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1. A Short History of Nearly Everything
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2. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous
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3. A World Without Time
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4. A Brief History of Time : The
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5. The Complete Art of War (History
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6. Telecom Crash Course
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7. The Golden Ratio : The Story of
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8. Longitude: The True Story of a
9. The History of GIS (Geographic
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10. The Double Helix : A Personal
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11. The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye
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12. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
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13. E=mc2: A Biography of the World's
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14. How to Prepare for the OGT : Ohio
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15. Masters of Chaos: The Secret History
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16. The Great Influenza: The Epic
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17. Electric Universe : The Shocking
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18. Essentials of Physical Geography
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19. The Bomb : A Life,
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20. The Ancestor's Tale : A Pilgrimage

1. A Short History of Nearly Everything
list price: $15.95
our price: $10.85
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 076790818X
Catlog: Book (2004-09-14)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 141
Average Customer Review: 4.47 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Bill Bryson is one of the world’s most beloved and bestselling writers.In A Short History of Nearly Everything, he takes his ultimate journey–into the most intriguing and consequential questions that science seeks to answer.It’s a dazzling quest, the intellectual odyssey of a lifetime, as this insatiably curious writer attempts to understand everything that has transpired from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization.Or, as the author puts it, “…how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since.”This is, in short, a tall order.

To that end, Bill Bryson apprenticed himself to a host of the world’s most profound scientific minds, living and dead.His challenge is to take subjects like geology, chemisty, paleontology, astronomy, and particle physics and see if there isn’t some way to render them comprehensible to people, like himself, made bored (or scared) stiff of science by school.His interest is not simply to discover what we know but to find out how we know it.How do we know what is in the center of the earth, thousands of miles beneath the surface?How can we know the extent and the composition of the universe, or what a black hole is?How can we know where the continents were 600 million years ago?How did anyone ever figure these things out?

On his travels through space and time, Bill Bryson encounters a splendid gallery of the most fascinating, eccentric, competitive, and foolish personalities ever to ask a hard question.In their company, he undertakes a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only this superb writer can render it.Science has never been more involving, and the world we inhabit has never been fuller of wonder and delight.
... Read more

Reviews (236)

4-0 out of 5 stars Just like on PBS
I like Bill Bryson's writing style. This is a book one wishes they read as a teenager. It really brings science alive. One feels like they are witnessing events as they occur in the first person. I like how Bryson takes scientific topics and makes them simple too understand. Bryson puts numbers in perspective and helps the reader understand the spatial enormity or complexity of the elements, atom, planets, and stars. Its easy to retell a Bryson story because they have good imagination well connect ideas that flow into an interesting story without sounding too intellectual. Like, "What is it like to be inside of an Cell? How do cells work? Who discovered DNA and why?" Question like these.

I think reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything" is a great introduction to science, astronomy, biology, and geology. Bryson keeps the narrative down to earth, terminology to a minimum, and brings out interesting viewpoints on the birth of the cosmos, the self-repairing DNA, life on planet earth, and the composition of the earth.

Bryson did a job not boring the reader with the mysteries of science. Its entertaining reading and not difficult material to understand. Bryson presents thought provoking material that makes one want to read many other published books by Bryson.

5-0 out of 5 stars He Really Does Cover Nearly Everything
Bill Bryson is one of those rare non-fiction writers who can combine anecdote, humor and actual information, all in one book. Here he covers the history of the earth, starting with the big bang and covering all sorts of ground since then, including why you should be really afraid of meteors (by the time we spot the big one it'll be too late) and why you should think twice about that next visit to Yellowstone (the big one is about due).

As with most of his books it's clear he's done a lot of research, and the book is larded with the kind of stories about Famous Scientists that you've probably never heard...but also full of the sort of survey scientific information that will leave you thinking you've learned something really interesting.

Definitely worth picking up.

Who will like it: lovers of pop science, lovers of Bill Bryson, people willing to read a thick book from start to finish.

Who won't like it: people bored by pop science or any science at all.

5-0 out of 5 stars Rediscover what you learned in school and forgot
This book is aimed at people who either know very little about science, or who studied it in school and then forgot it all (my case). I read some of the reviews here and was shocked at how people criticize Bryson, especially saying he got scientific terms mixed up or had errors in his book. He is not a scientist and in my opinion that makes this book that much more impressive! Bryson devoted years of his life to learn this material, and to think we can take it all in by reading a book.. well it just doesn't seem fair! I was sad when I reached the end of the book, I wanted it to continue. I learned so much from this book, and it's interesting how many times the subject material in this book comes up in every day conversations.

Bryson approaches history from two angles: Astronomy and what we know about the universe, and Evolution and what we know about life on Earth. I learned so many things I didn't know. Fascinating facts such as that meteorites are used to date the earth with carbon dating (they're the same age). Meteorites contain proteins needed to build life. Human like species have been on Earth for 1 million years. After finishing this book, I find myself thinking about topics like these during my free time. That's how impressive this book is. If you love science, this won't be a book you just read and forget. It's a book that will teach you things you'll be thinking about for a long time.

Honestly I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you're interested in science, it is a must read.


5-0 out of 5 stars Tabloid history of science
The book's title is very gripping but somewhat misleading - it is in fact a book of science tabloids - in a good way. It covers basic findings and histories of almost all major areas of natural sciences in a shallow but easy to follow manner. It is not intended to be introductory to science and science history (find a textbook instead), it is a fun-fact book of science and science history.

This book is full of interesting anecdotes of science and scientists behind scene, which makes the reading stimulating and gives the readers a joyful sense of "discovery". Here are just a few examples top of my mind:

- Components of your daily household cleaning powders like Comet and Ajax are made from the huge ash deposit in eastern Nebraska - they are leftover volcanic ashes from the ancient monstrous eruption of Yellowstone.

- Marie Curie, the only person to win Nobel prize in both chemistry and physics, was never elected to the French academy of sciences largely because she had an affair with a married fellow physicist after Pierre Curie died in a traffic accident. Madame Curie eventually died of leukemia and her papers and lab books (even her cookbooks) are so dangerously contaminated by radiation that those who wish to see them must wear protective clothing.

- Clair Patterson (a University of Chicago alumnus), who in 1953 gave the definitive measurement of the age of the Earth (4,550 million years - plus or minus 70 millions) by analyzing lead/uranium ratios in old rocks and meteorites, was also the leading expert in atmospheric lead poisoning and the early advocate of cleaning lead additives from manmade product. To his credit, Clean Air Act 1970 eventually led to the ban of leaded gasoline in United States in 1986. Almost immediately the blood lead level in Americans dropped 80%.

Informative tabloids like these are all over the book. Bryson did a perfect job of bringing dull facts in history of science into fun everyday life experience. He compiled a huge amount of anecdotes from otherwise hard to find sources and weaved them together seamlessly in fluid and humorous writing. It makes the reading of science fun.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book you would be able to read in your lifetime!
By reading this book you realize how lucky you are to be here right now. To be reading this in front of your computer is an acomplishment that you may not realize. It shows how much we know about ourselves and the enviroment around us. "A Short History of Nearly Everything" explains in full detail how we became who we are, how we survived, and how impossible it is to do so. If you are interested in science and are looking for something to read, this well-written story is a great page-turner. ... Read more

2. Zero: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea
by Charles Seife, Matt Zimet
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140296476
Catlog: Book (2000-09-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 10850
Average Customer Review: 3.68 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Charles Seife traces the origins and colorful history of the number zero from Aristotle to superstring theory by way of Pythagoras, the Kabbalists, and Einstein. Weaving together ancient dramas and state-of-the-art science, Zero is a concise tour of a universe of ideas bound up in the simple notion of nothingness. ... Read more

Reviews (82)

3-0 out of 5 stars A good summary
Despite the abstract nature of it's subject matter, this book is a surprisingly breezy and informative read about the history of zero and it's value in the mathematics (and scientific) revolutions of the 1600s and still today. It's part history, part math primer, and part practical guide, with the later chapters focussing on how the zero is used in physics and astronomy.

Seiff has an engaging style and he doesn't talk down or talk above the reader. Although Seiff obviously is an expert in difficult math, he doesn't overwhelm you with equations or get too abstract. Even sections on trig and calculus are written in everyday language that you can easily follow. The book does begin to trail off at Chapter 7-8, from here much of the book seems like filler. I preferred "The Nothing That Is" (also about the zero number) a little because I was more interested in the history and that book covers it more, but Seiff still does a fine job here with history of zero, and his book is probably more useful for students trying to know how to use the zero and it's concepts for their math classes, especially figuring out the limit and other calculations.

5-0 out of 5 stars A very engaging, interesting, and enlightening read
The title of this book is "Zero: the Biography of a Dangerous Idea." Certainly, what Charles Seife wrote does not disappoint: it IS a biography of zero. It starts from its conception in early history, and progresses to outline its development in history through the branches of mathematics, physics, art, and even philosophy. A previous reader was disappointed that the book took time to focus on physics and philosophy, but keep in mind that zero is not limited only to the mathematical realm. Indeed, it is pervasive in society, and it has affected the way we view the world. So to talk about zero yet disregard its important contributions to fields other than mathematics would be a travesty.

Seife's book is a very engaging and enlightening read. Seife looks at how zero has become: the foundation for calculus (taking limits to zero), a revolutionary idea in art (3d drawings have a point of infinity to give depth perception...and infinity and zero are just different sides of the same coin), an important concept of the numberline, and many other places. Indeed, I have read this book many times, sometimes for a quick browse and sometimes for an indepth read, and it has always been a pleasure to read.

Moreover, Seife is very knowledgeable in what he writes, and he brings a sense of humor as well--if you have ever read his article about the debate on cold fusion in 'Science' or 'Scientific American' (it was one or the other, its been a while since that article was published in the early 90s I believe) you'll see his sense of humor in his concluding paragraph (cold fusion or confusion anyone?).

And in response to another review earlier, the reader said that in the appendix there was a proof where a=1 and b=1, and from the equation a^2 - b^2 = a^2 - ab it can be found that 1=0 by factoring the difference of squares and dividing by (a-b). The reader commented that this is dividing by 0, that such an operation violates a fundamental law of algebra (cannot divide by zero), and that an editor should have caught it.

The point is that Seife is showing WHY you cannot divide by 0, that the result is 1=0 and that logic and mathematics would be invalid. He is showing why zero may be a 'dangerous idea'!

In conclusion, this book is superb in its writing and content. It lives up to what it was meant to do, to show the development of zero through history. It is clear, concise, and witty. You will not be disappointed.

4-0 out of 5 stars Zero is fundamental
Entertaining book for students of philosophy, historians, and math neophytes, but Seife's simple-minded application of the principle of the conservation of energy to the quantum electrodynamic sea of spacetimemassenergy, i.e. the "zero point field," among other things, reveals him to be among the least imaginitive of physicists. His dismissive proposition that "nothing can come from nothing," overlooks the very simple fact that the QED sea of energy is hardly "nothing," otherwise there would be no such thing as Brownian motion or the Casimir Effect, not to mention the space, time, mass, and energy of our universe. Hal Puthoff claims that a cupful of this so called "vacuum energy" could boil away the oceans of our planet. (The most intriguing concept of "zero" is that promulageted by today's heretics such as Tom Bearden.) Presumably, however, Seife's math and philosophical history of zero is accurate. Before reading this book, this reader had known very little of it, and it was this part that he found quite enjoyable.

1-0 out of 5 stars Jumbled mess of ideas
This is a mildly interesting and entertaining book about history of zero that unfortunately tries to be too cute with its style and to pull in so many unrelated ideas, it loses focus as you turn the pages. When "Zero" stays on topic it's OK. Seife has a pretty good grounding in most of the history, and it was facsinating to read about how the number was used for such simple purpose for Babylonians but became so important for abstract number systems later.

