PositiveThe Washington Post... presents the reader with an exploration of this new religion — its leaders, schisms and followers — while reading like a travel narrative ... Scoles successfully navigates between otherizing (making people into bizarre, foreign objects) and going native (becoming one of the group observed). She is charitable, treating those she meets as rounded individuals full of hope and pain, not as a motley collection of rubes and charlatans to be mocked. Yet, she maintains her position as an outsider journalist making sense of the intricate stew of conspiracy theory, spectacle and kitsch. Scoles marries a thoughtful objectivity with a warm subjectivity as she talks to serious-minded UFO report investigators, tour guides for ET sightseers, and movers and shakers in the UFOlogy community.
PositiveThe Washington PostThe great virtue of Cooper’s discussion is that it gives readers a picture of living science. Too often, science is presented as fixed, solved, completed. Cooper shows us scientists disagreeing, presenting and supporting alternative theories, and gives clear discussions of the differing views, letting the science live ... the source of fascinating insights.
MixedThe Washington Post\"For the vast majority of McGilligan’s telling, the Mel of the Mel Brooks brand is Bad Mel. And not just bad, but a new Jewish supervillan, the Incredible Schmuck, who, whenever anyone else receives credit or compensation for creative work, turns green with envy and rages in a destructive, often litigious fury that wrecks anything and anyone who gets in his way, friend or foe. Good Mel becomes a mere mask that Bad Mel could wear when trying to sway judges or woo potential investors ... McGilligan’s cataloguing of the artistic, financial and personal atrocities of Bad Mel constitutes the main thrust of the telling of Brooks’s life story. You do not come away from the book feeling like you have spent time with Mel Brooks. Rather, you feel like you were on a long car ride with Brooks’s gossipy, catty accountant. In exploring a prolific figure in show business, we get lots of business and much less show ... McGilligan is so enthusiastic about the destructive aspects that the complexity becomes caricature...The minimal descriptions of his caring thereby seem peculiar ... For those who want an in-depth account of Mel Brooks, the ruthless businessman, Funny Man is for you. For those who want a genuine funny book about the man, you’ll feel more like you were ruthlessly given the business.\
PositiveThe Washington PostSearching for Stars on an Island in Maine is what we can call a grand unified intellectual narrative ... The book comprises 20 short vignettes, each dedicated to a big idea — stars, truth, centeredness, death — weaving together expected and unexpected sources. The sections are short but thoughtful, allowing the reader to savor a piece at a time or to make a meal of the whole ... the book does, at points, feel like Chicken Soup for the Materialist’s Non-Existent Soul, but those moments are few, in a work of great range, sensitivity and thoughtfulness ... Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine demonstrates Lightman’s ability to make the most abstract notions accessible to all. No background is needed in physics, philosophy, religion or any other field to fully understand every step of the wide-ranging intellectual trek. No matter who you are, you will emerge ready to be more impressive at your next dinner party.