29 July 2012
Great Summer Reading- Two Brilliant Books
Posted by Dan Satterfield
A couple of books to recommend that I have enjoyed immensely. One has nothing to do with science, other than the fact that Abraham Lincoln’s opinion of weather forecasters was ( and deservedly so at the time) rather low.
Science First: The Magic of Reality
Richard Dawkins has produced a fantastically illustrated book for young adults called the Magic of Reality. I say young adults, but I certainly enjoyed it. It’s a must read for those who have little or no science background, because it does the one thing that any good popular science book should do: explain HOW we know, WHAT we know.
This book has already won several book prizes and will undoubtedly win many more. Any child over 10 (and most members of Congress) will get a lot out of this book, and to say anything other than it is simply brilliant would be an understatement. The book isn’t an in-depth treatment of any subject, but instead a basic primer of how scientific method works and how it enables us to discover things about the Universe, while separating fact and fiction.
Note: Unlike some books, this book is BEST experienced on an iPad.
Team of Rivals
I am a history buff, but not per say a Civil War history buff above other periods, but Team of Rivals may change that. After reading Doris Kearns-Goodwin’s masterpiece on Lincoln and his cabinet, I realize just what an amazing time that era was. More-so, my respect for the political genius of Abraham Lincoln has grown by several orders of magnitude.
It was 900 plus pages on my iPad, but I devoured this page turner (and so has everyone else I know that has read it). Buy it, or find it at the library ASAP. It should be required reading in any course about the American Civil War. If all you know of Lincoln (and his cabinet) is from college text-books, and the Ken Burn’s PBS series, prepare to be amazed. For those whose knowledge of the subject is primarily from the conspiracy based junk history programs prevalent on cable networks (like the History Channel), the truth is much more entertaining!
I would dearly love to have an autographed copy of this book. It too, is nothing less than a brilliant work.
No interest in civil war history, but I do like really good nonfiction books regardless of topic.. It certainly sounds like this is a great one. And I now have an iPad…..
I did not have a high interest in it either Dan, but this book is an exceptional history of Abraham Lincoln and his times. I saw many parallels between then and now and politics at the highest levels seems to have changed little. With the telegraph, news traveled very fast. You could get a fast train from Buffalo to Chicago and newspapers were king! That era was in many respects not much different than the america of the 1960’s.
His choices for cabinet almost to oa one thought he was in over his head but within a year most realised that he was likely the only man in America who could hold his party and the country together. His cabinet came to love him and he would have been without doubt seen as one of the greatest presidents even if he had lived to complete his term.
Hey Dan! I’ve started visiting your blog since I found your Facebook page and I’m very proud to see you promoting science and critical thinking in your blog and on your Facebook page! I lived in Pell City when you worked in Birmingham and then at about the same time you moved to Huntsville, I moved to Arab… and I never once realized that your heroes were pretty much my heroes. I haven’t met many other people in Alabama that cared too much for Feynman or Sagan. I thought EVERYONE in Alabama were climate change deniers… even some of the more reasonable people. I’m a little sad that I didn’t realize this until you moved! Oh well.. just thought I would leave a comment to let you know that what you do is very appreciated.. even here in Alabama.
Thanks very much! Unfortunately education in most of the Deep South is severely undervalued, and education levels (with some notable exceptions) are now at third world levels. Not sure what the answer is.
The opinons on climate change among most there are based on the fact that the truth of it is incompatible with their political world view and not of course on the scientific facts.