Monday, May 9, 2016

New Titles



1) Hibbitts, Troy D. and  Terry L. Hibbitts. Texas Turtles & Crocodilians: A Field Guide. 2016. University of Texas Press. Paperback: 257 pages. Price: $24.95 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: Texas has a large and diverse turtle population, with forms that are found nowhere else (Cagle’s Map Turtle and the Texas Map Turtle) and wide-ranging species that barely touch the state, including the Painted Turtles and the Rough-footed Mud Turtle. From the Sabine River to El Paso, and from the Rio Grande to the Panhandle, thirty-one native and established exotic turtle species are definitely known in Texas, along with one crocodilian, the American Alligator.
    Texas Turtles & Crocodilians is the first complete identification guide to all the state’s turtles and to its single alligator. It offers detailed species accounts, range maps, and excellent color photographs to aid in field identification. The authors, two of the state’s most knowledgeable herpetologists, open the book with a broad overview of turtle natural history, conservation biology, observation, and captive maintenance before providing a key to Texas turtles and accounts of the various turtle families and species. Appendices provide brief accounts of species that occurred prehistorically in Texas and non-established exotic species, as well as a table of Texas’ major watersheds and the turtle diversity in each one. Informational resources on Texas turtles and alligators, a map of Texas counties, a glossary, a bibliography, and indexes of common and scientific names complete the volume.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with an interest in Texan turtles and the American Alligator. 


 
2) Levin, Ted. America's Snake: The Rise and Fall of the Timber Rattlesnake. 2016. The University of Chicago Press. Hardbound: 481 pages. Price: $35.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: There’s no sound quite like it, or as viscerally terrifying: the ominous rattle of the timber rattlesnake. It’s a chilling shorthand for imminent danger, and a reminder of the countless ways that nature can suddenly snuff us out.
      Yet most of us have never seen a timber rattler. Though they’re found in thirty-one states, and near many major cities, in contemporary America timber rattlesnakes are creatures mostly of imagination and innate fear.
       Ted Levin aims to change that with America’s Snake, a portrait of the timber rattlesnake, its place in America’s pantheon of creatures and in our own frontier history—and of the heroic efforts to protect it against habitat loss, climate change, and the human tendency to kill what we fear. Taking us from labs where the secrets of the snake’s evolutionary history are being unlocked to far-flung habitats whose locations are fiercely protected by biologists and dedicated amateur herpetologists alike, Levin paints a picture of a fascinating creature: peaceable, social, long-lived, and, despite our phobias, not inclined to bite. The timber rattler emerges here as emblematic of America and also, unfortunately, of the complicated, painful struggles involved in protecting and preserving the natural world.
      A wonderful mix of natural history, travel writing, and exemplary journalism, America’s Snake is loaded with remarkable characters—none more so than the snake at its heart: frightening, perhaps; endangered, certainly; and unquestionably unforgettable.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have if you're interested in this species!


3) Mukherjee, Siddhartha. The Gene: An Intimate History. 2016. Scribner. Hardbound: 592 pages. Price: $32.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: From the Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author of The Emperor of All Maladies—a magnificent history of the gene and a response to the defining question of the future: What becomes of being human when we learn to “read” and “write” our own genetic information?
     The extraordinary Siddhartha Mukherjee has a written a biography of the gene as deft, brilliant, and illuminating as his extraordinarily successful biography of cancer. Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative to tell us the story of one of the most important conceptual breakthroughs of modern times, Mukherjee animates the quest to understand human heredity and its surprising influence on our lives, personalities, identities, fates, and choices.
      Throughout the narrative, the story of Mukherjee’s own family—with its tragic and bewildering history of mental illness—cuts like a bright, red line, reminding us of the many questions that hang over our ability to translate the science of genetics from the laboratory to the real world. In superb prose and with an instinct for the dramatic scene, he describes the centuries of research and experimentation—from Aristotle and Pythagoras to Mendel and Darwin, from Boveri and Morgan to Crick, Watson and Franklin, all the way through the revolutionary twenty-first century innovators who mapped the human genome.
      As The New Yorker said of The Emperor of All Maladies, “It’s hard to think of many books for a general audience that have rendered any area of modern science and technology with such intelligence, accessibility, and compassion…An extraordinary achievement.” Riveting, revelatory, and magisterial history of a scientific idea coming to life, and an essential preparation for the moral complexity introduced by our ability to create or “write” the human genome, The Gene is a must-read for everyone concerned about the definition and future of humanity. This is the most crucial science of our time, intimately explained by a master.
RECOMMENDATION: If you enjoyed the author's The Emperor of All Maladies you should enjoy this book.






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