Mark Avery has assembled a beautiful storehouse of information in Remarkable Birds. Included are over 200 exquisite and highly detailed illustrations of birds in their natural habitats. The book divides its subject matter into eight diverse categories of birds, making it a useful reference volume. It discusses birds as common as the domestic pigeon and as exotic as the Hoopoe.
Moreover, the visual appeal of the book will entice even the casual reader into pages of quality reading material that detail the place of birds in literature, art, and history.
An added bonus is the list of internet sources and books for further reading found at the back of the book. The list is arranged in the same eight categories as the book. Readers will appreciate Dr. Avery‘s guidance in choosing appropriate additional reading material because of his experience and vast knowledge, including serving for over a decade as Conservation Director of Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
It is easy to imagine this book as a perfect gift for any birdwatcher, whether they be amateur or pro.
Thames & Hudson
The Ark’s Cargo: For the Love of Animals
Ark’s Cargo is a very in-depth and dear portrayal of a veterinarian’s route in achieving the peak of his animal dreams. This memoir and quasi travelogue is full of professional anecdotes and personal bonding experiences coupled with household responsibility and self-realization. Dr. Buisch pays extremely close attention to spirituality and expresses again and again his thankfulness to God because “you can be assured that amazing things can and will be accomplished” as such is the case of his heartwarming book and noble cause. Readers are privy to an array of intimate moments with the author, such as his education pathways, jobs post-veterinary school, unusual but fascinating career trainings henceforward, his marriage proposal and wedding, and ultimately, his assortment of global work assignments (some including his family unit and other successes shared alone).
Filled with zealous travel information and landmark history, Ark’s Cargo is rich with industry details, for example, about livestock, disease eradication programs, semen collection and quarantine stations, testing and health inspections, laboratory protocols and support, and more. We even explore life on a cargo ship as a fellow crew member escorting cattle across the North Atlantic, which renders the “scene from the biblical story of the flood that came shortly after Noah finished the building of his ark” and thus, marks the vast significance and weight of this ambitious title and the meaningful sequence of events. Most certainly a charming snapshot of the fruition of a creature-loving, fun-loving, adventure-seeking and policy-driven individual with a memorable journey to match, Dr. Buisch has the grasp of what it takes to measure and optimize performance in such a demanding and hands-on field, especially cultivating the personality and emotional response to contest with it.
Though Buisch remains modest and casual in his dialogue, with a great balance of technical language and the easy-to-read, he does not lose erudition for the sake of a showy culture. Ark’s Cargo is truly instructive and educational about veterinary passion and scientific task implementation, worship and duty, more so, the responsibility and exposure to “preserve the multitude of resources God has given us to enjoy” by honoring the rescue and recovery of animal inhabitants in its different milieus.
Sex, Love and DNA: What Molecular Biology Teaches Us About Being Human
Sex, Love and DNA is NOT is a textbook on molecular biology. Certainly beyond a molecular biology book for dummies (and there actually is one with that title), Schattner’s scientific manuscript, the first he’s written for nonscientists, is directed toward those who not only want to learn the most recent advances in genetic research, but more importantly to develop a healthy understanding about its complexities.
Scientist, educator, and seasoned writer Peter Schattner takes a difficult topic and translates it into everyday language. Logically, the place to begin is to understand the essential components of molecular biology – proteins and DNA. Yet Schattner’s approach to “going over the basics” is contrary to what one may expect. For instance, Schattner opens with a question: can a protein save you from AIDS? To best answer that question, Schattner uses stories and anecdotes and then breaks it down to mini lessons, so to speak (and in this case, proteins — “the most important building blocks of life”), which is followed by molecular studies. If fact, what makes his book so attention grabbing is Schattner’s fastidiousness to that question-story-research design and by always raising questions that have universal appeal.
Although Schattner divides his book into six parts, the sections each build upon one another “to tell a unified story” about the aspects of being human. Schattner’s initial question about AIDS is, in a fictional sense, a clever narrative hook since it is not only a hot-topic issue, but it also leads itself into the area of genealogy, which offers the best answer to the question. The research that has been done on paternal and maternal analysis and DNA testing, for examples, is nothing less than fascinating. Amid the enlightenment, Schattner makes sure to raise awareness about another aspect of DNA testing regarding its moral and ethical ramifications, especially in the area of unborn children.
Schattner addresses a plethora of questions that range from memory, intelligence and various emotions to a whole list of diseases and the concept of longevity, as well as the environmental implications that may affect many of those topics. Particularly striking to the latest molecular research are topics on sexual orientation and gender. Schattner takes readers to a whole new level of scientific knowledge that goes beyond XY and XX chromosomes, the distinguishable male and female factors that many may remember from biology class. Studies consistently prove that gene variants within the chromosomes definitely produce feminine traits within men and masculine traits within women. While determinants of gender identity are still mystifying scientists, Schattner concludes that “although we may not yet understand the biological details of sexual orientation or gender dysphoria, biology has already taught us important lessons, and the most important is that people who are homosexual or bisexual or transsexual are in no way deviant or sick. Their challenges rarely stem from their intrinsic differences, but rather from the hostile attitudes and behavior they have been forced to face.”