Middle section of the book deals with zero in calculus, useful for any student toughing it out thru intro calc. But Seife gets too drawn in to all the goofy philosophical wanderings you can make about zero, he goes off on way too many tangents that don't make sense. Yes, you can't divide 1 by 0 and the number has a special role in most operations, but how do these properties threaten to bring down the whole framework of math (to paraphrase)? There's all kinds of talk about how zero and infinity are just two sides of the same coin-- why? The author tries to sound like a sage but doesn't make much sense with the claims on these pages.

Whole thing comes apart in the last couple of chapters on physics, cosmology, and applied math which are slim on facts and chock-full of flowery language about how important zero is but where the author really doesn't back his claims. In fact, as the book goes on it seems to make less sense, as though it doesn't quite know what it's supposed to be saying as it moves farther afield from history and calculus. Why are these later chapters even here? They don't add anything and detract from the book's overall value.

4-0 out of 5 stars Zero is not just a number, its a way of life
A very interesting book. The Author shows how mindsets, philosophies and cultures had to change to enable the Zero to be accepted. The West overlooked then resisted the idea of zero.
When the zero idea took hold and was finally accepted it affected everything from Aristoteloism, to commerce, to Art. Even the biblical creation stories took on a different light.
Art in the West during the Renaissance gained a major improvement
as the sense of perspective was developed. This vanishing point within a painting is the equivalnt of the introduction of Zero into the art world .
I would read other books by this author, interesting history, The book moves right along, I like the Author's style, plenty of background, but always stayed the coure. I believe an audio book
is probably not the correct format for this information. I would have liked to have seen the test portraying some of the
equtions. ... Read more

3. A World Without Time
by Palle Yourgrau
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0465092934
Catlog: Book (2005-01-01)
Publisher: Basic Books
Sales Rank: 1743655
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Book Description

It is a widely known but insufficiently appreciated fact that Albert Einstein and Kurt Goedel were best friends for the last decade and a half of Einstein's life. They walked home together from Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study every day; they shared ideas about physics, philosophy,politics, and the lost world of German-Austrian science in which they had grown up. What is not widely known is that in 1949 Goedel made a remarkable discovery: there exist possible worlds described by the theory of relativity in which time, as we ordinarily understand it, does notexist.He added a philosophical argument that demonstrates, by Goedel's lights, that as a consequence, time does not exist in our world either.If Goedel is right, Einstein has not just explained time; he has explained it away.

Without committing himself to Goedel's philosophical interpretation of his discovery, Einstein acknowledged that his friend had made an important contribution to the theory of relativity, a contribution that he admitted raised new and disturbing questions about what remains of time in his own theory. Physicists since Einstein have tried without success to find an error in Goedel's physics or a missing element in relativity itself that would rule out the applicability of Goedel's results. Philosophers, for the most part, have been silent.

_A World Without Time_, addressed to experts and non experts alike, brings to life the sheer intellectual drama of the companionship of Goedel and Einstein, and places their discoveries -- which can only be measured on a millennial scale -- in the context of the great and disturbing intellectual movements of the twentieth century -- in physics, mathematics, logic, philosophy, and the arts. It contains, as well, a poignant and intimate account of the friendship between these two thinkers, each put on the shelf by the scientific fashions of their day -- and ours -- and attempts to rescue from undeserved obscurity the work Goedel did, inspired by Einstein, which made clear for the first time the truly revolutionary nature of the theory of relativity, which to this day is hardly recognized. ... Read more

4. A Brief History of Time : The Updated and Expanded Tenth Anniversary Edition
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.86
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0553380168
Catlog: Book (1998-09-01)
Publisher: Bantam
Sales Rank: 1521
Average Customer Review: 4.42 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A Brief History of Time, published in 1988, was a landmark volume in science writing and in world-wide acclaim and popularity, with more than 9 million copies in print globally. The original edition was on the cutting edge of what was then known about the origins and nature of the universe. But the ensuing years have seen extraordinary advances in the technology of observing both the micro- and the macrocosmic world--observations that have confirmed many of Hawking's theoretical predictions in the first edition of his book.

Now a decade later, this edition updates the chapters throughout to document those advances, and also includes an entirely new chapter on Wormholes and Time Travel and a new introduction. It make vividly clear why A Brief History of Time has transformed our view of the universe. ... Read more

Reviews (281)

5-0 out of 5 stars A classical predecessor of the Elegant Universe
Stephen Hawking is the first physicist who was able to combine the laws of the small - quantum mechanics - with the laws of the large - general relativity - to find out something fascinating: black holes evaporate. He was also the first man who published a book on theoretical physics that has become popular world-wide (about 9 million copies have been sold). Many readers have learned a lot of exciting things about our universe from this book. So did I - even though I was a student of theoretical physics. Although this book is not as perfect as Brian Greene's "The Elegant Universe", the successor of the Hawking's book in the position of the book on theoretical physics causing such a stir, "A Brief History of Time" will remain a tour de force, a pioneering work which began a new interest in physics among masses of people. That is why do I recommend you to read this book about the big bang, black holes, the quest for the ultimate theory and many other issues.

5-0 out of 5 stars Scientific Literacy
In the modern era, natural science is more than a lot of abstract thoughts and boring jargon--it is a leader of society. Newton's theory of physics, Darwin's theory of evolution, Heisenberg's uncertainty principle--all have changed the way we think about the world, influenced other disciplines, and ultimately changed society.

Because of this profound effect science has on society, it is important for the general public to understand the ideas and development of science. Unfortunately, it becomes increasingly difficult to do so as science becomes more specialized and technical.

Enter Stephen Hawking and 'A Brief History of Time.' The book is one of many great books that increase scientific literacy for ordinary people like me.

Only someone who fully understands the basic concepts of theoretical physics could put it into clear and easy prose as Hawking does. He outlines the progress of theoretical physics and the theories that attempt to describe the universe, all in plain English.

Hawking paints a picture of the universe--its beginning, its end, the direction of time, black holes-- with the wonder and curiosity of the child plus the style and confidence of a brilliant mind. One of the most brilliant minds in this century, as a matter of fact.

The final sentence about knowing the mind of God--"the ultimate triumph of human reason"--reminded me of that timeless scene in the Bible where the serpent convinces Adam and Eve to eat the apple.

Figuratively (*figuratively*) , that triumph is what we left Eden for. We have left Paradise for unknown horizons, for questions instead of answers, for a world of wonders. That quest is what A Brief History of Time is about. Do yourself a favor and read this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars a marvel of a book
This book is truly a gem.. small volume but packed with a density of information..
Explore fascinating topics you could not think about in your wildest DREAMS.. topics are Black holes, Entropy, Origins of universe, Time Travel.

Hawkings is truly a genius among geniuses.
(...) If you can finish the book, the knowledge is well worth it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction for the Curious Mind
For anybody who does not have sufficient knowledge to read some of Hawking's more complex writings, this is the perfect book to get started on. It introduces you to the concepts of astrophysics, in which are explained very well. Stephen Hawking uses humor and everyday scenarios to explain some difficult concepts of astrophysics. It is a great way to simply expand your knowledge by understanding the big bang, quantum mechanics, and even sub-atomic particles. Stephen Hawking is an excellent writer, not to mention the Albert Einstein of our time; he makes this book almost seem like a novel more than a non-fiction book. I highly recommend this book to pretty much anyone, because it introduces you to astrophysics, as well as just answering questions regarding time travel, or where we came from.

4-0 out of 5 stars Hawking is succinct, even-handed, and even funny.
A Brief History of Time is 3 things at once:

First, it is a chronology of the various important scientists and discoveries over the centuries, all leading to where we are now.

Second, it explains, between the beginner and intermediate levels, an understanding of concepts such as black holes, worm holes, the beginning and potential end of time, particles and waves, quantum mechanics, and other issues in science.

Third, it is almost an autobiography of Dr. Hawking's scientific life. He interjects wonderful bits of humor and explains the concepts carefully and as simply as he can.

He is also respectful of religion, briefly interjecting his ideas about how religion does not have to be incompatible with the rapidly expanding ideas of science, and that religion should embrace science more.

One part I found humorous was his explanation of a bet he lost with a colleague (he seems to have a lot of long-standing bets going). He owned up to being wrong, and paid the penalty, which was a "one-year subscription to Penthouse, to the outrage of [his colleague's] liberated wife."

This book is for physics experts as well as people who know nothing about science and just want to learn some of the basic concepts. Like the universe, expand your mind. ... Read more

5. The Complete Art of War (History and Warfare)
by Sun-Tzu, Sun Pin, Ralph D. Sawyer, Mei-Chun Lee Sawyer
list price: $35.00
our price: $23.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0813330858
Catlog: Book (1996-05-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Sales Rank: 16773
Average Customer Review: 4.25 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Presented here together for the first time are the greatest of the ancient Chinese classics of strategic thought: The Complete Art of War. Probably the most famous work of strategy ever written, Sun Tzu's Art of War has sold millions of copies in many languages around the world. Lost for more than 2000 years and only recently recovered, the Military Methods of Sun Pin (Sun Tzu's great-grandson) is a brilliant elaboration on his ancestor's work. Only The Complete Art of War brings the wisdom of these two ancient sages into a single volume and gives the reader a unique opportunity to master the essentials of Chinese thought on strategy, organization and leadership.

The Sun family writings on strategy have proven their value through the ages, and they continue to reward careful study. By unveiling the complex, often unexpected, interrelationships of armies locked in battle, they reveal the enduring principles of success in the struggle of life itself. With a practical index to the essential principles of strategy, and Ralph Sawyer's thoughtful chapter-by-chapter commentaries, The Complete Art of War  is designed to bring the reader new insights into the nature of human conflict.

Whether it is playing the game of politics or building a successful marriage, closing a deal or managing a large organization, making war or even making peace, The Complete Art of War  stands as one of the ultimate guides to a deeper understanding of human affairs. ... Read more

Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars The teachings of the greatest military geniuses of all time.
Sun Tzu collected his teachings into the ancient Chinese treatise on military strategy known as "The Art of War" about twenty-five hundred years ago. Afterward his teachings were passed down through the Sun family, or a group of disciples, who edited or expounded upon the original writings until they assumed their current form. Sun Pin was the great-grandson of Sun Tzu, and he used the teachings of his brilliant ancestor to develop his Treatise "Military Methods". This wonderful translation by Ralph D. Sawyer includes both of these ancient texts.

"The Art of War" has been studied the world over by military, political and business leaders seeking to understand the nature of human conflict in all it's forms. Although thousands of years old, the teachings of Sun Tzu remain relevant even today. The maxims of Sun Tzu have been applied by students of "The Art of War" to such modern conflicts as the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

Sun Tzu's teachings range from the seemingly simple, such as "Someone unfamiliar with the mountains and forests cannot advance the army", to the more complex and thought provoking, such as "In order await the disordered. In tranquility await the clamorous. This is the way to control the mind." The manual covers such diverse topics as training, supplies, terrain, the seasons and the use of spys, and includes detailed commentary by China's greatest military leaders through the centuries.

"The Art of War" should be read by anyone who studies military history or strategy, and is part of the curriculum of many of the world's military academies. Studying the teachings of Sun Tzu can help you to form strategies for conflict resolution or negotiating in business, political or social endeavors through a greater understanding of human interaction.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sun Tzu and Sun Pin are timeless
The Art of War is the oldest and best military treatise this world has seen. It is amazing how Sun Tzu can talk about strategy and warfare in thirteen short chapters. His book is just the best about competition and strategy. And now we get to Sun Pin, the military strategist. I have awesome respect for him. He was betrayed and mutilated by his best friend, and still, he survived. He defeated his nemesis in a great strategic way that Sun Tzu would have mostly likely done. These two are the best and if they were in this world today, they would won every war that we fight, by their ability to adapt. If you want to get Ancient Strategy and Chinese Culture, get this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
The publishing of both Sun Tzu's and Sun Pin's works together makes for a valuable purchase. I've found that this translation is also quite easy to follow, and the comments assist with interpretation. These works represent awesome insights into the nature of warfare.

