Category Archives: book reviews

Five Books: Robert McCrum’s list of the best novels in English

Over at Five Books, writer and journalist John Robert McCrum (also an associate editor of The Observer) has compiled a list of his Five Best Novels in English, and also makes some thoughtful remarks about other novels and the genre in general. (The interviewer is my friend Sophie Roell, whose questions to McCrum are in bold.) […]

Robert Sapolsky takes on free will in “Behave”

I wasn’t able to finish Robert Sapolsky’s relatively new book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst, for two reasons. First, I found the opening several hundred pages pretty boring. Despite Sapolsky’s valiant attempt to write engagingly—and he can do so in places—the material was a tedious disquisition on hormones, neurons, and other material […]

Reza Aslan’s new book, in which he becomes a pantheist

Reza Aslan’s new book, God: A Human History, came out five days ago. Click on the screenshot to go to the Amazon page: Curiously, despite Aslan’s recent television series, Believer, the book doesn’t seem to be garnering a lot of attention—or praise. (But perhaps that’s because his series was dreadful and got canceled.) The book got […]

Favorite fiction of the last 200 years

I was talking to my friend Tim last night, and told him I’d come upon a Guardian list of novels that everyone should have read before leaving college, and that the list included Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (seriously?) as well as Lord of the Rings (a good and entertaining read, but not nearly as […]

Evolution-dissing, teoleogical, Templeton-funded book gets a star on Kirkus

A book called Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something “Alive” and Why Modern Darwinism has Failed to Explain it“, by J. Scott Turner, came out September 12, published by HarperOne.  It hasn’t sold very well, despite Amazon recommendations by Intelligent Design advocates and Discovery Institute members Douglas Axe and Stephen Meyer and, amazingly, a starred […]

Questions about a new book on the Right, and NPR’s misstep in reviewing it

Reader Cesar called my attention to an Internet fracas I’d missed. You can read a bit about it in the Wall Street Journal, though it’s behind a paywall unless you’re a subscriber. Judicious inquiry may allow you to find their piece. The book at issue is a new one (published on June 13 of this […]

How Kirkus changed its review of American Heart after mob pressure

Yesterday I reported  that Kirkus, one of the three “biggie” reviewing services that vets books for libraries and readers before publication, had removed a prized star from one of its reviews: that of American Heart by Laura Moriarty (out January 2018).  It’s a “young adult” novel describing hypothetical America in which Muslims, as were many Japanese in […]

A book recommendation: “Unwanted Advances” by Laura Kipnis

I recently wrote about the mess that resulted when the Obama administration (the Office of Civil Rights) sent its “Dear Colleague” letter to American colleges, in effect telling them that all cases of sexual assault and harassment on campuses should be adjudicated by a “preponderance of evidence” standard: if it’s more likely than not that […]

“Testosterone Rex”, a biased polemic, wins the Royal Society book prize

I’ve now finished Cordelia Fine’s newest book, Testosterone Rex: Myths of Sex, Science, and Society. I’ve also read her earlier work, Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference, so I’ve polished off both of her highly-regarded books on sex differences in behavior. Both books have a similar thesis: there’s essentially no evolved difference […]

Steve Jones reviews Wilson’s book on Darwin in the Times

My old friend Steve Jones, an evolutionary geneticist at University College London,  writer of popular science books, and a collaborator on field work in Maryland and California, has written a review in the Times of A. N. Wilson’s new book on Darwin, Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker, With 46 customer reviews on Amazon UK, the book […]