Recent Readings

Schlosser 2014.  Command and Control.  Schlosser combines a history of Cold War strategic thinking with a detailed look at accidents with nuclear weapons. 

Carroll 2013.  Brave Genius.  Carroll tells the entwined stories of Albert Camus, novelist and philosopher, and Jacques Monod, biologist.  

Dennison 2012.  Darwinian Agriculture.  Dennison's evolutionary perspective on agriculture asks interesting and important questions about perennial crops and genetic efforts to increase yields.

Pinker 2012.  The Better Angels of our Nature:  Why Violence has Declined.  Pinker looks at violence broadly - in warfare, homocide, towards women - and gathers data to make his case.  While he admits that showing cause and effect are difficult, he credits the ideas of the enlightenment. 

Stager 2011.  Deep Future: the Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth.  Stager looks beyond 2100, where most global warming studies end. 

Mukherjee 2010.  The Emperor of all Maladies.  If you were ever in doubt about the power of basic research, read this. 

Oreskes and Conway 2010.  Merchants of Doubt:  How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming.  An astonishing history of the use of doubt to slow action.  The same handful of scientists - many of them veterans of the nuclear weapons program - appear over and over. 

Oliver 2008.  Eating the sun.  Combines a history of the earth's climate with tales of the meticulous experiments that unraveled the cellular machinery of photosynthesis.

Old Favorites

Hecht 2004. Doubt: a history.  A celebration of doubters, written as if a very knowledgeable historian were telling her best stories after dinner. 

Thomas 1974.  Lives of a cell.  (A book that sparked my interest in biology. Short essays are still fun, even if the scientific revolutions of 1975 are now all familiar. His raptures over Bach masses and Beethoven quartets pointed me towards music that I might have never otherwise heard). 

Desmond and Moore 1991.  Darwin: the life of a tormented evolutionist.  (Excellent biography – vividly creates the context of Darwin’s life). 

Camus 1948.  The Plague. 

Cummings 1950.  XAIPE.