1-0 out of 5 stars suffering
The text does not remotely fill the entire page to lengthen the book and suggest a happier price. Sun Pin's addition is severely garbled because the original text was damaged and it's contadictory. The most likely reason that Sun Pin's methods were forgotten and preserved only in a tomb was because (GEE GOLLY) people believed it wasn't worth reading. The commentary uses the word obvious extremely often among various other uneeded lengthening exercises.The author describes himself as an imaginative entrepenuer.(Sun Tzu flirts with perfection)

3-0 out of 5 stars good additional material
A nice attempt to include additional material about
the ancient chinese strategic art. I stress that it is art
since there are no analytical material here.
But the text is abridged and the translation could be improved. ... Read more

6. Telecom Crash Course
by StevenShepard, Steven Shepard
list price: $34.95
our price: $23.07
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0071382135
Catlog: Book (2001-10-25)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional
Sales Rank: 39807
Average Customer Review: 4.36 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Get a sound fix on the expanding universe of telecom

Explore the vast telecom landscape -- from standards and protocols to premise, access and transport technologies. Far more than an acronym-studded quick fix, Telecom Crash Course is a true tutorial that offers you context, connections, and the wisdom to quickly grasp key technologies, including wireless Internet, optical networking, 3G, IP, protocol layer, PSTN, ATM, spread spectrum, GPRS, and SIP. Author Steven Shepard includes lively stories that deliver important points about the markets that drive the technologies. You get rigorous technical accuracy, with explanations of each technology's economic importance. Here’s your chance to decipher the alphabet soup of telecom acronyms -- not just what they stand for, but what they mean and how they can generate profits. ... Read more

Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Introduction, in the opinion of a Telecom newcomer
This is a fantastic book if you want an overview that focuses on technical and some business aspects of telecommunications, and are someone that enjoys reading more techie-oriented material. (For the record, I am an MechE by training who is now working for one of the companies mentioned in the book, so this really was my entire Intro course to Telecom, and I plan to continue my learning. This book was an excellent guide for future, more in-depth subjects to pursue.)

The book does an excellent job of being ubiquitous and covering all the aspects of the telecom field that you've ever heard about. At the same, I found it easy to skip around in reading chapters, based on my own priorities in buying the book. The chapters are divided very logically into sections on the Telephone network, Access technologies, Transport options, Protocols, etc. (if you have no idea what I'm talking about, you will after reading this book :).
One of my favorite aspects of the books is that the author is very good at using diagrams to supplement his text, which can be rare in more engineering/technical books. The whole picture-worth-a-thousand-words idea, especially if you take the time to go through the diagrams.
Yes, the text can require a few read-throughs - but telecommunications itself is a dense field that really requires one to be patience in reading and gain understanding of the technology. There *is* a lot of detail stuffed through out the chapters, and perhaps not everyone will care to know everything -- but that is alright, there is no harm in skipping the nitty-gritty of sections that do not interest you.

Please, please, please do not let the bad reviews of this book discourage you from checking it out. I just finished reading the entire book, and wanted to log on to share my high opinion of it.

2-0 out of 5 stars a scatterbrained mess...
First off, a word of warning: Pay heed to the reader's words from Woburn Mass, all of the 5 star reviews of this book actually are from people who are mentioned in the book's acknowledgements.

I purchased this book mostly to learn about telephony. I already know a lot about data networking, and I wanted to expand my knowledge of other aspects of telecom and optical WAN technologies like SONET and SDH. I knew I was in for trouble after reading about 50 pages. Have you ever read a technical book where you had a really hard time absorbing the info, even when you re-read the same paragraphs over and over again? Well, chances are it's not your fault, it's the author's! I can say this for sure about this book, b/c it described stuff that I already know about, and after reading it, I was more confused than before!

Part of the problem is the author's complete lack of organizational logic. On page 2, he describes all of the "techno-jargon" that permeates the telecom industry, and "often gets in the way of the relatively straightforward task of learning how all this stuff actually works". I totally agree, jargon should not obfuscate. BUT, if you're going to point out this common pitfall, you best avoid it yourself, and Shepard does not! He's all over the board, dropping terms and concepts with little or no explanation. About 10 pages in, it's already a muddled mess.

The mess gets worse. He discusses all of these different approaches to multiplexing, but doesn't take the time to explain what the basic process of multiplexing is all about until page 200! Throughout the entire book, he constantly refers to switching versus routing, but he doesn't explain the basic processes until the final 2 pages! These are just a couple examples that stuck out in my mind.

To be sure, there is some useful information to be gleaned here, but it's hard to sort out from all the "noise". Shepard gets into way too much detail on certain subjects and not enough on others, without any discernable logic. For example, he spends several pages discussing how fiber cables are manufactured, but spends less than one page discussing the basic processes of routing and switching. However, given the topic of the book, isn't the latter subject a lot more applicable? As far as I know, telecom professionals don't need to make the actual fiber cables.

This book is too technical for someone who doesn't know anything about telecom, and it's not practical enough for someone who knows a lot. If you're in between like me, you stand to gain a decent high-level overview of the industry, but the details are murky at best.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Telecom Overview
As an industry outsider with limited technical experience, I found this book informative, easy-to-follow, and entertaining. My compliments to the author for a job well done.

2-0 out of 5 stars entertaining but lightweight
The author has a knack for seeing the big picture and coming up with funny metaphors to describe it (see Austrailian rules football in the other review). Also, he has a lot of friends in the business - four of the 5 star reviews below are from people listed in the acknowledgements. There is technical material here but the selection is sort of random, so you may or may not find a detailed explanation of a subject you're looking for. But his brief discussion of JPEG compression was so absurdly wrong it made me less enthusiastic about reading through the rest of his technical presentations.

I won't say this book is worthless, because he does have a marketer's flair for making business sense of technology and predicting trends, and there is probably enough material here to fill a few good magazine articles. One of them, on the psychology of computer hacking (inserted in the middle of a discussion of the OSI protocol stack), unfortunately has nothing to do with telecom. Also, the mini-Esperanto/English dictionary is entertaining but probably should have been left for the author's web site. I mean, I agree that's funny, but there are those of us who paid for a book on telecom.

5-0 out of 5 stars The complete telecom overview
If I were starting out in the telecommuncations field, this would be the first book that I'd recommend that anyone read. It gives you a high level look at: what protocols do and are used for; what the primary access technologies are; a great description of the telephony system that provides the main infrastructure of the Internet; and, the primary transport technologies that are being used today.
Because this is a "crash course" book don't look for great detail in every topic, however, if you are looking for a compendium that covers the telecomm field all in one book then this is the book you need. My networking background has been mostly in the copper and fiber optic technologies, so I found the sections about the new 802.11 wireless technologies the most interesting. But some of things that I found unique for a book like this and most fascinating are the pictures of scenes and equipment taken inside of actual telephone central offices and the anecdotes about real life happenings in the telecommuncations world. For those of you interested in the state of the telecommuncations industry, you may want to go straight to the last chapter entitled "Final Thoughts" where the author gives some very interesting comments about the industry on a global view.
So if you have anything to do with telecommunications, be it as a user, CTO, IT manager, technology student, technology teacher, marketing or sales person of telecom or buyer of telecom, then this book should have a place on your desk. ... Read more

7. The Golden Ratio : The Story of PHI, the World's Most Astonishing Number
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767908163
Catlog: Book (2003-09-23)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 1405
Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Throughout history, thinkers from mathematicians to theologians have pondered the mysterious relationship between numbers and the nature of reality. In this fascinating book, Mario Livio tells the tale of a number at the heart of that mystery: phi, or 1.6180339887...This curious mathematical relationship, widely known as "The Golden Ratio," was discovered by Euclid more than two thousand years ago because of its crucial role in the construction of the pentagram, to which magical properties had been attributed. Since then it has shown a propensity to appear in the most astonishing variety of places, from mollusk shells, sunflower florets, and rose petals to the shape of the galaxy. Psychological studies have investigated whether the Golden Ratio is the most aesthetically pleasing proportion extant, and it has been asserted that the creators of the Pyramids and the Parthenon employed it. It is believed to feature in works of art from Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa to Salvador Dali's The Sacrament of the Last Supper, and poets and composers have used it in their works. It has even been found to be connected to the behavior of the stock market!

The Golden Ratio is a captivating journey through art and architecture, botany and biology, physics and mathematics. It tells the human story of numerous phi-fixated individuals, including the followers of Pythagoras who believed that this proportion revealed the hand of God; astronomer Johannes Kepler, who saw phi as the greatest treasure of geometry; such Renaissance thinkers as mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci of Pisa; and such masters of the modern world as Goethe, Cezanne, Bartok, and physicist Roger Penrose.Wherever his quest for the meaning of phi takes him, Mario Livio reveals the world as a place where order, beauty, and eternal mystery will always coexist.
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Reviews (40)

5-0 out of 5 stars Pursuing the Mysteries of the Ubiquitous Number Phi
Mario Livio, a cosmologist and art aficionado at the Hubble Space Telescope Center and the author of the previous book "The Accelerating Universe," wrote a lot about the irrational (never-ending, never-repeating) number phi, or the Golden Ratio, whose value is 1.6180339877... The story starts from these questions: Who discovered the Golden Ratio? Was phi used in the design of a Babylonian stela and Egyptian pyramids? The author pursues the answers to these questions, writing a series of his thoughts like a detective story.

Then he describes the role of the Greek mathematicians Plato and Euclid, and the Italian mathematician Leonardo Fibonacci in the history of phi, together with the geometrical and arithmetical wonders connected to this number. One example of the wonders is the relation between the Fibonacci sequence and phi. The Fibonacci sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, ... is defined as a series of numbers in which each term is the sum of the two preceding terms. The ratio of successive numbers of this sequence approaches phi as we go farther and farther down the sequence.

Next come the topics of phi found in nature and used in arts. The logarithmic spiral, which goes hand in hand with the Golden Radio, appears in the sunflower, the flight of a falcon, galaxies, etc. The author's study of many historical attempts to disclose the Golden Ratio in various works of art, pieces of music and poetry comes to the conclusion that ... (I have to refrain from writing the ending of the "detective story").

In the final chapter Livio considers the question: What is the reason that mathematics and numerical constants like phi play such a central role in topics ranging from fundamental theories of the universe to the stock market? Noting that the discussion about this question can fill the entire volume, the author gives a brief (but very understandable) description of the modified Platonic view and the natural selection interpretation. He also presents his personal opinion, which adopts complementarity of the above two views. This chapter whets readers' appetite for a possible next book on this topic to be written by Livio.

I strongly recommend "The Golden Ratio" to scientists, artists and laypersons that are interested in the wonders of numbers and mathematics and in their relations to arts and nature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Golden Indeed!
Following in the steps of his earlier, just as fascinating account linking cosmology and the arts ("The Accelerating Universe"), Mario Livio continues to prove he is one of the most original, exciting and literate writers of popular science today. "The Golden Ratio" is a witty and learned journey generally following the trail of the number Phi, but stopping along the way to take in subjects as diverse as philosophy, history, art, religion, the sciences, architecture, etc.

