Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Titles

1) Manakadan, Ranjit et al.. Birds of the Indian Subcontinent: A Field Guide. 2011. BNHS/Oxford. Hardbound: 409 pages. Price: $34.99 U.S.

SUMMARY: This book is a revised edition of a pictorial guide to the birds of the Indian subcontinent first published in 1983. The book deals with the birds of the Indian Subcontinent--India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, including the islands of Andaman and Nicobars, Lakshadweep, and Maldives and not includes Afghanistan and the Chagos Archipelago. The main part of the book is taken up by bird topography and complemented by 112 plates containing illustrations of 1251 species to describe how their family/species perceived in the society. Additional notes of over 100 definite species are also provided to add special flavour to the reader. The Guide contains species descriptions to aid field identification, as there are quite a few bird species where a pictorial representation is not sufficient, especially to identify similar looking birds. The brief descriptions of the species have been added to enable quick identification, except for species where more detailing is required.
     The detailed indices--of group and stand-alone names, common names, and scientific names of the birds of the Indian Subcontinent--would be of immense help to the serious scholars and researcher of birds of the Indian Subcontinent. This book features:

*Revised edition of a pictorial guide to the birds
*Brief descriptions on similar looking birds
*112 plates containing illustrations of 1251 species

RECOMMENDATION: This book lacks range maps and the artwork by John Henry Dick looks out-of-date. I prefer Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by Grimmett and the Inskipps.

2) Moran, Jeffrey P.. American Genesis: The Evolution Controversies from Scopes to Creation Science. 2012. Oxford University Press. Hardbound: 196 pages. Price: $29.95 U.S.
SUMMARY:The question of teaching evolution in the public schools is a continuing and frequently heated political issue in America. From Tennessee's Scopes Trial in 1925 to recent battles that have erupted in Louisiana, Kansas, Ohio, and countless other localities, the critics and supporters of evolution have fought nonstop over the role of science and religion in American public life.
     In American Genesis, Jeffrey P. Moran explores the ways in which the evolution debate has reverberated beyond the confines of state legislatures and courthouses. Using extensive research in newspapers, periodicals, and archives, Moran shows that social forces such as gender, regionalism, and race have intersected with the debate over evolution in ways that shed light on modern American culture. He investigates, for instance, how antievolutionism deepened the cultural divisions between North and South--northerners embraced evolution as a sign of sectional enlightenment, while southerners defined themselves as the standard bearers of true Christianity. Evolution debates also exposed a deep gulf between conservative Black Christians and secular intellectuals such as W. E. B. DuBois. Moran also explores the ways in which the struggle has played out in the universities, on the internet, and even within the evangelical community. Throughout, he shows that evolution has served as a weapon, as an enforcer of identity, and as a polarizing force both within and without the churches.
     America has both the most advanced scientific infrastructure as well as the highest rate of church adherence among developed nations, and the issues raised in the evolution controversies touch the heart of our national identity. American Genesis makes an important contribution to our understanding of the impact of this contentious issue, revealing how its tendrils have stretched out to touch virtually every corner of our lives. This book features:

* Goes beyond a depiction of legal and political battles to explore the ideology and identities of both creationists and evolutionary scientists.
* Analyzes the roles that race and gender have played in the antievolution controversies and, conversely, examines the ways in which overlooked groups have made their own use of creationism and evolutionary thought.
* Situates the antievolution impulse within the context of American populism and regionalism.

RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the creationism/evolution debate.

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