A range of choices, a range of interests.
The Science of Liberty: Democracy, Reason, and the Laws of Nature
In The Science of Liberty, award-winning author Timothy Ferris—called “the best popular science writer in the English language today” by the Christian Science Monitor and “the best science writer of his generation” by the Washington Post—makes a passionate case for science as the inspiration behind the rise of liberalism and democracy. In the grand tradition of such luminaries of the field as Bill Bryson, Richard Dawkins, and Oliver Sacks—as well as his own The Whole Shebang and Coming of Age in the Milky Way—Ferris has written a brilliant chronicle of how science sparked the spread of liberal democracy and transformed today’s world.
Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America’s Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever
This is the incredible account of a flood of near-Biblical proportions in early twentieth-century America—its destruction, its heroes, its victims, and how it shaped natural-disaster policies in the United States for the next hundred years.
The storm began March 23, 1913, with a series of tornadoes that killed 150 people and injured 400. Then the freezing rains started and the flooding began. It continued for days. Some people drowned in their attics, others on the roads when they tried to flee. It was the nation’s most widespread flood ever—more than 700 people died, hundreds of thousands of houses and buildings were destroyed, and millions were left homeless. The destruction extended far beyond the Ohio Valley to Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, New York, New Jersey, and Vermont—fourteen states in all, and every major and minor river east of the Mississippi.
In the aftermath, flaws in America’s natural disaster response system were exposed, much as they would be nearly a century later in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. People demanded change. Laws were passed, and dams were built. Teams of experts vowed to develop flood control techniques for the region and stop flooding for good. So far, those efforts have succeeded—it is estimated that in the Miami Valley alone, nearly two thousand floods have been prevented, and the same methods have been used as a model for flood control nationwide and around the world.
This suspenseful historical tale of a dramatic yet little-remembered disaster “weaves tragic and heroic stories of people in the various affected states into an almost hour-by-hour account of the deadly storm” (Booklist).
The Complete Guide to Edible Wild Plants
Anyone who has spent serious time outdoors knows that in survival situations, wild plants are often the only sustenance available. The proper identification of these plants can mean the difference between survival and death. This book describes habitat and distribution, physical characteristics, and edible parts of wild plants—the key elements of identification. Hugely important to the book are its color photos. There are over one hundred of them, further simplifying the identification of poisonous and edible plants. No serious outdoors person should ever hit the trail without this book and the knowledge contained within it.
Seeing Further: The Story of Science and the Royal Society
In Seeing Further, New York Times bestseller Bill Bryson takes readers on a guided tour through the great discoveries, feuds, and personalities of modern science. Already a major bestseller in the UK, Seeing Further tells the fascinating story of science and the Royal Society with Bill Bryson’s trademark wit and intelligence, and contributions from a host of well known scientists and science fiction writers, including Richard Dawkins, Neal Stephenson, James Gleick, and Margret Atwood. It is a delightful literary treat from the acclaimed author who previous explored the current state of scientific knowledge in his phenomenally popular book, A Short History of Nearly Everything.