Writing about science in a way that is both knowledgeable and understandable for the common reader is an infamous hurdle, but Livio leaps over it with the greatest of ease, giving clear explanations of every potentially difficult matter and providing the scientific proofs in the appendices, for those more mathematically inclined. Overall, though, it is the great humanity of Livio's worldview that shines through the book and makes it, at least for me, one of the most memorable reads of the year.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Difficult Mathematical Concept Revealed
As a non-mathematician I appreciate any help I can get in understanding the more esoteric parts of math. The Golden Ratio is just such a concept. Fortunately, Mario Livio has shown much light on this remarkable corner of geometry in his book "The Golden Ratio."

It is little wonder that such numbers as the Golden Ratio were considered magical. The never ending, never repeating number that cannot ever be expressed as a fraction has an uncanny tendency to show up in the oddest places, not only galactic structure and nautilus shells, but in plant parts and composition of paintings and music. Unfortunately magical numerology can lead to far-fetched relationships, as to the so-called number of the beast (666), and to academicism in art. Just because the Golden Ratio results in a pleasing relationship in a composition we are not tied to always measure art on how well it fits that ratio!

Livio has illuminated the history of the Golden Ratio in such a way that much of the associated themes can be understood by the reasonably educated laymen. While some of the book can be tough sledding for most of us non-mathematicians, the gist is available to all with some effort.

Read this book to learn about the history of interpretation and misinterpretation of mathematical concepts.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great guide to an amazing number
Livio's book is really an interesting look at a number similar to pi in that's an irrational number which displays itself in various places in nature, from the arrangement of petals on a flower to the logarithmic spirals of galaxies.

Livio explains the original formulation of this number by Euclid and proceeds to address the various times in history in which it may have been employed by architects, artists and musicians.

I think this is a really good book if you're interested in reading about the most "irrational of all irrational numbers".

5-0 out of 5 stars Mathematically Profound
Broad streams of literary, historical, aethsetic and religious thought are pooled together in a concise and well-illustrated review of this powerful proportion, which recurs in the natural world in surprising places both large and small. Clearly presented mathematical proofs give the book a solid backbone. Mathematical ideas are expressed in the book through a combination of prose, appendix proofs, and plentiful illustrations & diagrams. This allows readers of varying mathematical ability and learning styles to appreciate the beautiful ideas that Livio gracefully presents. A must for serious lovers of proportion & geometry, architects, mystics, painters, graphic designers and mathematicians. ... Read more

8. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time
by Dava Sobel
list price: $11.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140258795
Catlog: Book (1996-10-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 5257
Average Customer Review: 3.89 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

During the great ages of exploration, "the longitude problem" was the gravest of all scientific challenges. Lacking the ability to determine their longitude, sailors were literally lost at sea as soon as they lost sight of land. Ships ran aground on rocky shores; those traveling well-known routes were easy prey to pirates.

In 1714, England's Parliament offered a huge reward to anyone whose method of measuring longitude could be proven successful. The scientific establishment--from Galileo to Sir Isaac Newton--had mapped the heavens in its certainty of a celestial answer. In stark contrast, one man, John Harrison, dared to imagine a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at sea, something no clock had been able to do on land. And the race was on....
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Reviews (209)

4-0 out of 5 stars Amazing subject, fascinating story
With "Longitude" Dava Sobel has written a very interesting book about the greatest scientific problem of the 18th century.

As a result of the 1707-shipwreck story (with a loss of 4 out of the 5 ships), the English Parliament offered in 1714 a 20.000 pounds reward to the person that could provide a practicable and useful way of determining longitude. (If you have forgot, longitude is the "lines" that runs from pole to pole). Not being able to determining longitude was a great problem. Ships spent excessive time trying to find its way back to port, or worse men, ship and cargo were lost at sea.

John Harrison (1693-1776) spent his lifetime trying to solve the longitude mystery. Harrison was a son of a countryman, with minimal schooling, and was self-educated in watch making. He made several timepieces, which all qualified for the reward, but the reward was delayed several times by the Longitude committee whom believed that other ways of measuring longitude were the preferred ones. Ultimately after a lot of harassment and trouble, Harrison was given the reward money.

Dava Sobel has done a wonderful job in this book, capturing Harrison's fascinating character, his brilliance, preserving and hard working nature. The author has also managed to strike a perfect balance between technical jargon and personal anecdotes, and she does it in such a way permitting the lay readers of the book to admire the elegance of Harrison's discoveries. I believe it is a sign of excellent quality when an author makes learning so interesting.

I was hooked from the first page of this book and I read it in 50-page gulps at a time.

Highly recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars John Harrison--an extraordinary person
John Harrison (1693-1776) spent his lifetime inventing and perfecting a series of timepieces to measure longitude. As Dava Sobel relates in her engaging narrative, "Longitude," until the 18th century sailors navigated by following parallels of latitude and roughly estimating distance traveled east or west. Ships routinely missed their destinations, often taking excessive time to arrive or succumbing to reefs off fogbound shores. Thousands of sailors and tons of cargo were lost.

In 1714, England's Parliament offered £20,000 (the equivalent of about $12 million today) to anyone who provided a "practicable and useful" means of determining longitude. Countless solutions were suggested, some bizarre, some impractical, some workable only on land and others far too complex.

Most astronomers believed the answer lay in the sky, but Harrison, a clockmaker, imagined a mechanical solution--a clock that would keep precise time at sea. By knowing the exact times at the Greenwich meridian and at a ship's position, one could find longitude by calculating the time difference. However, most scientists, including Isaac Newton, discounted a clock because there were too many variables at sea. Changes in temperature, air pressure, humidity and gravity would surely render a watch inaccurate.

Harrison persisted. As Dava Sobel writes, he worked on his timepiece for decades, though he suffered skepticism and ridicule. Even after completing his timepiece, an instrument we now call a chronometer, in 1759, he underwent a long series of unfair trials and demonstrations. Ultimately he triumphed.

Sobel, a science writer who contributes to Audubon, Life, Omni and other magazines, captures John Harrison's extraordinary character: brilliant, persevering and heroic in the face of adversity. He is a man you won't forget.

4-0 out of 5 stars Brief but enjoyable
This slim volume tells the story of John Harrison who, although untrained, built four revolutionary clocks that changed how ships navigate at sea. It also tells about the political fight Harrison was forced to fight to win recognition for his work.

Written in a easy-to-read, "magazine" tone the tale goes quickly, whole years pass in a couple sentences. I wanted more details and this is where the book disappoints but it may not be the authors fault The book hints that many events weren't recorded and more details just aren't available.

One technical note: I think the font used in this tiny, five by eight inch book is a little small and the page numbers, even smaller, aren't readable at a glance. Or maybe I'm getting old.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great story, but BEWARE of inaccuracies in this book.
John Harrison completes his first pendulum clock in 1713 before the age of 20. He made the gears for this out of wood which was radical for such a use, but as a carpenter, perhaps not to him---which is a mark of genius, I'd say; to reach beyond accepted norms in this manner. This he did after borrowing a book on math and the laws of motion; which he copied word for word, making his own copy. He incorporated different varieties of wood into his clock for strenth and later invented a bi-metal pendulum to counteract the expansion and compression of various individual metals. He also employed friction-free movements so as to do away with problematic lubricants. When intrigued by the puzzle of time at sea and the issue of longitude he contemplated substituting something not prone to gravity, as a pendulum of course is, to track times passing. In 1737 he creates a cantilevered clock 4 foot square. This the longitude board (which had offered a cash bonus to anyone who could devise a method in which time at sea could be kept) admired. Four years later he returns with an improved model; then starts on a 3rd model, like the previous two, also a fairly large sized clock.But there exists a problem within this book: An artisan freemason by the name of John Jefferys at the Worshipful Company of clockmakers befriends Harrison and then later presents to him a pocket watch in 1753. Then in 1755, while still working on his 3rd model, Harrison says this to the Longitude board: I have..."good reason to think" on the basis of a watch "already executed that such small machines[he's referring to pocketwatches] may be of great service with respect to longitude." He then completes version 3 in 1759. His fourth version appears just a year later, however, and is a 5 inch wide pocketwatch! The obvious inference made by the author is that after he received the pocketwatch from Jeffreys he seemingly put his version #3 on the backburner and soon started on the pocketwatch 4th version. The author does not claim Harrison copied anything from the Jeffreys model, but she certainly phrases this section so as to lend one to believe that this may have been the case; that Jefferys had a hand in the masterstroke invention Harrison eventually produced in version #4. This is not true. Harrison commissioned the watch he received from Jeffreys and was based on Harrison's specifications. It seems that Harrison simply asked Jeffreys to test an idea which he himself hadn't the time to attack just then; as he was still working on his 3rd version of a table-top prototype clock. Hence Harrison's above statement to the board in 1755 whence his ideas were validated by Jeffreys. In addition, the author plays up the part of the Astronomer Royal's part in attempting to impede Harrison from convincing the longitiude board of the efficacy of a time-piece solution to this problem over a celestial answer to this conundrum. The author also jazzes up the issue of whether Harrison received the prize the board promised to pay for a successful solution herein; even though the board supported him for upwards of 20 years as he pursued this quest. It's as if the author intentionally omitted some facts (that the Jefferys was a Harrison commission), and pumped up others (of a rival/foil on the board trying to impede Harrison and the compensation issue; implying that Harrison was jipped) just to make the story more compelling. John Harrison's story, however, is extremely compelling as it is and didn't need this extra spice served up by the author.Do read this (very short) book on how this Mr. Harrison solved the problem of knowing where one is when at sea; and if you're in London, visit the Old Royal Observatory and the Clockmakers museum (in the Guildhall) where you can see Harrison's wonderful creations in person. Enjoy!

4-0 out of 5 stars The Man who Captured Time so Ships could Navigate Accurately

Note: This review has been written from a city with the following position on Earth:

LATITUDE: (43 degrees 2 minutes North)
LONGITUDE: (81 degrees 9 minutes West).

In order to understand the significance of this remarkable book by Dava Sobel, the reader has to understand some words and phrases in the book's title and subtitle.

"Longitude" along with Latitude are two numbers along with compass directions that are used to fix the position of anything on the planet Earth (as in the note above). Lines of Latitude are the imaginary, parallel, horizontal lines circling the Earth with the equator (fixed by nature) being the "zero-degree parallel of latitude." Lines of Longitude or "meridians" are the imaginary lines that run top to bottom (north and south), from the Earth's North Pole to its South Pole with the "prime meridian" (established by political means) being the "zero-degree meridian of longitude." (Since the mid-1880s, the prime merdian has passed through Greenwich, England. Before this time, the imaginary line that passed through a ship's home port was usually used as the zero-degree meridian.)

Finding the latitude on land or at sea was easy and eventually a device was invented to make it even easier. But finding longitude, especially at sea on a swaying ship was difficult, a difficulty "that stumped the wisest minds of the world for the better part of human history" and was "the greatest scientific problem" of the 1700s. Ways of determining longitude astronomically were devised, but these proved to be impractical when used at sea.

England's parliament recognized that "the longitude problem" had to be solved practically since many people and valuable cargo were lost at sea when the ship's navigators lost sight of land. Thus, this parliament offered a top monetary prize that's equivalent to many millions of dollars today to anybody who could solve the problem.

Enter "a lone genius" named John Harrison (1693 to 1776). While most thought the solution to the problem was astronomical, Harrison saw time as the solution.

To calculate the longitude using time on a ship at sea, you have to realize these two facts found in this book:

(i) The Earth takes 24 hours of time to spin 360 degrees on its axis from east to west.
(ii) Noon (12:00 PM) is the highest point the sun seems to "travel" in a day.

To learn one's longitude at sea using time, as this book explains, it's necessary to do the following:

(1) Know the time it is aboard ship (local noon was normally used because of fact (ii) above).
(2) At the very same moment, know the time at a known longitude (such as at Greenwich, England).
(3) The difference in time between (1) and (2) is coverted to a longitude reading in degrees and direction (using fact (i) above).

