With The Best American Science and Nature Writing, Houghton Mifflin expands its stellar Best American series with a volume that honors our long and distinguished history of publishing the best writers in these fields.
David Quammen, together with series editor Burkhard Bilger, has assembled a remarkable group of writers whose selections appeared in periodicals from NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, SCIENCE, and THE NEW YORKER to PUERTO DEL SOL and DOUBLETAKE. Among the acclaimed writers represented in this volume are Richard Preston on The Demon in the Freezer,” John McPhee bidding Farewell to the Nineteeth Century,” Oliver Sacks remembering the Brilliant Light” of his boyhood, and Wendell Berry going Back to the Land.” Also including such literary lights as Anne Fadiman, David Guterson, Edward Hoagland, Natalie Angier, and Peter Matthiessen, this new collection presents selections bound together by their timelessness.
In the first volume of what will be an annual series, longtime science writer Quammen (The Song of the Dodo) assembles 20 cogent, informative and sometimes beautifully written essays, explanations and reports on (among other fields) AIDS, apes, archeologists and "Africa's wild dogs," all published in the last calendar year. Split about evenly between lab science and reports from wild places, the essays also vary greatly in length: some are substantial investigations, while others offer only a few lyrical pages. Natalie Angier (Woman: An Intimate Geography) leads off the book with a powerful salvo against evolutionary psychology, reprinted from the New York Times Magazine. Accomplished nature writer Ken Lamberton (Wilderness and Razor Wire) contributes a compact, well-observed piece about toads from an Arizona prison where he is an inmate. Anthropologist Craig Stanford shows how "ecotourism works" on a Ugandan reserve that succeeds in protecting its gorillas. Biology writer Judith Hooper (The Three-Pound Universe) describes the fascinating Amherst researchers who think that many human traits may come from infectious microorganisms. Part of Scribner's successful (and ever-lengthening) series of Best American titles, this entertaining and worthy volume directly competes with--and arrives one month later than--Ecco's equally polished Best American Science Writing, edited by James Gleick (Forecasts, July 3), which draws from many of the same sources (the New Yorker; the Sciences; the New York Review of Books). Not only do Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande appear in both volumes, but Sacks contributes the same piece (a memoir) to both. Readers most interested in DNA or particle physics may find Gleick's slightly more substantial. For readers devoted to animals and the environment, Quammen's volume will be the one to seek. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|