Monday, July 7, 2014

New Titles


1) Horwitz, Joshua. War of the Whales: A True Story. 2014. Simon and Schuster. Hardbound: 426 pages. Price: $28.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: War of the Whales is the gripping tale of a crusading attorney who stumbles on one of the US Navy’s best-kept secrets: a submarine detection system that floods entire ocean basins with high-intensity sound—and drives whales onto beaches. As Joel Reynolds launches a legal fight to expose and challenge the Navy program, marine biologist Ken Balcomb witnesses a mysterious mass stranding of whales near his research station in the Bahamas. Investigating this calamity, Balcomb is forced to choose between his conscience and an oath of secrecy he swore to the Navy in his youth.
     When Balcomb and Reynolds team up to expose the truth behind an epidemic of mass strandings, the stage is set for an epic battle that pits admirals against activists, rogue submarines against weaponized dolphins, and national security against the need to safeguard the ocean environment. Waged in secret military labs and the nation’s highest court, War of the Whales is a real-life thriller that combines the best of legal drama, natural history, and military intrigue. 
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in the sonar vs. whales debate.


2) Smith, James P. Jr.. Field Guide to Grasses of California. 2014. University of California Press. Paperback: 437 pages. Price: $26.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Grasses and grasslands are of increasing interest to conservationists, biologists, and gardeners. There are more than 300 species of native California grasses and they are found in almost every climate—from cool, wet forests to hot, dry deserts. Native grasses are also important to land restoration as they improve soil quality, increase water infiltration, and recycle nutrients. Their deep roots can tap soil water, which allows them to stay green year-round and to act as fire buffers around residences. Native grasses also provide vital habitat for many species of insects, birds, reptiles, and mammals. Despite their importance, grasslands remain one of the most underprotected of California's vegetation types, and native grasslands have undergone the greatest percentage loss of any habitat type in the state. Grasses are also among the most difficult plants to identify. Organized alphabetically, Field Guide to Grasses of California covers common native and naturalized grasses and, to help identify them, also features over 180 color illustrations. 
RECOMMENDATION: A useful guide to the grasses of the region. 

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