A potpourri of titles of possible interest, all in Kindle format, all cheap right now (I have no idea how long they will be cheap):
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life by Ed Yong is now on Kindle for $2.99. I’ve seen it on Kindle for $1.99, told you about it, and maybe you bought it then. But if you didn’t, …
Since we are on the topic of cheap books, here’s another one of interest, a book I read years ago and liked so I assume you will like too. Robert Massie produced a number of what I think are pretty good historical biographies, and one of them is Peter the Great: His Life and World. This book was published quite a while back, so maybe revisionism in history has made it less relevant, but I’ thinking not. Anyway, it is $2.99 in Kindle form, so for pretty cheap you can learn about the Russian Czar who collected and bred giants and dwarfs, made significant advances in dental torture, spent many a lazy Sunday afternoon personally carrying out beheading on behalf of the government, stole to the low countries to secretly learn how to make boats, and who brought Russia into the modern era.
Massie also wrote Nicholas and Alexandra: The Classic Account of the Fall of the Romanov Dynasty, Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman, Dreadnought: Britain, Germany, and the Coming of the Great War, and The Romanovs: the Final Chapter, so you can get your fill of British White Culture History but all very well written.
What you might not know is that Massie was originally drawn into this historical foray because his own son was born with hemophilia, as was Czar Nichols’s son. Massie and his significant other wrote about this in two books: Journey and A Song in the Night: A Memoir of Resilience. The son, Bob Massie, is a social justice and climate change activist of note, and at the moment is is seeking the Democratic nomination for Governor of Massachusetts. I have no idea what the gubinitorial field looks like in the Bay State right now, but Massie is pretty impressive. (Added: OK, I just looked at the field, and they are all impressive.)
Also, as long as I’ve got your attention, right NOW and maybe for a very limited time you can get any of these iOS apps for free.
Just in case you got an Amazon Gift Card for Christmas, here is a way to spend it VERY SLOWLY on cheap Kindle books, selected because of their potential interest to readers of this blog: Continue reading Cheap Books
I interrupt this blog post to bring you the following important announcement.
I just noticed that the Fire 7 Tablet with Alexa, 7″ Display, 8 GB, (with Special Offers) is currently available for the price of four cups of coffee at Starbucks, or, just shy of $30. A functional eReader wth benefits of a tablet. I also use them when I need a tablet for high risk use, like as a remote control device for a robot or something. I have no idea how long this will last.
The “special offer” part is the standard Kindle thing where you get an ad, almost always for a book or something, as the sleep screen on the device. Harmless, saves a few bucks, and who doesn’t like seeing an ad for a book?
And now we return to our regularly scheduled post about cheap books: Continue reading How to defeat your own clone, and other book deals
For just a day or two, you should be able to get each of these books in Kindle for for two or three books:
The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonegut.
The Color of Magic: A Novel of Discworld by Terry Prachett
A Crack in Creation: Gene Editing and the Unthinkable Power to Control Evolution by Jennifer Doudna and Sam Sternberg.
Upstream: Searching for Wild Salmon, from River to Table by Langdon Cook.
These are items currently, and possibly for only a short time, in Kindle format for two bucks.
This is a mixture of books that I either thought you would already know about and want, or maybe didn’t know about but should. Continue reading Some Book Deals Including Al Gore’s Truth
I remember reading Living Fossil: The Story of the Coelacanth by Thomson when it first came out. There actually were not a lot of science for the masses books back then, or should I say, the rate of production was low compared to recent decades. It is an interesting story.
In the winter of 1938, a fishing boat by chance dragged from the Indian Ocean a fish thought extinct for 70 million years. It was a coelacanth, which thrived concurrently with dinosaurs and pterodactyls—an animal of major importance to those who study the history of vertebrate life.
Living Fossil describes the life and habitat of the coelacanth and what scientists have learned about it during fifty years of research. It is an exciting and very human story, filled with ambitious and brilliant people, that reveals much about the practice of modern science.
Some day over a beer I can tell you my coelocanth-Stephen Jay Gould story. Good beer story, not a good writing story.
Anyway, at that link, the book is $1.99 in Kindle format.
Not strictly science but skepticism, so I thought it might be of interest, is Talking to the Dead: Kate and Maggie Fox and the Rise of Spiritualism by Barbara Weisberg.
A fascinating story of spirits and conjurors, skeptics and converts in the second half of nineteenth century America viewed through the lives of Kate and Maggie Fox, the sisters whose purported communication with the dead gave rise to the Spiritualism movement – and whose recanting forty years later is still shrouded in mystery.
In March of 1848, Kate and Maggie Fox – sisters aged 11 and 14 – anxiously reported to a neighbor that they had been hearing strange, unidentified sounds in their house. From a sequence of knocks and rattles translated by the young girls as a “voice from beyond,” the Modern Spiritualism movement was born.