Harrison's solution was the accurate determination of time of (2) above by inventing a reliable timepiece. This timepiece, in this case, would be set to Greenwich time. (Note that, as stated, (1) could be determined using the noon-day sun but this was not always practical. Eventually another timepiece was used to determine the ship's local noon for a particular day.) It has to be realized that this was the "era of pendulum clocks" where, on a deck of a rocking ship, "such clocks would slow down or speed up, or stop running altogether." Harrison was to capture time by building a marine clock or "timekeeper" (eventually called a "chronometer") that could be used on a ship at sea.

This book tells the "true story" of Harrison and his chronometers. (There were five built over a forty-year period. Harrison's first timekeeping device was known as H-1, his second was H-2, and so on.) Sobel uses accuracy (as evidenced by her thirty references), extensive interviews, and an engaging, mostly non-technical narrative (only essential technical detail is included) to convey a story that's filled with suspense, heroism, perfectionism, and villiany. All this in less than 200 pages!!

The only problem I had with this book is that it has hardly any pictures (photographs and illustrations). I would have liked to have seen pictures of the various people involved in this saga, maps showing where ships traveled, more photos of Harrison's amazing timepieces (both interior and exterior), and diagrams that explained important concepts. A diagram that actually showed how longitude, using a simple example, is calculated (using the steps above) would also have been helpful.

Finally, there is a good 1999 movie entitled "Longitude" based on this book. Be aware that even though this book is short, the movie is long (over three hours).

In conclusion, this book documents the exciting "true story" of how "a lone genius" solved "the longitude problem." Sobel states this more eloquently: "With his marine clocks, John Harrison tested the waters of space-time. He succeeded, against all odds, in using the fourth...dimension to link points on a three-dimensional globe. He [took] the world's whereabouts from the stars, and locked [or captured] the secret in"

<=====> ... Read more

9. The History of GIS (Geographic Information Systems) (Prentice Hall Series in Geographic Information Science)
by Timothy Foresman
list price: $112.00
our price: $112.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0138621454
Catlog: Book (1997-11-10)
Publisher: Prentice Hall PTR
Sales Rank: 507555
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Book Description

To understand the power of Geographical Information Systems and Geographical Positioning Systems today, it is essential to understand their background and history, and the needs they were designed to answer .This is the first comprehensive history of GIS for both practitioners and students.From GPS systems that help you find your destination in a rented car, to satellite imaging for locating new petroleum reserves, GIS technology is changing the world. This book brings together for the first time the expert testimonies of the pioneers, key scientists and entrepreneurs who created the GIS field and made it what it is today. It covers both the raster and vector sides of GIS development. From remote sensing to PC-based systems; from Land Information Systems to defense applications, this is the definitive history of GIS.For all GIS and GPS professional practitioners, developers and students. ... Read more

10. The Double Helix : A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA
by James D. Watson
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 074321630X
Catlog: Book (2001-06-12)
Publisher: Touchstone
Sales Rank: 11960
Average Customer Review: 3.69 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

By identifying the structure of DNA, the molecule of life, Francis Crick and James Watson revolutionized biochemistry and won themselves a Nobel Prize. At the time, Watson was only twenty-four, a young scientist hungry to make his mark. His uncompromisingly honest account of the heady days of their thrilling sprint against other world-class researchers to solve one of science's greatest mysteries gives a dazzlingly clear picture of a world of brilliant scientists with great gifts, very human ambitions, and bitter rivalries. With humility unspoiled by false modesty, Watson relates his and Crick's desperate efforts to beat Linus Pauling to the Holy Grail of life sciences, the identification of the basic building block of life. Never has a scientist been so truthful in capturing in words the flavor of his work. ... Read more

Reviews (65)

4-0 out of 5 stars Double Helix....Stairway to Genetics
I found the book to be the complete antithesis to the expected writings hidden behind the scientific cover. Watson and his clan's quest for the helixical structure of DNA made for an entertaining voyage within these pages. Unexpectedly, as many scientific based books that I have been privy to read lately, this book was very approachable, dare I say readable. The exploits recounted by Watson were very entertaining; they could even be considered witty and humorous although it was biosciences humor. The teamwork and competition aspects of the discovery of the double helix were unexpected but welcomed because I felt that they were the driving forces behind the people. I was impressed by Watson, Crick and Franklin all bringing something to the proverbial table even though I found it a tad bit lucky or coincidental, but that is how these things work sometimes. This, accompanied with the race against Linus Pauling (already a recognized scientist of the time) helped lend to an educational, insightful and entertaining few hours of reading about the basic structure of all of us. I felt like I took a little something with me when I was finished with this work.......and I do mean literally.

The Double Helix, by James D. Watson is a great book. I have learned a lot by reading this book. It is a simple book that contains lots of humor. I have discovered that Watson is a smart, but at the same time funny, while competing with an admired scientist, Linus Pauling. Watson makes the book fun to read because he conveys his process vividly and shows how important DNA is to the world. All of this started in a dumpy, worn down chemical lab at Cambridge University called "The Cavendish." Watson was interested in investigating the structure of DNA to gain more insight into genetics. James Watson shows that his discovery was also part of Francis Crick, his partner that helped him. However, Crick was sometimes not very helpful because he wondered off. Watson had to get use to the structure of Cambridge where they had meals and everyone sat together on a special table on an elevated platform and were expected to engage in an enlightened conversation. I also like the part where Watson is honest by showing his ignorance on X-ray crystallographic techniques. I also enjoy the sarcasm in chapter 15 where they say, "After Pauling's success, no one could claim that faith in helices implied anything but an uncomplicated brain." Also the information from page 83 describes that ratio of bases of DNA: where A-T and C-G, which is what I have learned in class. Therefore, I believe that The Double Helix is a great book worth reading because it does not contain much technical terms and is also a short book that will show important the discovery of DNA was and still is to the world.

4-0 out of 5 stars Important Discover...but not the most invigorating book
Ok. I'm giving this book a 4 because of the importance of the discover of the structure of DNA. In terms of actual reading material, however, I'd probably give it a 2 or 3. I do believe that James Watson is a great scientist, but he is not writer. His writing style is only adequete and far from interesting and he really doesn't do a great job of putting interest into the subject matter. Someone who does not have at least a little background in the general concepts or biology/organic chemistry/physics will probably not get much out of this book.

Now on to the science side of the book. Watson describes the various events that took place while he, Franscis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin worked on discovering the structure of DNA. Again, Watson does not really put much vigor into these events but does describe them realistically (science can't always do interesting). He focuses on his relationship with Crick, battles with Franklin, and competetion with Linus Pauling--the Nobel prize winning chemist who ironically get the structure of DNA wrong. Through his writing, Watson at times reveals his pompousness and his ignorance of certain scientific concepts, but overall shows his devout eagerness of discovery.

I would say that this is an important book to read if you are at all interested in science. However, it is probably too boring for just a fun read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Not a Science Nerd
Science and I have never been on a level playing field. We go together like jalapenos and cheesecake. When the opportunity arose to do extra credit for my biology class, I was ecstatic. That is until I found out exactly what the assignment was. I had to read a book, a scientific one of course, from a list compiled by my instructor, write a review, and post it on here on Amazon. If I wasn't so desperate for the extra points I would have torn that book list into a million pieces, but describing my need for an A as desperate would be an understatement. Naturally, I chose the book with the least amount of pages, James Watson's Double Helix. The title alone made me drowsy. I was in for a big surprise, though. I actually enjoyed the book and even learned a little bit in the process. The story was extremely well told and I found myself eagerly awaiting the answer to Mr. Watson's burning question, "What does DNA look like?"
James Watson was en exceptionally intelligent man, as was clearly demonstrated in his book by his eloquent writing style, extensive vocabulary, and impressive syntax. He was, however, not an intimidating scientist, which allowed me to relate to his story with ease. Watson was full of ideas, a quick study, and very receptive to the work of his superiors, but at the time of his brilliant discovery, he was merely a student, fighting to get funded for his research. He had studied biology, chemistry, and physics, but was not particularly fond of any of them. Unfortunately, Mr. Watson was at a disadvantage because all three disciplines were the building blocks for understanding the composition and structure of DNA.
Although James Watson was funded to research viruses while away in England, his immediate fascination with DNA quickly derailed his educational focus, and with several incorrect theories about DNA already spread, he was unquestionably discouraged from his desired area of study. The entire book boasted his bliss and reverence, having met and worked with some of the worlds most famous and respected scientists. Watson was clever enough to draw knowledge from each of them which assisted him throughout the stages of the project.
The best part about reading the book was that while I was devouring my literature, my Biology professor was covering DNA and genetics in class. I felt like the smartest kid in the world because I truly understood all the material he was discussing, thanks to Mr. Watson. The novel included supportive illustrations which assisted me in following some of the more difficult language, such as nitrogenous bases, and phosphate groups. I was astounded to know that I had a firm grasp of a minute portion of the scientific world.
I thought the book was great primarily because I could understand it. While it may sound facetious, it's absolutely true. Unless you love science, the terminology involved sounds completely foreign. I was utterly terrified just thinking about how I was going to attempt to comprehend my newfound author. My fright was quickly put to ease as I turned each page. Initially I was dreading reading a few pages per night, and soon found myself reading five chapters a night and finished the book, in its entirety, within just a few days. I would undeniably recommend this book to anyone like me who feels inferior when it comes to the sciences. It is a superb account of a scientific breakthrough intertwined with a story of friendship, inspiration, competition, and triumph.

1-0 out of 5 stars Shame on you, "Doctor" Watson
Shame on Watson for "taking" data from Rosalind Franklin and not even acknowledging it. My wife and I watched the Nova program "Secret of Photo 51" and was outraged. This book is a how Watson would like the world to believe how HE discovers the structure of DNA. Stanford refused to publish this book. Watson's ethics is questionable.

If you read this, make sure you read the books about Rosalind Franklin also in order to get the truth. ... Read more

11. The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World
list price: $13.95
our price: $10.46
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375760393
Catlog: Book (2002-05-28)
Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
Sales Rank: 2421
Average Customer Review: 3.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Every schoolchild learns about the mutually beneficial dance of honeybees and flowers: The bee collects nectar and pollen to make honey and, in the process, spreads the flowers’ genes far and wide. In The Botany of Desire, Michael Pollan ingeniously demonstrates how people and domesticated plants have formed a
similarly reciprocal relationship. He masterfully links four fundamental human desires—sweetness, beauty, intoxication, and control—with the plants that satisfy them: the apple, the tulip, marijuana, and the potato. In telling the stories of four familiar species, Pollan illustrates how the plants have evolved to satisfy humankind’s most basic yearnings. And just as we’ve benefited from these plants, we have also done well by them. So who is really domesticating whom?
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Reviews (95)

5-0 out of 5 stars A good read, and very informative
I read this book after hearing a talk by Pollan on New Dimensions radio (in their "Bioneers" series), and I found it (like his talk) perfectly delightful. I don't agree that his use of science is misleading: he's done his homework and researched his subjects pretty thoroughly, and if he takes sides on an issue (e.g., anti-pesticide and anti-genetic-engineering), it's a reasoned conclusion rather than an unthinking bias. The book is anecdotal and impressionistic, not a closely-reasoned scientific argument, but I felt that its rather loose structure worked well: it's a fun read, he kept me interested all the way through, and I learned a surprising amount about history, botany, and horticulture. I've read several accounts of the Potato Famine, but Pollan's "take" on it was intriguing: he sees it as the world's most ghastly example of the dangers of monoculture, and I agree that it's a lesson we all need to take to heart. (But it's also a case of How A Fungus Changed The World: if the potato blight hadn't dispersed the Irish all over the world, many countries -- in Latin America, as well as the obvious contenders, Australia and the U.S. -- would be very different today.) The book is easy to read and amusing, but he also makes some important points, and I have no hesitation in recommending it.

5-0 out of 5 stars Conversational prose, brimming with allusions
I just finished this lovely little book,and would highly reccommend it. If nothing else, this book prepares one for many interesting conversations. I am now knowledgable about the true Johnny Appleseed, the tulip craze of Holland, the highly specialized marijuana culture, and new developments in the genetic engineering of potatoes. (To name a few!)
The fact that Pollan is not a scientist, but an avid gardener and researcher, among other things, should be considered an asset to the reader. He avoids esoteric scientific terminology, but the text remains sophisticated because his allusions prove huge amounts of research. Each part of the book, each "desire", has its own special charm. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite. This book truly opens one's eyes to "a plant's-eye view of the world". Though by no means the be-all-end-all on this topic, it is a beautiful natural history.

4-0 out of 5 stars How passionate are you about plants?
Pollan's book was pleasurable and engaging to read. It is a book that got me to think and expanded my perspective. It places our relationship with plants in specific contexts, with a unique hybrid of sociological and genetic prose. Recommended highly for those passionate about gardening, nature, or food.

5-0 out of 5 stars Nature and Culture from a Gardener's Perspective
While you probably wouldn't want to use "The Botany of Desire" for scientific research purposes, this excellent nonfiction book effectively combines elements of science with those of history, cultural theory and mythology (from the early Greek to the Frontier American varieties). The tone is casual, not scholarly. Pollan is also a gardener, and his passion for growing things and his curiosity about life from the plant's-eye view shines through his text.
"The Botany of Desire" is a nonfiction book with an innovative structure: instead of telling a straight chronological story of the domestication of plants, Pollan instead selects four plants and tells each of their stories in turn, describing how their progress through the world has been shaped by human desires -- and the changes in those desires through history.
This book is also a travelogue of sorts: Pollan journeys through the Midwest in search of Johnny Appleseed's true life story, to Holland for the Cannabis Cup and the historical sites of "tulipomania," and to corporate factory forms to learn about genetic modification of the potato.
Most importantly, Pollan shows us around his own garden and introduces us to the plants that live there. Each of the four historical narratives begins and ends with the plant's history in his own backyard. As a host and a travel guide, Pollan takes on a fascinating journey through time, nature and culture.

I highly recommend this book to plant lovers and gardeners of all varieties, and to those who are interested in the shaping of nature by cultural forces (and vice versa). If this isn't you, it would still probably make a great gift for someone you know.

5-0 out of 5 stars fascinating page turner
Wildly Enthusiastic Recommend: Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan
This book is really different from your average reading fare. It's a delightful mix of facts both scientific and historical, fantastical meanderings, and just plain fun. The catching premise is that plants have co-opted man into promoting their prosperity. Pollan uses four plants to illustrate this premise: apples, tulips, marijuana, and potatoes. Each chapter is a wonderfully readable story about the plant and its history intertwined with its relationship to man. The apple chapter has amazing information about Johnny Appleseed, and because as a child I wanted to be Johnny Appleseed, I found this fascinating. It reinforced my belief that I had good instincts as a kid. Then the tulip chapter gives you the details of tulip-mania in the Netherlands in the 1600s (think Internet bubble), making it seem amazing that this sort of thing keeps happening. The marijuana chapter is the funniest and most sinister in that it makes you want to get some good stuff, now. The potato chapter is the scariest - genetically modified foods. ... Read more

12. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
by Thomas S. Kuhn
list price: $13.00
our price: $9.75
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Asin: 0226458083
Catlog: Book (1996-12-15)
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Sales Rank: 3091
Average Customer Review: 4.05 out of 5 stars
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There's a "Frank & Ernest" comic strip showing a chick breaking out of its shell, looking around, and saying, "Oh, wow! Paradigm shift!" Blame the late Thomas Kuhn. Few indeed are the philosophers or historians influential enough to make it into the funny papers, but Kuhn is one.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is indeed a paradigmatic work in the history of science. Kuhn's use of terms such as "paradigm shift" and "normal science," his ideas of how scientists move from disdain through doubt to acceptance of a new theory, his stress on social and psychological factors in science--all have had profound effects on historians, scientists, philosophers, critics, writers, business gurus, and even the cartoonist in the street.

Some scientists (such as Steven Weinberg and Ernst Mayr) are profoundly irritated by Kuhn, especially by the doubts he casts--or the wayhis work has been used to cast doubt--on the idea of scientific progress. Yet it has been said that the acceptance of plate tectonics in the 1960s, for instance, was sped by geologists' reluctance to be on the downside of a paradigm shift. Even Weinberg has said that "Structure has had a wider influence than any other book on the history of science." As one of Kuhn's obituaries noted, "We all live in a post-Kuhnian age." --Mary Ellen Curtin ... Read more

Reviews (74)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Beginning of the End of Modernism
Thomas Kuhn was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1922. He taught physics at Harvard, the history of science at Berkeley, and the philosophy and history of science at Princeton and MIT. His best-known book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, introduced the term "paradigm shift" into the modern vocabulary when it was first published in 1962. Kuhn's study of paradigm shifts in science makes it hard to view science as an objective discipline that steadily advances towards the truth. Instead, Kuhn shows science to be a very human enterprise where truth is as likely to be resisted as it is to be embraced.

In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn defines a "paradigm" as a set of assumptions, rules, or model problems that define what the important questions are and how to go about answering them. Without a paradigm, would-be researchers are overwhelmed by the sheer mass of data. A "paradigm shift" occurs when a group of scientists reject all or part of their existing paradigm to adopt a new one. This process not only means changing assumptions: it also means reevaluating previous conclusions to see if the old facts still fit within the new paradigm.

Kuhn uses the term "normal science" to describe the work that scientists do as they work within a given paradigm. Their shared set of assumptions, rules, and model problems fairly makes it easy to see what research remains to be done. Occasionally, anomalies will appear. These are events that cannot be explained within the existing paradigm. Normal science tends to ignore anomalies. Instead, by concentrating attention on a small range very specific questions, "the paradigm forces scientists to investigate some part of nature in a detail and depth that would otherwise be unimaginable."

As more and more research is done within a given paradigm, anomalies tend to crop up. This is because the existing paradigm makes very exact predictions about the expected results, and normal science tests those predictions in ever-finer detail. At first, when the results do not match the predictions, those results are discounted. Some researchers assume the equipment was faulty and so they don't publish results that would only seem to embarrass them. Others try to account for the results by some refinement of the existing paradigm. (The classic case of this involved the medieval astronomers, who kept adding more and more "epicycles" to their Earth-centered model of the universe to explain the results they observed.) Finally, researchers are human, and have been known to simply "fudge" the data to match what the paradigm predicts. Thus, even if every experiment produced exactly the same results, the published research in that field might show a range of results.

Eventually, as the anomalies accumulate, scientists begin to acknowledge a crisis. The results no longer fit the paradigm. According to Kuhn, however, simply abandoning the paradigm is not an option. A scientist can get so frustrated with the paradigm that he abandons it to become a priest or open a bicycle shop, but in doing so, he quits being a scientist. A scientist is not a scientist without a paradigm. The only way a scientist can abandon a paradigm and still be a scientist is to adopt a new one. Kuhn calls this a "scientific revolution."
Kuhn blamed textbooks for creating a false impression of the nature of science and of the role of discovery and invention in its advance. When Kuhn first published his book, science was generally presented as an objective advance towards truth.

According to Kuhn, textbook publishers downplayed the "revolutionary" changes that had taken place in their fields. In 1962, if a textbook covered the history of science at all, it tended to make the advances look inevitable. Kuhn argued that science textbooks present an inaccurate view of the nature of science: they make it look as if science had reached its present state by a steady process, like adding bricks to a building.

The revolution is over when one paradigm displaces another, after a period of paradigm testing. According to Kuhn, however, this is not the result proving one paradigm true and another false, however. To some degree, each paradigm is able to account for all the observations that fit within its set of assumptions and rules. The great German physicist Max Planck used to say that old scientists never change their minds: they just die. Kuhn claims this goes a little too far: instead, scientists slowly convert to the new paradigm, for a number of different reasons. Eventually, if a new paradigm is successful, only a handful of hold-outs support the earlier worldview.

Kuhn's book set off a scientific revolution in its own right. People routinely speak of "paradigm shifts" now, and historians of science (and textbook writers) are much more likely to report on the kinds of controversies that were invisible before The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was published.

Kuhn concludes with a startling claim. He argues that scientific revolutions take place in a blind evolutionary process. Paradigms compete for survival, not for truth. This contradicts the "modern" assumption that mankind is steadily advancing towards the truth through science. Given Kuhn's revolutionary impact on our view of science, this book may mark the beginning of the end of the "modernism."

5-0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended for a Reason
This book frequently pops up on a "Top 100" or "Best Science Book" or some other list for a reason: Mr. Kuhn was the first person to step back and look at the complex way in which science and scientific study have advanced over the course of humanity and try to put those observations forth in a logical manner. He succeeded brilliantly.

Mr. Kuhn's main point is that there are two phases of scientific discovery, "normal science" which is built on established principals, rounding out gaps in existing theories until the theories begin to unravel, at which point we have entered a period which will require a "paradigm shift". Mr. Kuhn takes the reader through multiple historical examples, the shifts in scientific thought brought about by Copernicus, Newton, Lavoisier and Einstein. His references are relevant and his thoughts are clearly put forth. The historical anecdotes are very entertaining and educational and do a solid job of reinforcing his point.

I must admit I was a bit concerned during the first chapter, it was a bit tough to make it through, but did a very good job of laying the groundwork and allowing a glimpse of the author's thought process. The second chapter, in which the author begins to define "normal science", immediately put me to rest as the author dove straight into making his point and proving his argument. The final three chapters pertaining to the Invisibility, Resolution and Progress of revolutions should be required reading for anyone who works in the sciences, and is immensely valuable to anyone working in any field. I have been surprised that there haven't been more straight on business interpretations of Kuhn's work (although there has obviously been much unreferenced piracy), as the spread of scientific thought is a very apt metaphor for the spread of business theory and product adoption.

This is a very good book and I highly recommend it, regardless of what field you work in, be it science, business or otherwise.

5-0 out of 5 stars Philosophic common sense applied to Science Evolution of Tho
The complete title of this review is "Philosophic common sense applied to Science Evolution of Thought". Basically the central thesis of Kuhn was that science evolves through paradigm shifts, and of course he conceives science as a compound of theories and laws based on the most agreeable paradigms of the epoch. I found this book refreshing and interesting from at least two perspectives, filosofically and historically. Also this book is read as a compendium of consecutive works that altogether make a coherent thesis, so it's easy reading it. Finally, Kuhn's style is very friendly and personal, so you really feel he is urging you to follow him in all his arguments. Reading this book was a great experience for me, and I highly recommend it.

4-0 out of 5 stars How and Why Organizations/Communities Resist Change
This relatively easy read while, focusing on the history of changes in scientific paradigms, really is applicable to a much wider audience. It is a recommended "must read" for anyone in the organizational facilitation or organizational development field who needs to understand how difficult it is for organizations to embrace change.
Kuhn well explains how community paradigms are formed and perpetuated, and just how difficult it is for people to accept changes to their paradigm, and why organiations facing necessary changes to their paradigm are prone to label the changes as "anomalies" so they can be discounted and avoided.

5-0 out of 5 stars should be mandatory reading for grad students in all fields
This book, more than any other, has changed the way that I think about scholarship. I am not even a student of the "hard" sciences (I study linguistic anthropology) and yet still found most of the concepts trenchant. By showing how the game is played, Kuhn raises important issues on how knowledge is produced, and the implications that follow. Real revolutions that propel fields forward are rarely achieved by discoveries of new data, but instead by viewing pre-existing data from novel perspectives. The implication is that while we should not abandon previous learning, part of genius is identifying and UNlearning implicit assumptions. The only criticism that I have is that Kuhn is not always clear as to whether he is writing descriptively or normatively. Nonetheless, this book is great. ... Read more

13. E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation
by David Bodanis
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425181642
Catlog: Book (2001-10-09)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 20317
Average Customer Review: 4.19 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Already climbing the bestseller lists-and garnering rave reviews-this "little masterpiece"* sheds brilliant light on the equation that changed the world.

"This is not a physics book. It is a history of where the equation [E=mc2] came from and how it has changed the world. After a short chapter on the equation's birth, Bodanis presents its five symbolic ancestors in sequence, each with its own chapter and each with rich human stories of achievement and failure, encouragement and duplicity, love and rivalry, politics and revenge. Readers meet not only famous scientists at their best and worst but also such famous and infamous characters as Voltaire and Marat...Bodanis includes detailed, lively andfascinating back matter...His acknowledgements end, 'I loved writing this book.' It shows." (The Cleveland Plain Dealer)

"E=mc2, focusing on the 1905 theory of special relativity, is just what itssubtitle says it is: a biography of the world's most famous equation, and it succeeds beautifully. For the first time, I really feel that I understand the meaning and implications of that equation, as Bodanis takes us through each symbol separately, including the = sign...there is a great 'aha!' awaiting the lay reader." (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

"'The equation that changed everything' is familiar to even the most physics-challenged, but it remains a fuzzy abstraction to most. Science writer Bodanis makes it a lot more clear." (Discover)

"Excellent...With wit and style, he explains every factor in the world's most famous and least understood equation....Every page is rich with surprising anecdotes about everything from Einstein's youth to the behind-the-scenes workings of the Roosevelt administration. Here's a prediction: E=mc2 is one of those odd, original, and handsomely written books that will prove more popular than even its publisher suspects." (Nashville Scene)

"You'll learn more in these 300 pages about folks like Faraday, Lavoisier, Davy and Rutherford than you will in many a science course...a clearly written, astonishingly understandable book that celebrates human achievement and provides some idea of the underlying scientific orderliness and logic that guides the stars and rules the universe."(Parade )

"Bodanis truly has a gift for bringing his subject matter to life." (Library Journal [starred review] )

"Entertaining...With anecdotes and illustrations, Bodanis effectively opens up E=mc2 to the widest audience." (Booklist )

"Accessible...he seeks, and deserves, many readers who know no physics. They'll learn a handful-more important, they'll enjoy it, and pick up a load of biographical and cultural curios along the way." (Publishers Weekly)

... Read more

Reviews (75)

3-0 out of 5 stars Science is great, history is not
I would give him five stars for his comprehensible explanation of the physics and the time he spent thinking of metaphors for the equation that make its effects understandable. However, his portraits of figures like Oppenheimer and Heisenberg are way off--extreme readings of uncited evidence that is frankly in conflict with both the historical record and the way that contemporary historians interpret it. Heisenberg was NOT a convinced Nazi--he was a German nationalist. There's a difference. Oppenheimer's personality problems were not at the basis of his later exclusion from further government nuclear research--his communist sympathies were the reason. Bodanis makes Teller sound like a crazy and not like the venerable scientist he was. What's sad about all of these misportraits is that they cast doubt on things I want to believe, about Lise Meitner and Celia Payne, for example. Read with care, and compare to a real book about the Manhattan Project (like Richard Rhodes' "Making of the Atomic Bomb") before you swallow this picture whole. For a much more balanced picture of some of the personalities involved that includes a readable account of the science, check out Freeman Dyson's "Disturbing the Universe."

4-0 out of 5 stars A bumpy ride through Relativity
This is a mildly eccentric book on Relativity. David Bodanis claims at the start that he won't be talking about physics and Einstein --- he's just going to tell you about The Famous Equation. But once he's done with the first chapter, which goes through the basic principles of the equation step-by-step, he gets into physics and Einstein. He loses his focus quickly, but he's always entertaining.

Bodanis loves colorful anecdotes about physicists, the art of discovery, contributions by neglected scientists (primarily women), and the prospect of the Nazis building an atomic bomb. It's this last topic that weakens the book. Frankly, the Nazis never came close to building an atomic bomb. Yes, they would have had a Fat Man or a Little Boy if they built reactors and had heavy water and understood the physics and had a team of scientists working on it and they tested it. But they didn't have any of it. "Might have" doesn't cut it.

The second half of this book is made up of biographies of scientists and extensive footnotes. Bodanis makes good use of the notes, giving you plenty of sources and a lot of additional information. His personal interests are on full display here, as he mentions whatever concept or story that the footnoted information triggers in his mind. It's fun to read, although it does tend to wander.

I recommend this book to anyone who's read a little bit about Relativity. It's a useful refresher, an eccentric view of the topic that will keep your interest. If you've never read about Relativity, try Gribbin and White's biography of Einstein first --- or, better yet, Richard Wolfson's book on Relativity (which is still the best).

5-0 out of 5 stars Reading this book requires E.
The simple equation having only 5 symbols is deep in meaning. It took the genious of Einstein to put the equation together way back in 1905 - - - What E found was: Energy equals mass when you accelerate mass to the speed of light squared. That's 670,000,000 mph times itself.
C stands for 'celeritis' in latin and it means, 'swiftness.' C squared is 448,900,000,000,000,000 mph!
No speedometer exists on Earth that can travel that fast! WOW!
Einstein knew that energy could naturally transform itself into mass under specific and unique condtions.
The equation was published in 1905 and essentially remained dormant and untested until the war.
Then it became a horrifying reality that Einstein himself wished he never uncovered all those years ago.
Other scientists converged their great minds together in a think tank called the Manhatten Projet, and the world changed for the worse --- upon their nuclear discoveries.
Did Fat Boy really need to do what he did?
NEVER! THe controversy broils to this day.
It is so strange to contemplate that in the pool of the most intelligent men on Earth, not a one of them was smart enough to forsee the evil that they created.
Like the saying goes, "You can lead a man to wisdom, but you can't make him think."
None of them thought about what this nuclear power could do when left in terrorist grips.
This book tells the story behind the famous little equation.
Einstein did play a part in developing nuclear arsonel, even though he later denied he encouraged it.
Please see his letter to President FDR on pages 117 - 18.
The reader is left to draw thier own conclusions on that.
Regardless of the controversy, I read this book and must give it my highest recommendations to all who ever wondered what this equation means. It's deep but not complex.
It's complex but not inaccessable by average minds.
What's really chilling is reading what is not said in between the lines of this book.
Could we have avoided the discovery of the Atomic bomb?
Imagine our world without it.....and to think, the Germans weren't all that close to uncovering the secret behind the destruction.
This is a good book about E = mc 2.
Read it and learn that all discoveries have a dark side.

4-0 out of 5 stars meandering history of relativity
In this slim and easy-to-read volume, David Bodanis gives us a meandering history of relativity. First, he looks at each of the individual pieces of the equation (even the equals sign gets its own chapter). Then, he builds up a discussion of other relevant work that led to Einstein's famous equation. He next discusses its applications. The book closes with an immense amount of back matter, including the footnotes and suggested further reading on the topic.

This book is not for physics students who are already intimately familiar with the requisite mathematics and physics. It is intended for a general audience that probably can't remember calculus (or was never introduced to it in the first place). Bodanis engages in a bit of handwaving to make the more difficult parts easier to accept; in general, he acknowledges this. I can't fault him for this decision, although the mathematician in me occasionally found it a bit frustrating.

Make sure that you read the footnotes! It's not necessary to flip back and forth between the main text and the footnotes, but at least read them when you've reached the end of the chapter. Scan past the ones that are simply listing the source material, and read the ones that are longer. There's a lot of great information to be found in those footnotes that doesn't quite fit into the main text. Some of it tells you a bit about what was going through the author's mind when he wrote his book, other material elaborates on what is in the book.

Also, read through the list of suggested readings. It's like getting book recommendations from a well-read friend. The suggestions are thorough, insightful, and often entertaining.

5-0 out of 5 stars Transforming human mass into energy for good
It is easy to think of technology in the context of hard science and with the intellect. Bodanis gives lay readers an appropriate level of insight about how math and science evolved through several hundred years to propel our species toward the elegant equation that changed the world. This historical journey enlivens many forgotten but critical thinkers who made it possible for a restive patent clerk to make the essential creative leap into the intellectual unknown. But this book accomplishes something else, even greater. The author's brilliant chapter describing in micro-second details the detonation of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima creates a powerful, sobering perspective of this fearsome technology and dispassionately reminds all of us of the threats looming. The author uses his beloved science to bring into searing perspective the human face of thermonuclear war. The power to manipulate the atom has the capacity for good in medicine and other human advancements, but it is also a power capable of planetary destruction. It is wise for lay readers to understand E=MC2 beyond science. Our survival is at stake. ... Read more

14. How to Prepare for the OGT : Ohio Graduation Test in Mathematics
by Tom Reardon
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0764123696
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: Barrons Educational Series
Sales Rank: 460483
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Book Description

An accredited Ohio high school math teacher who is also a math instructor at Ohio’s Youngstown State University offers Ohio high school students comprehensive preparation for the math exit exam. The test, which is taken in stages in the tenth-through-twelfth grades, is a prerequisite for high school graduation in Ohio. This brand-new manual’s subject review opens with a chapter on number, number sense, and operations; then goes on to review patterns, functions, and algebra; geometry and spatial sense; measurement; and data analysis and probability. The manual concludes with three full-length sample Ohio Graduation Tests (OGTs) with solutions for all problems. Valuable appendices offer an OGT calculator primer, an OGT mathematics reference sheet, and a glossary of mathematical terminology. The book is an excellent learning tool for individual students or for use in classrooms, featuring more than 800 OGT problems, examples and exercises with an explanation accompanying the solution of every problem. ... Read more

15. Masters of Chaos: The Secret History of the Special Forces
by Linda Robinson
list price: $26.95
our price: $16.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1586482491
Catlog: Book (2004-10-30)
Publisher: PublicAffairs
Sales Rank: 515
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Book Description

A journalist with unique access tells the gripping, never-before-told, inside story of America's elite troops in action -- from the nadir of their reputation after Vietnam to their preeminence today on the frontlines against terrorism around the world.

Special Forces soldiers are daring, seasoned troops from America's heartland, selected in a tough competition and trained in an extraordinary range of skills. They know foreign languages and cultures and unconventional warfare better than any U.S. fighters, and while they prefer to stay out of the limelight, veteran war correspondent Linda Robinson gained access to their closed world. She traveled with them on the frontlines, interviewed them at length on their home bases, and studied their doctrine, methods and history. In Masters of Chaos she tells their story through a select group of senior sergeants and field-grade officers, a band of unforgettable characters like Rawhide, Killer, Michael T, and Alan -- led by the unflappable Lt. Col. Chris Conner and Col. Charlie Cleveland, a brilliant but self-effacing West Pointer who led the largest unconventional war campaign since Vietnam in northern Iraq.