Sex, Love and DNA is not only immensely absorbing and eye opening from one chapter to the next, but a tool that offers readers an opportunity to come face to face with facts that, if taken seriously, will lead to wholesome viewpoints toward the human race.
In Defense of Chaos: The Chaology of Politics, Economics and Human Action
Prepare to have your mind stretched the way a sack containing cats on methamphetamines would be stretched; in a word, chaotically. Beginning with just a furry tickle, Mr. Samuels puts claws through our perceptions and expectations.
Without delving into the absolute minutiae of the mathematics of chaos theory, for which I am very grateful, he explores and firmly establishes the indeterminacies of reality. Anomalies have become rife in the observational and social sciences as our measurement capabilities and accumulated data have grown. Additionally, Pythagorean physics first wobbled with the establishment of Einstein’s relativity and our slide into uncertainty took a push from Heisenberg’s and Schrodinger’s gleeful revelations regarding uncertainty and indeterminacy.-Schrodinger’s cat being one of that drugged satchel of felines. Descent into the muddy waters of chaos has accelerated with mathematical explorations in quantum physics and discoveries of variability. It has even penetrated popular thinking, albeit sneakily and quietly. Everyone knows what the Butterfly Effect is, for example.
The tendency of complex systems: physical, chemical, biological, economic, social, toward dynamic interaction leading to more efficient organization and adaptability in seeming contradiction of the “law” of entropy, has lent itself to the science of chaology.
And having disestablished the certainties of absolute order and of control, Mr. Samuels turns firmly to human interactions, social, political, and economic. Herein lays the core of this work. Dynamics suffer under restraints, whether of interaction or of inputs, energetic or informational. Therefore centrally controlled economies fail, and partially-controlled economies fail only more slowly. Humans benefit from freedom; stable expectations follow the self-interest of free market actors, and interference for the sake of choosing who will succeed leads to the failure or inefficiency of all. The Libertarian bent of Samuels’ conclusions is clear and satisfying.
I cannot over-praise the scholastic depth and breadth of In Defense of Chaos. Every one of fourteen chapters is immediately followed by a source bibliography. Sources range eclectically from press commentary to in-depth analyses in every imaginable field of thought; Mr. Samuels’ erudition is awe inspiring and daunting.
Having said that, the man’s simplicity of expression, his evocation of well-known similes, and popular examples keep In Defense of Chaos fresh and readable throughout.
I am fronted now with a real limitation as to what I can evoke as a reviewer. Informational density and refreshing insights are so common here that I cannot touch on even a significant percentage of them. This wonderful striving will go on my “Distinguished and Significant” shelf.
Life: The Leading Edge of Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Anthropology, and Environmental Science
If the cited quote doesn’t turn you completely cuckoo, you may be the reader for this book. You may want to first check out edge.org to see if the style of information is accessible. If you are a fan of Richard Dawkins or Freeman Dyson, you will probably be able to understand this work better than I did. I found this book nearly impossible to read. It is a collection of essays and one large interview with a group of scientists talking to themselves. That chapter Life: What a Concept is as confusing as it could be. One scientist decries popular science books as too easy. Why shouldn’t science be easy? Sometimes a simpler explanation without the use of jargon is much harder for a scientist to write. A good example of clear writing is Stephen Hawkins or Loren Eisley.
A particularly good chapter is entitled Duck Sex and Aesthetic Evolution by Richard Plum. Plum writes about beauty found in nature: his writing is clear and accessible. Recommended for the serious scientist.
The amount of research Al McDowell has undertaken to collect material for his book Uncommon Knowledge is admirable. He scoured scores and scores of the scientific literature, listed under references. He selected this literature from the point of view of opposing current scientific thinking on more than half a dozen subjects. These are profound, basic foundations of science, such as gravity, the Big Bang, the origin of life, but also the Biblical flood and Noah’s Ark. McDowell goes deep into physics, astronomy, and theory of evolution. So deep that he devotes full fifty-two pages on disproving the theory of relativity, sixty-three pages on disproving Darwin’s theory of evolution, for example. The details are simply painstaking, and most readers will quickly lose interest—and get lost on high-caliber scientific information. This book was clearly written for scientists who may be able to follow McDowell’s logic. He questioned such basic concept as the origin of gravity. Or brings up ideas that extraterrestrials visiting our Planet may have been able to levitate, already having all of our own technology within their power, including electric batteries, light bulbs and atomic weapons. Yet he attempts to explain even the Biblical flood by having a distant planet (Nibiru) approach the Earth, and by gravitational pull create a flood two miles deep near the equator.
The first question in most readers’ mind is how McDowell—with a Ph.D. in business economics—is qualified to write on these subjects. In fact, he simply brings information he collected and assembled all in a book form. His writing is not easy—long, complicated sentences make understanding even more difficult. It would have been an excellent idea to summarize each chapter in a condensed half page. These are certainly foods for thoughts, and some readers may enjoy reading the pages if they weren’t so extreme in details and so extensive.
Uncommon Knowledge may be an interesting book if it were shortened to one-third or less of its current length, and having an editor make it more reader friendly.