Talking to the Dead follows the fascinating story of the two girls who were catapulted into an odd limelight after communicating with spirits that March night. Within a few years, tens of thousands of Americans were flocking to seances. An international movement followed. Yet thirty years after those first knocks, the sisters shocked the country by denying they had ever contacted spirits. Shortly after, the sisters once again changed their story and reaffirmed their belief in the spirit world. Weisberg traces not only the lives of the Fox sisters and their family (including their mysterious Svengali–like sister Leah) but also the social, religious, economic and political climates that provided the breeding ground for the movement. While this is a thorough, compelling overview of a potent time in US history, it is also an incredible ghost story.
An entertaining read – a story of spirits and conjurors, skeptics and converts – Talking to the Dead is full of emotion and surprise. Yet it will also provoke questions that were being asked in the 19th century, and are still being asked today – how do we know what we know, and how secure are we in our knowledge?
I’m not sure if this is a good find or not, but have a look. You will be out $1.99 for the Kindle version.
A range of choices, a range of interests.
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.
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).
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.
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.
This will be useful for any writer: The Field Guide to Sports Metaphors: A Compendium of Competitive Words and Idioms, cheap right now on Kindle, but I think I’m going to get a print copy as a gift this year for my sports-loving cousin that it is so hard to find gifts for.
There are many metaphors we can quickly identify from the realm of sports: covering all the bases (baseball), game plan (football), and par for the course (golf). But the English language is also peppered with the not-so-obvious influence of sports and games, such as go-to guy (basketball) and dead ringer (horse racing). Filled with pithy entries on each idiom, plus quotes showing how big talkers from President Obama to rapper Ice-T use them, this quirky little handbook from former minor league ballplayer and award-winning journalist Josh Chetwynd is sure to be a conversation starter at tailgates, cocktail parties, and in the boardroom.
Originally published as “The Restless Sea,” Mapping the Deep: The Extraordinary Story of Ocean Science by Robert Kunzig is…
A vivid, up-to-date tour of the Earth’s last frontier, a remote and mysterious realm that nonetheless lies close to the heart of even the most land-locked reader.
The sea covers seven-tenths of the Earth, but we have mapped only a small percentage of it. The sea contains millions of species of animals and plants, but we have identified only a few thousand of them. The sea controls our planet’s climate, but we do not really understand how. The sea is still the frontier, and yet it seems so familiar that we sometimes forget how little we know about it. Just as we are poised on the verge of exploiting the sea on an unprecedented scale—mining it, fertilizing it, fishing it out—this book reminds us of how much we have yet to learn. More than that, it chronicles the knowledge explosion that has transformed our view of the sea in just the past few decades, and made it a far more interesting and accessible place. From the Big Bang to that far-off future time, two billion years from now, when our planet will be a waterless rock; from the lush crowds of life at seafloor hot springs to the invisible, jewel-like plants that float at the sea surface; from the restless shifting of the tectonic plates to the majestic sweep of the ocean currents, Kunzig’s clear and lyrical prose transports us to the ends of the Earth.
I usually focus on science books, but suddenly there are some deals on key classics that should still appeal.
Recounting the final year of the Civil War, this classic volume by Bruce Catton won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for excellence in non-fiction.
In this final volume of the Army of the Potomac Trilogy, Catton, America’s foremost Civil War historian, takes the reader through the battles of the Wilderness, the Bloody Angle, Cold Harbot, the Crater, and on through the horrible months to one moment at Appomattox. Grant, Meade, Sheridan, and Lee vividly come to life in all their failings and triumphs.
Two science books cheap (Kindle version, two bucks):
Dr. Louann Brizendine, the founder of the first clinic in the country to study gender differences in brain, behavior, and hormones, turns her attention to the male brain, showing how, through every phase of life, the “male reality” is fundamentally different from the female one. Exploring the latest breakthroughs in male psychology and neurology with her trademark accessibility and candor, she reveals that the male brain:
-is a lean, mean, problem-solving machine. Faced with a personal problem, a man will use his analytical brain structures, not his emotional ones, to find a solution.
-thrives under competition, instinctively plays rough and is obsessed with rank and hierarchy.
-has an area for sexual pursuit that is 2.5 times larger than the female brain, consuming him with sexual fantasies about female body parts.
-experiences such a massive increase in testosterone at puberty that he perceive others’ faces to be more aggressive.
The Male Brain finally overturns the stereotypes. Impeccably researched and at the cutting edge of scientific knowledge, this is a book that every man, and especially every woman bedeviled by a man, will need to own.
