ISBN13:978-0618082957 ISBN10: 0618082956 This edition has also been released as: ISBN13: 978-0618082940 ISBN10: 0618082948
Summary: With The Best American Science & Nature Writing, Houghton Mifflin expands its stellar Best American series with a volume that honors our long & distinguished history of publishing the best writers in these fields. David Quammen, together with series editor Burkhard Bilger, has assembled a remarkable group of writers whose selections appeared in periodicals from National Geographic, Science, & The New Yorker to Puerto del Sol & Doubletake. Among the acclaimed writers represented in th
is volume are Richard Preston on ''The Demon in the Freezer,'' John McPhee bidding ''Farewell to the Nineteeth Century,'' Oliver Sacks remembering the ''Brilliant Light'' of his boyhood, & Wendell Berry going ''Back to the Land.'' Also including such literary lights as Anne Fadiman, David Guterson, Edward Hoagland, Natalie Angier, & Peter Matthiessen, this new collection presents selections bound together by their timelessness.
Summary: With The Best American Science & Nature Writing, Houghton Mifflin expands its stellar Best American series with a volume that honors our long & distinguished history of publishing the best writers in these fields. David Quammen, together with series editor Burkhard Bilger, has assembled a remarkable group of writers whose selections appeared in periodicals from National Geographic, Science, & The New Yorker to Puerto del Sol & Doubletake. Among the acclaimed writers represented in this volume are Richard Preston on ''The Demon in the Freezer,'' John McPhee bidding ''Farewell to the Nineteeth Century,'' Oliver Sacks remembering the ''Brilliant Light'' of his boyhood, & Wendell Berry going ''Back to the Land.'' Also including such literary lights as Anne Fadiman, David Guterson, Edward Hoagland, Natalie Angier, & Peter Matthiessen, this new collection presents selections bound together by their timelessness. ...show less
Edition/Copyright:00 Cover: Paperback Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Year Published: 2000 International: No
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David Quammen has received the National Magazine Award twice, for science essays and other work in Outside, for which he wrote a monthly column for fifteen years. Burkhard Bilger is a senior editor at Discover and has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's Magazine, and other periodicals.
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Foreword I've never been bird-watching, but after months of searching out these stories in the New York Public Library, of hiking up marble canyons and through stacks of compacted trees, I know how it must feel. One day you see a flash of beguiling color - a lovely opening paragraph, say, or a compelling thesis - only to lose it in a thicket of confusing prose. The next day you stare at something for a moment and dismiss it as ordinary, only to catch your breath when the sun strikes its wings. You might spend hours tracking a familiar singer - be it Andrea Barrett or E. O. Wilson - through card catalog and database, across the mountains of Lexis-Nexis and into the valley of ProQuest Direct, only to find that her or his song hasn't been heard all year. There is no lack of birds, of course, but most are sparrows and grackles, and you're after something rarer and not quite so noisy. The problem, first of all, is deciding what to seek and where to seek it. Great science and nature stories don't come precategorized in official lists. They don't cleave to a single, recognizable form. Their one common trait is longevity - no matter how timely or rich in specific detail, the pieces that follow should still be worth reading in five or ten years, if not longer - but they shouldn't sacrifice immediacy for timelessness, information for reflection. This book is devoted to the best American science and nature writing, David Quammen points out, not the best American science and nature essays. For better or worse, it comes with a wide- angle lens, and so dooms us to more than a few wild-goose chases. There are limits, granted. Does our definition of writing include reports in scientific journals? Poetry? Prose poems? No, no, and no, though some passages by Peter Matthiessen and Anne Fadiman are poetic enough. Does straight reporting count? Yes, we decided, so long as the style is literary and its purpose broader than news gathering. Book excerpts are fine, too, but only if they appeared previously in a magazine and are truly self-contained. (Natalie Angier's essay on evolutionary psychology, taken from Woman: An Intimate Geography, qualifies on both counts.) But novels, commencement addresses, cartoons, and plays - even a Tom Stoppard play on the second law of thermodynamics - fall outside our purview. That covers the basics, but it leaves the thorniest questions unanswered. How broadly do we define science, for instance? Until a year or two ago, a science magazine like Discover rarely published stories on medicine or technology, calling these fields applied science rather than science proper. But that standard seems more arbitrary every year. Quantum physicists have colonized Wall Street and microbiologists have defected to the biotech industry in droves; mathematicians are programming computer games and chemists are creating laundry detergents. Some of the best science stories cover research where you least expect it: in camel racing (''Lulu, Queen of the Camels''), for instance, or in Mormonism (''This Is Not the Place''). As you might think, such exotic birds rarely fly in flocks. You'll find a few in The Sciences, Scientific American, and American Scientist, but science writing, in the main, is still a didactic genre. The classic feature format, perfected by an earlier incarnation of Scientific American, starts with a few mildly diverting sentences and then gets down to business: page after page of explanation, relieved only by the occasional chart or graph. Most of the time that's all for the best - who wants storytelling when you're trying to understand particle physics? &md
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Contents Foreword ix Introduction: The Vine-Tree by David Quammen xiii Natalie Angier. Men, Women, Sex, and Darwin 1 from The New York Times Magazine Wendell Berry. Back to the Land 14 from The Amicus Journal Richard Conniff. Africa''s Wild Dogs 22 from National Geographic Paul De Palma. http://www.when_is_enough_enough?.com 34 from The American Scholar Helen Epstein. Something Happened 48 from The New York Review of Books Aanne Fadiman. Under Water 63 from The New Yorker Atul Gawande. The Cancer-Cluster Myth 67 from The New Yorker Brian Hayes. Clock of Ages 75 from The Sciences Edward Hoagland. That Sense of Falling 87 from Preservation Judith Hooper. A New Germ Theory 91 from The Atlantic Monthly Wendy Johnson. Heavy Grace 114 from Tricycle Ken Lamberton. The Wisdom of Toads 116 from Puerto del Sol Peter Matthiessen. The Island at the End of the Earth 125 from Audubon Cullen Murphy. Lulu, Queen of the Camels 135 from The Atlantic Monthly Richard Preston. The Demon in the Freezer 150 from The New Yorker Oliver Sacks. Brilliant Light 179 from The New Yorker Hampton Sdes. This Is Not the Place 209 from DoubleTake Craig b. Stanford. Gorilla Warfare 235 from The Sciences Gary Taubes. String Theorists Find a Rosetta Stone 245 from Science Contributors'' Notes 257 Other Notable Science and Nature Writing of 1999 261
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