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Astrobiology: A Very Short Introduction

by David C. Catling

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. 142 pages.

“David Catling’s book provides a concise introduction to the field, aimed at a science-literate audience,” according to reviewer David Morrison. “It has no color illustrations, is small enough to fit in your pocket, and is less than 150 pages long … But don’t be fooled by its appearance: the type is small and the information content is large.” Praising the writing as “clear, compact, and elegant,” he adds that the book “is not an easy read … It is a book to be savored, not skimmed.”

Charles R Knight: The Artist Who Saw Through Time

by Richard Milner

New York: Abrams, 2012. 180 pages.

“Even as new discoveries about dinosaurs, prehistoric mammals, and other creatures make some of Knight’s illustrations seem dated, his paintings still carry the reflection of someone who joyfully reveled in the story of life,” writes reviewer Brian Switek. “Milner’s bound galley is a fitting sampling of Knight’s life and work, itself a time capsule that records scenes of history, science, and art from some of the most epochal moments of American paleontology.”

Evolution, Games, and God: The Principle of Cooperation

edited by Martin A Nowak and Sarah Coakley

Cambridge (MA): Harvard University Press, 2013. 400 pages.

Nowak and Coakley’s book should have been entitled Economics, Games, and Christianity: Perspectives on Altruism, reviewer Douglas Allchin suggests, as the contributions “explore the human and theological meaning of … models of cooperation” researched by Nowak with little reference to evolution. While there is much of interest in the book, “[t]he editors’ bold claim that the mathematical models of cooperation foster a ‘revolution in evolutionary thinking’ … able even to transform theological arguments, seems irresponsibly overstated.”

Reality Check: How Science Deniers Threaten our Future

by Donald R. Prothero

Bloomington (IN): Indiana University Press, 2013. 369 pages.

Reality Check

Reality Check sets out to address … those who deny key scientific realities,” reviewer David Dobson writes. “Prothero devotes much of his text to discussing both global warming and creationism, but along the way, he also addresses anti-vaccination activists, AIDS deniers, astrologers, homeopaths, chiropractors, peak oil scoffs, and cornucopians.” Dobson faults Prothero somewhat for political partisanship, noting “it might be hard for any Republican to make it through this book and hear its message,” but overall recommends it as “an entertaining, thought-provoking, and informative read.”

Science and Religion: 5 Questions

edited by Gregg D. Caruso

Copenhagen, Denmark: Automatic Press, 2014. 278 pages.

The same five questions about science and religion were posed to thirty-three scholars, and Science and Religion consists of their answers. Reviewer David A Rintoul was overall unimpressed with the questions and with the answers, remarking, “The basic problem with the format of the book is that it allows individual respondents to say things that go unrebutted by the other respondents. … The lack of dialogue that is a necessity of this format makes reading many of these chapters quite frustrating.”

Understanding Galápagos: What You’ll See and What It Means

by Randy Moore and Sehoya Cotner

New York: McGraw-Hill, 2014. 425 pages.

Reviewer Kenneth Saladin writes, “for true insight and delightful reading while cruising from one island to the next, you can’t do better than Moore and Cotner. This is clearly the most biologically intelligent guidebook to the Galápagos for those who want more than just a species description, location, and a bit of behavior and natural history of each species. … its evolutionary insightfulness and up-to-date information amply repay the investment.”