I’m not endorsing this book, but if you are a student of sex differences you may want to have a look even if you hate it. But also see by the same author: The Female Brain
In Unlocking the Past, Martin Jones, a leading expert at the forefront of bioarchaeology—the discipline that gave Michael Crichton the premise for Jurassic Park—explains how this pioneering science is rewriting human history and unlocking stories of the past that could never have been told before. For the first time, the building blocks of ancient life—DNA, proteins, and fats that have long been trapped in fossils and earth and rock—have become widely accessible to science. Working at the cutting edge of genetic and other molecular technologies, researchers have been probing the remains of these ancient biomolecules in human skeletons, sediments and fossilized plants, dinosaur bones, and insects trapped in amber. Their amazing discoveries have influenced the archaeological debate at almost every level and continue to reshape our understanding of the past.
Devising a molecular clock from a certain area of DNA, scientists were able to determine that all humans descend from one common female ancestor, dubbed “Mitochondrial Eve,” who lived around 150,000 years ago. From molecules recovered from grinding stones and potsherds, they reconstructed ancient diets and posited when such practices as dairying and boiling water for cooking began. They have reconstituted the beer left in the burial chamber of pharaohs and know what the Iceman, the 5,000-year-old hunter found in the Alps in the early nineties, ate before his last journey. Conveying both the excitement of innovative research and the sometimes bruising rough-and-tumble of scientific debate, Jones has written a work of profound importance. Unlocking the Past is science at its most engaging.
In Tooth and Claw, Season 2 Episode 2 of Doctor Who 2.0, we see the formation of The Torchwood Institute and the banishing of The Doctor (and Rose) from the United Kingdom. Fat lot that does. Anyway, we also see Queen Victoria make mention of the multiple attempts at her assassination. I suppose it is understandable that some eight or nine (nine if you count the werewolf) attempts were made on her life. She was a women in charge of men in the most patriarchal culture ever (the White West generally, not just UK). They also said “Lock her up!” All the time, and there was a never ending investigation of her use of postage stamps, which by the way she freakin’ invented.
Anyway, I’ve been rewatching the new series, and saw that episode just today. I did not know about all those attempts on Her Majesty’s person, but by the way the fact was written into the script in DWS2E2, I suspected it was for real. So I looked it up. And, I cam across a book on it that was marked down to two bucks in Kindle form!
During Queen Victoria’s sixty-four years on the British throne, no fewer than eight attempts were made on her life. Seven teenage boys and one man attempted to kill her. Far from letting it inhibit her reign over the empire, Victoria used the notoriety of the attacks to her advantage. Regardless of the traitorous motives—delusions of grandeur, revenge, paranoia, petty grievances, or a preference of prison to the streets—they were a golden opportunity for the queen to revitalize the British crown, strengthen the monarchy, push through favored acts of legislation, and prove her pluck in the face of newfound public support. “It is worth being shot at,” she said, “to see how much one is loved.”
Recounting what Elizabeth Barrett marveled at as “this strange mania of queen-shooting,” and the punishments, unprecedented trials, and fate of these malcontents who were more pitiable than dangerous, Paul Thomas Murphy explores the realities of life in nineteenth-century England—for both the privileged and the impoverished. From these cloak-and-dagger plots of “regicide” to Victoria’s steadfast courage, Shooting Victoria is thrilling, insightful, and, at times, completely mad historical narrative.
For two bucks, we also have Thinking Machines: The Quest for Artificial Intelligence–and Where It’s Taking Us Next by Luke Dormehl.
When most of us think about Artificial Intelligence, our minds go straight to cyborgs, robots, and sci-fi thrillers where machines take over the world. But the truth is that Artificial Intelligence is already among us. It exists in our smartphones, fitness trackers, and refrigerators that tell us when the milk will expire. In some ways, the future people dreamed of at the World’s Fair in the 1960s is already here. We’re teaching our machines how to think like humans, and they’re learning at an incredible rate.
In Thinking Machines, technology journalist Luke Dormehl takes you through the history of AI and how it makes up the foundations of the machines that think for us today. Furthermore, Dormehl speculates on the incredible–and possibly terrifying–future that’s much closer than many would imagine. This remarkable book will invite you to marvel at what now seems commonplace and to dream about a future in which the scope of humanity may need to broaden itself to include intelligent machines.
Bill Nye’s Everything All at Once: How to unleash your inner nerd, tap into radical curiosity, and solve any problem on Kindle is available for 2.99.
Everyone has an inner nerd just waiting to be awakened by the right passion. In Everything All at Once, Bill Nye will help you find yours. With his call to arms, he wants you to examine every detail of the most difficult problems that look unsolvable–that is, until you find the solution. Bill shows you how to develop critical thinking skills and create change, using his “everything all at once” approach that leaves no stone unturned.
