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December 17, 2004

Holiday books....

Over at Washington Monthly Kevin Drum recently had a series of "Holiday Books" for political junkies. I emailed TangoMan ("our man at WM" so to speak) and asked him if Drum had posted any science book recommendations, but it seems like it was a political fest. I guess I understand why it had to be that way, WM being a political blog and all, but a lot of times I think that political books that are commentaries on the contemporary condition are out of date before they hit the newsstands. So, I'm calling out GNXP posters for book recs (just update my post). A few stipulations: you max out at three, one of them has to be science, and they are under 500 pages and less than $30 either new or used on Amazon or Abebooks (this eliminates a lot of textbooks that people should read, but this for the type of thing you should be able to read over a week long vacation with the in-laws with no access to Mathematica). My offerings below....

Addendum: I spoke too soon! Drum's most recent post suggests a book about twins! Also, his old list offers some evo psych books. Not a big surprise given some of his posts....

Razib says read:

The Imitation Factor by Lee Alan Dugatkin is a quick view into the modern state of ethology. Related post.

The Nurture Assumption is very germane in terms of one's view of pubic policy, so it is a psychology book that has political implications. Related post.

The Human Web is a short entertaining book from John McNeill, an old school historian that focuses on big issues, rather than the 2 days your shoelaces spent being in hell in 7th grade when you did long distance running in gym class. Related post.

TangoMan says:

To add a little non-biological flavor to your reading I draw from my other interests to help you overcome your planetary chauvinism. What's that you say? Well, ask yourself if a planetary surface is really the right place for an expanding technological civilization? I don't think it is.

The High Frontier This is the bible and lays out the whole concept of space habitats from the Man himself, Princeton physicist Gerard K. O'Neill.

Mining the Sky A book chock full of technical data on the wealth that awaits us in the asteroids.

The Lunar Base Handbook A damn handy book to have and explores facets involved in lunar base construction. Ever wanted to know how to make concrete in a vacuum. This book has the answers.

Jason Malloy says:

The Heretic in Darwin's Court: The Life of Alfred Russel Wallace. What if Michael Behe would have discovered the secret of altruism rather than William Hamilton? This kind of counter-intuitive brain-bender (almost) already happened. Alfred Russel Wallace came up with the theory of natural selection nearly simultaneously to Charles Darwin, but his curious dabblings and obsessions in religious mysticism, junk science, and eventually the rejection of his own theory and embrace of good old fashioned Creationism, make a striking contrast to the model scientism, consistency, and cool-headed humanist rationalism of Darwin. Good writing on a compelling and frustrating figure.

The Ancestor's Tale. As usual Dawkins succeeds as both expositer and entertainer. The Chaucer narrative device highlights the fact that no one truly holds the legacy of or understands evolution better than the English (sorry fellow Americans).

Human. At exactly $30 and 500 pages I'm able to slip this one in. Page after page of all things human: history, biology, psychology, and ethnology - a shameless celebration of evolutionary navel gazing, HB-D and HB-U. Its predecessor, Animal from a couple of years back is also a book I still enjoy very much.

Posted by razib at 05:11 PM