Robinson follows the Special Forces from their first post-Vietnam combat in Panama, El Salvador, Desert Storm, Somalia, and the Balkans to their recent trials and triumphs in Afghanistan and Iraq. She witnessed their secret sleuthing and unsung successes in southern Iraq, and recounts here for the first time the dramatic firefights of the western desert. Her blow-by-blow story of the attack on Ansar al-Islam's international terrorist training camp has never been told before. The most comprehensive account ever of the modern-day Special Forces in action, Masters of Chaos is filled with riveting, intimate detail in the words of a close-knit band of soldiers who have done it all. AUTHOR BIO: Linda Robinson is a senior writer for U.S. News & World Report. She was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 2000-2001 and in 1999 she received the Maria Moors Cabot prize form Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. She has covered numerous wars, guerrilla conflicts and special forces operations, and currently lives in Washington, D.C. ... Read more

16. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History
by JohnBarry
list price: $16.00
our price: $10.88
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Asin: 0143034480
Catlog: Book (2005-02-01)
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics)
Sales Rank: 6020
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the winter of 1918, at the height of WWI, history’s most lethal influenza virus erupted in anarmy camp in Kansas, moved east with American troops, then exploded, killing as many as 100million people worldwide. It killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed intwenty-four years, more in a year than the Black Death killed in a century. But this was not theMiddle Ages, and 1918 marked the first collision of science and epidemic disease. Magisterial inits breadth of perspective and depth of research, John M. Barry weaves together multiplenarratives, with characters ranging from William Welch (founder of Johns Hopkins MedicalSchool) to John D. Rockefeller and Woodrow Wilson. Ultimately a tale of triumph amid tragedy,this crisis provides a precise and sobering model for our world as we confront AIDS, bioterrorism,and other, as yet unknown, diseases. ... Read more

Reviews (57)

4-0 out of 5 stars Very Scary!
I remember stories about the Great Flu from older relatives who were children in 1918.It was like someone describing living thru the days of the black plague.

I found this book to be a good history of that time and a good biography of the doctors who tried to stem the pandemic that was killing more Americans than German bullets in 1918.The epidemic killed 5% of the world's population between the ages of 15-35.A great tragedy when compiled on top of those lost in battle from 1914-18.Isolated peoples on the pacific islands and in the artic who had never been exposed to various strains of the flu were practically wiped out.

I found the book provided an intimate glimpse into the lives of the people fighting the pandemic in the US and into those infected.It was also insightful to see the blindness of government bureaucrats who made decisions to promote the war effort at the expense of protecting the public from infuenza.

The scariest thing is we're on a mutation or so away from another pandemic the size of 1918.See Nature's imaginary blog imagining such a future in this month's(May 2005) and be really scared.

5-0 out of 5 stars extraordinary book, and more than a little frightening
This is simply one of the very best books I've ever read. In fact, it's really three books, and the author executes each one of them magnificently. One is like a good adventure novel, fast paced, suspenseful, with well-drawn characters, a few villains, and a few heroes. This novelistic (though obviously well-researched and well-documented) book is imposed upon sort of a second book, an unusually perceptive and eye-opening history of the home front in World War I, of Woodrow Wilson, etc. Together they make great reading. The third book is almost separate; it is, frankly challenging reading if you, like me, know nothing about science. This part describes how the virus (and by implication all invading microorganisms) and our immune system interact, and gives you a very deep understanding from the level of molecular biology right up to why our nose runs. (I see one reviewer complained this book doesn't tell him about influenza. I can't see how he could possibly say this. My internist actually recommended this book to me, and he said the book tells you more about influenza than most doctors know.) If you're up to the challenge, you'll be happy you tackled it. If not, skip these parts, which are clearly delineated, and settle for the story-- a very important story, with direct relevance right now to everything from avian flu in Asia to the threat of bioterrorism.

2-0 out of 5 stars Deadly reading
Although it is full of information about the pandemic of 1918, and the "story" of this event itself is fascinating, I found the book very poorly organized.The author did not follow a consistent plan for introducing the characters, describing the timeline of the pandemic, or illuminating the progress of medical science at this time and because of this event.All that info was there but not in a progression that was logical to follow.

2-0 out of 5 stars This is a study of the scientists not the science
I was disappointed in this book. First, it only looked at the USA and ignored the rest of the world (this was a world-wide pandemic). Second, and more importantly, this is a study of the scientists looking at the pandemic and how it changed American medicine. If you are looking for insights into influenza and the Great Pandemic, look elsewhere. The title and dust jacket are very decieving. Obviously, my gripe is more from my expectation that this was about influenza. It is well researched and well written. If you are looking for a tome on these scientist, the fantastic contributions they made, and the evalution of American medicine in the early 20th century, this is your book.

4-0 out of 5 stars An Important Book
John Barry's book on the influenza pandemic of 1918 is an incredibly researched and well written account on theinfluenza virus that claimed millions of lives around the globe. The estimates vary from as "low" as 20 million to as high as 100 million. Those numbers today would almost be unimaginable. In this country alone Barry states that around 675,000 people died. In addition to the deadly virus itself, Barry discusses the state of medical science in this country at the time and how it developed, the leaders who pushed for this movement and those who tried to combat the influenza virus, and the lessons learned from this deadly pandemic and how to be better prepared in the future.

This book I'm sure has and will attract a wide range of readers, as a history major I can relate to that aspect of the book more so than the scientific and medical aspect, but even that part is still very accessible, even for those of us who aren't as well versed in all the terminology. The first part of the book begins with some of the emerging figures as well as emerging institutions like the Johns Hopkins University and the Rockefeller Institute that would change and enhance the state of medical sciencein this country, which at the time lacked the leaders and institutions found in parts of Europe.

Many leading figures are ably discussed by Barry, people like Welch, Cole, Park and Williams, Avery,Lewis, Army Surgeon Gorgas and many others who worked valiantly to combat the deadly effects of this particular strand of influenza. He also discusses those who saw the dangers and did little or nothing to alert others or work to combat the virus, including big city bureaucrats, the Wilson Administration and the newspapers. Indeed, he is quite condemning of the nation's newspapers who tried to reassure people that everything wasn't as bad as some were saying. This was all part of an effort to promote Wilson's idea that the nation needed to be focused on the war effort and preserving morale. Barry even concludes by saying that the coverup by the major newspapers even contributed to the fear and death toll the influenza was exacting. Maybe that's a little too strong, but I'm sure many people in various leadership positions from the local level to the top certainly didn't help matters.

Barry's narrative is at its best in describing the spread of the influenza from camp to camp, city to city, and the horrible toll is was exacting on the population. Cities like Philadelphia where bodies had to wait on porches to be picked up, homes identified by markings in which a family member was either sick with or had died from the influenza. He is also good in describing the valiant efforts of those who worked hard to combat this deadly virus, many I mentioned in the previous paragraph. Many of the stories are heartbreaking where some families lost so many of their own or in populations like the Eskimos and others whose immune systems were extremely vulnerable to this kind of virus and as a result suffered higher mortality rates. People in my age group (20-30) suffered higher mortality rates than the elderly, which at first seems to us as contrary to most other death rate statistics.

There's a lot I'm leaving out, but this book is worth reading. For me some areas are better written than others, but overall it is very well researched and because of its subject matter sure to make you think, what if something like that influenza outbreak of 1918 or some other disease or some type ofbioterrorist attack hit today? Would we be prepared? Barry discusses this in his conclusion and it's sure to make you pause and think. ... Read more

17. Electric Universe : The Shocking True Story of Electricity
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
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Asin: 1400045509
Catlog: Book (2005-02-15)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 339066
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18. Essentials of Physical Geography (with CD-ROM and InfoTrac)
by Robert E. Gabler, James F. Petersen, L. Michael Trepasso
list price: $110.95
our price: $110.95
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Asin: 0030338220
Catlog: Book (2003-07-21)
Publisher: Brooks Cole
Sales Rank: 91363
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Book Description

ESSENTIALS OF PHYSICAL GEOGRAPHY uses the combined expertise of three respected geographers to create the ultimate tool for illustrating physical geography concepts and helping students bridge the gap between scientific theory, practical application, and the human-environmental interface. The text emphasizes student involvement and interaction in the learning process, while combining the traditional and newer systems approaches. ESSENTIALS identifies and demonstrates three major roles for the discipline--Geography as a Physical Science, Geography as the Spatial Science, and Geography as Environmental Science. Our vibrant author team consists of Gabler (Western Illinois), Petersen (Southwest Texas State) and a new addition to the team--Trapasso (Western Kentucky). Gabler's decades of authoring experience combine with Petersen's geomorphology specialty and Trapasso's climatology expertise to invigorate a classic text. We offer a unique technology package, combining two proprietary CD-ROMs with FREE InfoTrac® College Edition access. ... Read more

19. The Bomb : A Life,
by Gerard J. DeGroot
list price: $27.95
our price: $18.45
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Asin: 0674017242
Catlog: Book (2005-03-31)
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Sales Rank: 13014
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Book Description

Bombs are as old as hatred itself. But it was the twentieth century--one hundred years of incredible scientific progress and terrible war--that brought forth the Big One, the Bomb, humanity's most powerful and destructive invention. In The Bomb: A Life, Gerard DeGroot tells the story of this once unimaginable weapon that--at least since 8:16 a.m. on August 6, 1945--has haunted our dreams and threatened our existence.

The Bomb has killed hundreds of thousands outright, condemned many more to lingering deaths, and made vast tracts of land unfit for life. For decades it dominated the psyches of millions, becoming a touchstone of popular culture, celebrated or decried in mass political movements, films, songs, and books. DeGroot traces the life of the Bomb from its birth in turn-of-the-century physics labs of Europe to a childhood in the New Mexico desert of the 1940s, from adolescence and early adulthood in Nagasaki and Bikini, Australia and Kazakhstan to maturity in test sites and missile silos around the globe. His book portrays the Bomb's short but significant existence in all its scope, providing us with a portrait of the times and the people--from Oppenheimer to Sakharov, Stalin to Reagan--whose legacy still shapes our world.

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20. The Ancestor's Tale : A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution
by Richard Dawkins
list price: $28.00
our price: $16.80
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Asin: 0618005838
Catlog: Book (2004-10-27)
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Sales Rank: 98
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Just as we trace our personal family trees from parents to grandparents and so on back in time, so in The Ancestor's Tale Richard Dawkins traces the ancestry of life. As he is at pains to point out, this is very much our human tale, our ancestry. Surprisingly, it is one that many otherwise literate people are largely unaware of. Hopefully Dawkins's name and well deserved reputation as a best selling writer will introduce them to this wonderful saga.

The Ancestor's Tale takes us from our immediate human ancestors back through what he calls ‘concestors,’ those shared with the apes, monkeys and other mammals and other vertebrates and beyond to the dim and distant microbial beginnings of life some 4 billion years ago. It is a remarkable story which is still very much in the process of being uncovered. And, of course from a scientist of Dawkins stature and reputation we get an insider's knowledge of the most up-to-date science and many of those involved in the research. And, as we have come to expect of Dawkins, it is told with a passionate commitment to scientific veracity and a nose for a good story. Dawkins's knowledge of the vast and wonderful sweep of life's diversity is admirable. Not only does it encompass the most interesting living representatives of so many groups of organisms but also the important and informative fossil ones, many of which have only been found in recent years.

Dawkins sees his journey with its reverse chronology as ‘cast in the form of an epic pilgrimage from the present to the past [and] all roads lead to the origin of life.’ It is, to my mind, a sensible and perfectly acceptable approach although some might complain about going against the grain of evolution. The great benefit for the general reader is that it begins with the more familiar present and the animals nearest and dearest to us—ourimmediate human ancestors. And then it delves back into the more remote and less familiar past with its droves of lesser known and extinct fossil forms. The whole pilgrimage is divided into 40 tales, each based around a group of organisms and discusses their role in the overall story. Genetic, morphological and fossil evidence is all taken into account and illustrated with a wealth of photos and drawings of living and fossils forms, evolutionary and distributional charts and maps through time, providing a visual compliment and complement to the text. The design also allows Dawkins to make numerous running comments and characteristic asides. There are also numerous references and a good index.-- Douglas Palmer ... Read more

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