Whether addressing climate change, the future of our society as a whole, or personal success, or stripping away the mystery of fire walking, there are certain strategies that get results: looking at the world with relentless curiosity, being driven by a desire for a better future, and being willing to take the actions needed to make change happen. He shares how he came to create this approach–starting with his Boy Scout training (it turns out that a practical understanding of science and engineering is immensely helpful in a capsizing canoe) and moving through the lessons he learned as a full-time engineer at Boeing, a stand-up comedian, CEO of The Planetary Society, and, of course, as Bill Nye The Science Guy.
This is the story of how Bill Nye became Bill Nye and how he became a champion of change and an advocate of science. It’s how he became The Science Guy. Bill teaches us that we have the power to make real change. Join him in dare we say it changing the world.
I’m not endorsing the following book because I don’t know much about it, and I’m not that big on behavioral economics or listening to them. Too risky. But, I thought some of you might want to know because it is cheap. Thus, being misinformed is not as bad if you pay less for it!
But seriously, this might be a great book, I really don’t know. Have a look: The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves.
I’ve always been interested in canals, and I’m actually one of the few archaeologists in North America who has worked on them. They tend to contain either very little else but water, or a lot of trash (depending on if they are in use or not) and always contain very interesting fish.
Anyway, Wedding of the Waters: The Erie Canal and the Making of a Great Nation is about the builiding of the Erie Canal and the meaaning of that event. I’m looking forward to reading this, and it is only $1.99!
Some potentially interesting science related books cheap now in Kindle format:
We know it simply as “the pill,” yet its genesis was anything but simple. Jonathan Eig’s masterful narrative revolves around four principal characters: the fiery feminist Margaret Sanger, who was a champion of birth control in her campaign for the rights of women but neglected her own children in pursuit of free love; the beautiful Katharine McCormick, who owed her fortune to her wealthy husband, the son of the founder of International Harvester and a schizophrenic; the visionary scientist Gregory Pincus, who was dismissed by Harvard in the 1930s as a result of his experimentation with in vitro fertilization but who, after he was approached by Sanger and McCormick, grew obsessed with the idea of inventing a drug that could stop ovulation; and the telegenic John Rock, a Catholic doctor from Boston who battled his own church to become an enormously effective advocate in the effort to win public approval for the drug that would be marketed by Searle as Enovid.
Spanning the years from Sanger’s heady Greenwich Village days in the early twentieth century to trial tests in Puerto Rico in the 1950s to the cusp of the sexual revolution in the 1960s, this is a grand story of radical feminist politics, scientific ingenuity, establishment opposition, and, ultimately, a sea change in social attitudes. Brilliantly researched and briskly written, The Birth of the Pill is gripping social, cultural, and scientific history.
Weaponized Lies: How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era by Daniel J. Levitin
Investigating numerical misinformation, Daniel Levitin shows how mishandled statistics and graphs can give a grossly distorted perspective and lead us to terrible decisions. Wordy arguments on the other hand can easily be persuasive as they drift away from the facts in an appealing yet misguided way. The steps we can take to better evaluate news, advertisements, and reports are clearly detailed. Ultimately, Levitin turns to what underlies our ability to determine if something is true or false: the scientific method. He grapples with the limits of what we can and cannot know. Case studies are offered to demonstrate the applications of logical thinking to quite varied settings, spanning courtroom testimony, medical decision making, magic, modern physics, and conspiracy theories.
This urgently needed book enables us to avoid the extremes of passive gullibility and cynical rejection. As Levitin attests: Truth matters. A post-truth era is an era of willful irrationality, reversing all the great advances humankind has made. Euphemisms like “fringe theories,” “extreme views,” “alt truth,” and even “fake news” can literally be dangerous. Let’s call lies what they are and catch those making them in the act.
Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi, Stefanie Posavec, Maria Popova.
Equal parts mail art, data visualization, and affectionate correspondence, Dear Data celebrates “the infinitesimal, incomplete, imperfect, yet exquisitely human details of life,” in the words of Maria Popova (Brain Pickings), who introduces this charming and graphically powerful book. For one year, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, mapped the particulars of their daily lives as a series of hand-drawn postcards they exchanged via mail weekly—small portraits as full of emotion as they are data, both mundane and magical. Dear Data reproduces in pinpoint detail the full year’s set of cards, front and back, providing a remarkable portrait of two artists connected by their attention to the details of their lives—including complaints, distractions, phone addictions, physical contact, and desires. These details illuminate the lives of two remarkable young women and also inspire us to map our own lives, including specific suggestions on what data to draw and how. A captivating and unique book for designers, artists, correspondents, friends, and lovers everywhere.
These books are one or two books in kindle form right now, get ’em while they’re still cheap: