Thursday, March 16, 2017
1) Fuller, Randall. The Book That Changed America: How Darwin's Theory of Evolution Ignited a Nation. 2017. Viking. Hardbound: 294 pages. Price: $27.00 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A compelling portrait of a unique moment in American history when the ideas of Charles Darwin reshaped American notions about nature, religion, science and race.
Throughout its history America has been torn in two by debates over ideals and beliefs. Randall Fuller takes us back to one of those turning points, in 1860, with the story of the influence of Charles Darwin’s just-published On the Origin of Species on five American intellectuals, including Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, the child welfare reformer Charles Loring Brace, and the abolitionist Franklin Sanborn.
Each of these figures seized on the book’s assertion of a common ancestry for all creatures as a powerful argument against slavery, one that helped provide scientific credibility to the cause of abolition. Darwin’s depiction of constant struggle and endless competition described America on the brink of civil war. But some had difficulty aligning the new theory to their religious convictions and their faith in a higher power. Thoreau, perhaps the most profoundly affected all, absorbed Darwin’s views into his mysterious final work on species migration and the interconnectedness of all living things.
Creating a rich tableau of nineteenth-century American intellectual culture, as well as providing a fascinating biography of perhaps the single most important idea of that time, The Book That Changed America is also an account of issues and concerns still with us today, including racism and the enduring conflict between science and religion.
RECOMMENDATION: For those with an interest in Darwinian related history.
2) Mitchell, Dominic. Birds of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East: An Annotated Checklist. 2017. Lynx Edicions. Hardbound: 335 pages. Price: $37.50 U.S.
PUBLISHER'S SUMMARY: A detailed systematic list of all 1,148 species with Latin and English names, other names, taxonomy, and distribution for each.
This is the most up-to-date annotated checklist of bird species and subspecies recorded in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, including Iran and the Arabian Peninsula - the 'greater' Western Palearctic. Species are presented in systematic order, and each species entry includes scientific and English names, taxonomic notes, distribution and range/vagrancy occurrences within the region. In addition to the main list of almost 1,150 species, appendices detail regionally endemic and extinct birds, those no longer considered to have occurred, and the national lists of all regional countries. The first major update for Europe, North Africa and the Middle East since the Birds of the Western Palearctic series came to an end two decades ago, this long-awaited checklist is essential reading for all those with an interest in the 'WP' and its avifauna.
A detailed systematic list based on the taxonomy of the IOC World Bird List. IUCN Red List category, world range and regional distribution are summarized for each species. Also includes all widely used alternative English names.
RECOMMENDATION: A must have for those with a serious interest in the birds of the Western Palearctic.