shamelessly stolen from the EvolPsych mailing list...
Hot Summer Science Books
It's Evolution, Stupid! by Robert Dawkin
The master of popular accounts of evolution returns with another accessible and highly informative tome. This is the follow-up to his best-selling books The Selfish Bastard, The Deaf Hatmaker, and Mounting Miss Impossible. This time around his trademark clarity of prose is marred by a rather confrontational tone and a sense that he is losing patience with his critics. Chapter titles include "God Is Dead and I Killed Him" and "I'm Not Even Going to Waste My Time Discussing That Charlatan Simon Kay Gelid." After reiterating his stance as a strict neo-Darwinist in the chapter entitled "Why Have a Son When You Could Have Eight Nephews?" Dawkin outlines the thesis that the tendency to disagree with him is an inherited trait that decreases inclusive fitness. As ever, his gift for the apt comparison will make you see the natural world in a new light. I particularly enjoyed his metaphor of DNA repair enzymes as a computer spell check, with mutagens as the Microsoft Office Assistant. Recommended.
Guns, Steel . . . and Yams! by Susan Chitterling
Chitterling is best known as a respected yam botanist, but in this book she takes us on a brisk and often surprising tour of the last ten thousand years of human history. She argues that the Pyramids functioned chiefly as immense yam granaries; that the defeat of the Aztec and Mayan civilizations by the Conquistadors came down to an unlucky series of failures in the yam harvest; and that one of the key factors in the Industrial Revolution was the absence of significant levels of yam farming in nineteenth century Britain. Bound to be controversial.