then – all too often – abandoned it when it was near completion. The book has reproductions of all these works, finished and unfinished, with careful descriptions of their creation as well as details of his notebooks and plans. For good measure, a four-page illustrated timeline is added to ease the reader through Leonardo’s labyrinthine life ... [a] splendid work that provides an illuminating guide to the output of one of the last millennium’s greatest minds.
PositiveThe GuardianFlight Behaviour is an impressive work. It is complex, elliptical and well-observed. Dellarobia and her kin come over as solid but believable individuals, outlined with respect and balance. Even Cub, her much put-upon simpleton of a husband, and his dreadful, manipulative mother Hester, are ultimately accorded sympathy … It is the issue of climate change that hangs, unspoken, over proceedings and it is left to Ovid Byron to give it resonance. Pestered by a hardened TV journalist to explain the monarchs' strange appearance in the Appalachians, he is outraged when she doubts that global warming is real and suggests that climate change deniers might be right...The diatribe becomes a viral hit on the internet. Thus Kingsolver makes her message clear.
RaveThe GuardianIt is an extraordinary story and Wadman is to be congratulated, not just for uncovering it but for relaying it in such a pacy, stimulating manner. This is a first-class piece of science writing that does considerable justice to Hayflick, a character who achieved great things but let his pigheadedness lead him into trouble.
Edward O. Wilson
PanThe GuardianFor Wilson, there is only one solution. We must increase the land we have set aside for reserves for protecting wild plants and animals until this terrain covers half the globe ... Unfortunately, having prepared his case so carefully, Wilson then stops in his tracks and hesitates, providing no detail of the measures needed to ensure his goal is completed or any indication of how we can expand nature reserves so they reach the Half-Earth status he craves. Nor does he offer any inkling of what territories should be annexed or what funding mechanisms or agreements will be required to achieve his goal. This is a pretty serious limitation ... A book that was a little more prescriptive would certainly have been welcome. This is not say that Half-Earth is a washout. As an outline of our terrible ecological plight, it does a first-class job. Wilson is, if nothing else, a gifted wordsmith and Half-Earth is a much-needed antidote to the views of those who assert that our worldly woes are exaggerated and that everything is tickety-boo in the Garden of Eden.
MixedThe GuardianMukherjee is an assured, polished wordsmith who displays a penchant for the odd adroit aphorism and well-placed pun ... This is a big book, bursting with complex ideas; without careful presentation, the reader would have struggled ... I found the book’s priorities erratic ... The latter stages of the narrative also present us with a rather irritating American triumphalism ... Fortunately, these flaws do not detract seriously from an otherwise well-written, accessible and entertaining account of one of the most important of all scientific revolutions, one that is destined to have a fundamental impact on the lives of generations to come. The Gene is an important guide to that future.