1) Harris, Mike P. and Sarah Wanless. The Puffin. 2012. Yale University Press. Hardbound: 256 pages. Price: $80.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: At sea for most of the year and preferring remote offshore islands for its breeding habitat, the Atlantic Puffin has lived a life largely hidden from human observation. But now, thanks to persistent study by seabird scientists and exciting new research methods, many of the puffin's secrets can be told. This thorough and charmingly illustrated book reveals in detail the puffin's life history, behavior, ecology, population dynamics, and future prospects.
Eminent seabird ecologists Mike P. Harris and Sarah Wanless create the most complete and up-to-date portrait of puffins ever published. Of particular interest are their recent insights into puffins' winter whereabouts and activities while at sea, made possible by miniature, bird-borne tracking devices that provide unprecedented records of bird activity.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the Atlantic Puffin!
2) Raff, Rudolf A.. Once We All Had Gills: Growing Up Evolutionist in an Evolving World. 2012. Indiana University Press. Hardbound: 329 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
SUMMARY: In this book, Rudolf A. Raff reaches out to the scientifically queasy, using his life story and his growth as a scientist to illustrate why science matters, especially at a time when many Americans are both suspicious of science and hostile to scientific ways of thinking. Noting that science has too often been the object of controversy in school curriculums and debates on public policy issues ranging from energy and conservation to stem-cell research and climate change, Raff argues that when the public is confused or ill-informed, these issues tend to be decided on religious, economic, and political grounds that disregard the realities of the natural world. Speaking up for science and scientific literacy, Raff tells how and why he became an evolutionary biologist and describes some of the vibrant and living science of evolution.
Once We All Had Gills is also the story of evolution writ large: its history, how it is studied, what it means, and why it has become a useful target in a cultural war against rational thought and the idea of a secular, religiously tolerant nation.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the role that science (especially evolution) can/should play in our society.