Thursday, April 15, 2010

New Titles:

1) Darwin, Charles. Insectivorous Plants. 2009. Cambridge University Press. Paperback: 462 pages. Price: $29.99 U.S.
SUMMARY: Charles Darwin (1809-1882) had long been fascinated by insectivorous palnts, from the round-leafed sundew and bladderworts to the exotic Pinguiculas (butterworts) and Nepenthes ( pitcher plants) we he encounted during the Beagle voyage. This books showsthe results of his experiments on these plants that showed evolutionary adaptation in their highly specialized methods of obtaining nutrients.
RECOMMENDATION: For those interested in the works of Charles Darwin or in insectivorous plants.

2)Dingus, Lowell and Mark A. Norell. Barnum Brown: The Man Who Discovered Tyrannosaurus rex. 2010. University of California Press. Hardbound: 368 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
SUMMARY:From his stunning discovery of Tyrannosaurus rex one hundred years ago to the dozens of other important new dinosaur species he found, Barnum Brown led a remarkable life (1873–1963), spending most of it searching for fossils—and sometimes oil—in every corner of the globe. One of the most famous scientists in the world during the middle of the twentieth century, Brown—who lived fast, dressed to the nines, gambled, drank, smoked, and was known as a ladies' man—became as legendary as the dinosaurs he uncovered. Barnum Brown brushes off the loose sediment to reveal the man behind the legend. Drawing on Brown's field correspondence and unpublished notes, and on the writings of his daughter and his two wives, it discloses for the first time details about his life and travels—from his youth on the western frontier to his spying for the U.S. government under cover of his expeditions. This absorbing biography also takes full measure of Brown's extensive scientific accomplishments, making it the definitive account of the life and times of a singular man and a superlative fossil hunter.
RECOMMENDATION:For those interested in paleontological history.

3) Fry, Juliane L. et al. The Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change: A Complete Visual Guide. 2010. University of California Press. Hardbound: 512 pages. Price: $39.95 U.S.
SUMMARY:This comprehensive and up-to-date volume covers in amazing depth all aspects of the world's weather. Liberally illustrated with more than 2,000 color photographs, supplemental maps, diagrams, and other images, The Encyclopedia of Weather and Climate Change takes the reader beyond simple definitions to explore where weather comes from and the roles played by oceans and water cycles, and explains such related phenomena as the shaping of landforms, the creation of biological provinces, and the lasting ramifications of climate change. It also discusses how humans have survived and adapted in extreme climates like deserts, jungles, and icy regions. Each of the book's six sections is written and vetted by a different expert. "Engine" discusses what weather is, the solar powerhouse that supplies it, and Earth's atmospheric systems and seasons. "Action" delves into the dynamics of various weather forms. "Extremes" covers blizzards, heat waves, wildfires, and more. "Watching" tracks how weather is measured, mapped, monitored, and forecast. "Climate" delineates the continental climate zones and describes the plant, animal, and human adaptations for each. "Change" considers the history of climate change—ice ages, dinosaur extinction, melting glaciers, human impact, and more—and what we can expect in the future.
RECOMMENDATION: A good introduction on the subjects of weather, climate and climate change.

4) Horn, James. A Kingdom Strange: The Brief and Tragic History of the Lost Colony of Roanoke. 2010. Basic Books. Hardbound: 296 pages. Price: $26.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: In 1587, John White and 117 men, women, and children landed off the coast of North Carolina on Roanoke Island, hoping to carve a colony from fearsome wilderness. A mere month later, facing quickly diminishing supplies and a fierce native population, White sailed back to England in desperation. He persuaded the wealthy Sir Walter Raleigh, the expedition’s sponsor, to rescue the imperiled colonists, but by the time White returned with aid the colonists of Roanoke were nowhere to be found. He never saw his friends or family again. In this gripping account based on new archival material, colonial historian James Horn tells for the first time the complete story of what happened to the Roanoke colonists and their descendants. A compellingly original examination of one of the great unsolved mysteries of American history, A Kingdom Strange will be essential reading for anyone interested in our national origins.
RECOMMENDATION: An interesting read on a mysterious chapter of American colonial history.

5) Rose, Sarah. For All The Tea In China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History. 2010. Viking. Hardbound: 261 pages. Price: $25.95 U.S.
SUMMARY: In 1848, the British East India Company, having lost its monopoly on the tea trade, engaged Robert Fortune, a Scottish gardener, botanist, and plant hunter, to make a clandestine trip into the interior of China—territory forbidden to foreigners—to steal the closely guarded secrets of tea horticulture and manufacturing. For All the Tea in China is the remarkable account of Fortune's journeys into China—a thrilling narrative that combines history, geography, botany, natural science, and old-fashioned adventure.Disguised in Mandarin robes, Fortune ventured deep into the country, confronting pirates, hostile climate, and his own untrustworthy men as he made his way to the epicenter of tea production, the remote Wu Yi Shan hills. One of the most daring acts of corporate espionage in history, Fortune's pursuit of China's ancient secret makes for a classic nineteenth-century adventure tale, one in which the fate of empires hinges on the feats of one extraordinary man.
SUMMARY: For those interested in history, especially the history of food and drink.

6) Serjeantson, Dale. Birds. 2009. Cambridge University Press. Paperback: 486 pages. Price: $43.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: Birds is the first book to examine bird remains in archaeology and anthropology. Providing a thorough review of the literature on this topic, it also serves as a guide to the methods of study of bird remains from the past and covers a wide range of topics, including anatomy and osteology, taphonomy, eggs, feathers, and, bone tools. It examines the myriad ways in which people have interacted with birds in the past. The volume also includes discussion on the consumption of wild birds, the domestication of birds, cockfighting and falconry, birds in ritual and religion, and the role of birds in ecological reconstruction, providing an up-to-date survey of current knowledge on these topics.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with a technical interest in archaeology or ethno-ornithology.

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