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The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010.

Freeman Dyson and Tim Folger, editors. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2010. New York: Mariner, 2010.

In his Introduction to this book (one of a yearly series begun in 2010 of the best American science and nature writing), Freeman Dyson, a physicist and professor emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, bemoans the decreasing attention given to science writing in American periodicals. However, as the 28 articles included in this anthology show, the quality is still there.

This year's volume is divided into 6 parts. Part 1, Visions of Space, contains 5 articles on astronomy and the space program. Writers represented in this section include the novelist Tom Wolfe and Nobel laureate Steven Weinberg. Part 2 contains 3 articles on neuroscience by science journalists. Part 3, Natural Beauty, showcases 7 commentaries about nature (I particularly enjoyed reading "The Flight of the Kuaka" by Don Stap, a piece Dyson says goes "beyond science and poetry"). Parts 4-6, more than half the book, are devoted to critiques on the environment: Part 4 is subtitled Gloom and Doom, Part 5 has the subtitle Small Blessings, and Part 6 ends on a more positive note with Big Blessings.

For readers hungry for additional topnotch science and nature writing, Series Editor Tim Folger has appended a list of other notable 2010 science and nature articles to the book. There are also short bios of each writer, which is useful if you come across new authors and want to find other things they've written.

It seemed to me that the subject matter in this year's volume was more limited than in previous years, but that may have been because the articles were arranged by theme rather than by the author's last name. All the same, there's a wide diversity of captivating and compelling material in this collection, which I recommend highly for your perusal.

Martin H. Levinson, PhD

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Author:Levinson, Martin H.
Publication:ETC.: A Review of General Semantics
Article Type:Book review
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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