Comprehensively mistitled but worth considering for its unusual angles, or at least as a replacement for the previous...

ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING!

A HISTORY OF EARTH, DINOSAURS, RULERS, ROBOTS AND OTHER THINGS TOO NUMEROUS TO MENTION

A view of human history from the Big Bang to experimental lab-grown meat.

With this volume, Lloyd seemingly revises and updates What on Earth Happened?...in Brief (2009) into a rushed survey vaguely positioned as “a gateway to all the knowledge in the world.” It’s a narrow gateway, for all its substantial heft. The author is more or less through with the cosmos, geology, and biology by Page 75 and on to modern humans—beginning with the invention of cooking, a “gigantic breakthrough” in human development. He goes on to a tally of civilizations that’s less Eurocentric than many, although he pays at best scant attention to the Indian subcontinent or to Indigenous North America, not to mention anyone’s art, music, or literature. Moreover, his narrative is so telescoped that World War I is finished off in three paragraphs, and he gets from the space race to SpaceX in two. Still, he does carry his story up to Black Lives Matter, concludes by pointing to absolutism and income inequality as issues to watch, and finishes with an optimistic note that we humans are “superadapters” in a world whose true paradigm is adaptation to change. Reinforcing the panoramic feel, many of the colorful photos, images, and, from Forshaw, diversely hued and clad figures from various eras that brighten nearly every page seem to be marching into or out of view along the edges.

Comprehensively mistitled but worth considering for its unusual angles, or at least as a replacement for the previous edition. (glossary and index not seen) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-999-8028-3-7

Page Count: 352

Publisher: What on Earth Books

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative.

HUMAN BODY

From the Information Graphics series

Stylized graphics rendered in saturated hues set this quick overview of body systems apart from the general run.

Arranged in tabbed and color-coded sections, the tour covers familiar ground but often from an unusual angle. The tally of human senses at the beginning, for instance, includes “proprioception” (physical multitasking), and ensuing chapters on the skeletal, circulatory and other systems are capped with a miscellany of body contents and products—from selected parasites and chemicals to farts and sweat. Likewise, descriptions of a dozen physical components of the “Brain Box” are followed by notes on more slippery mental functions like “Consciousness” and “Imagination.” The facts and observations gathered by Rogers are presented as labels or captions. They are interspersed on each spread with flat, eye-dazzling images designed by Grundy not with anatomical correctness in mind but to show processes or relationships at a glance. Thus, to show body parts most sensitive to touch, a silhouette figure sports an oversized hand and foot, plus Homer Simpson lips (though genitals are absent, which seems overcautious as an explicit section on reproduction follows a few pages later), and a stack of bathtubs illustrates the quantity of urine the average adult produces in an average lifetime (385 bathtubs’ worth). There is no backmatter.

Far from comprehensive but visually arresting and, at times, provocative. (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7123-5

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Big Picture/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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Skimps on early days and non-European ways but lays out some groundwork for budding investigators.

SCENE OF THE CRIME

TRACKING DOWN CRIMINALS WITH FORENSIC SCIENCE

From the Invention & Impact series , Vol. 3

How nabbing perps has gone from using “guesswork, gossip…and even ghosts” to DNA analysis.

Newquist stumbles out of the starting gate with a radically simplistic overview of the pre-modern development of laws and law enforcement (“much of the Western world was in chaos during a time known as the Middle Ages”) and misses or neglects to mention that the standard Henry Classification System for fingerprints was actually invented by Indian mathematicians. Once he gets to mid-18th-century London’s proto-police “Bow Street Runners,” however, he goes on to deliver a reasonably straightforward account of how tools and techniques from blood typing to ballistics became incorporated into today’s forensic science. Also, he balances nods to the positive contributions of prominent criminologists like Alphonse Bertillon and Frances Glessner Lee with a sharp critique of their colleague Francis Galton’s belief in eugenics. He takes closer looks at groundbreaking cases and how they were solved (or not), tucks in topical glossaries as well as directions for homespun activities like collecting fingerprints and analyzing blood spatters (the latter using, thankfully, paint or food coloring), and closes with looks at theoretical advances such as “molecular photofitting,” which involves leveraging DNA to create physical descriptions. In the mix of historical portraits, documents, and crime-scene photos, all of the human figures are White, though several on both sides of the law are women.

Skimps on early days and non-European ways but lays out some groundwork for budding investigators. (index, resource list) (Nonfiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-451-47646-3

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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