Solid science combined with a pleasing writing style make for a winning book.

THE ARBORNAUT

A LIFE DISCOVERING THE EIGHTH CONTINENT IN THE TREES ABOVE US

A riveting memoir from “Canopy Meg,” a pioneer in treetop science.

Lowman, biologist and director of the TREE Foundation, points out that a scientist learning about a tree by studying its trunk makes as much sense as a doctor examining a patient by examining the big toe. But that’s how it was done for centuries. Just as scuba gear inspired more advanced ocean research during the 1950s, ropes and harnesses opened up treetops in the 1980s. Calling forest canopies the eighth continent is no exaggeration. “Upward of half of all terrestrial creatures,” writes Lowman, “live about one hundred feet or more above our heads….Across more than sixty thousand species of trees, nearly every one hosts unique communities.” The author excelled in a discipline in which she was often the only woman and succeeded despite encounters with discouragement and harassment. Obtaining an undergraduate degree in the U.S., a masters in Scotland, and a doctorate in Australia, Lowman plunged into field research, teaching, speaking, and becoming the “mother of canopy research.” Her obsession became foliage—not a gripping subject except in her hands. Part of a complex architecture, leaves on a single tree differ dramatically. Larger and darker lower leaves efficiently use tiny amounts of light that filter down. Top foliage is smaller, thicker, and bright green: a high-powered chlorophyll factory suited to hot, sunny conditions. Eventually, Lowman turned her attention to the universe of largely unknown insects that feed off the leaves. While some publications cite about 5% to 8% annual defoliation, the author discovered that canopies routinely suffer up to 25% damage. Lowman ends her chronological account halfway through, devoting the remainder to lively descriptions of her discoveries, educational activities, and conservation advocacy. With more than 15 billion trees cut down each year and climate change accelerating insect losses, she urges advocates of protecting endangered animals to pay more attention to the destruction of the forests they inhabit.

Solid science combined with a pleasing writing style make for a winning book.

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-374-16269-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

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GREENLIGHTS

All right, all right, all right: The affable, laconic actor delivers a combination of memoir and self-help book.

“This is an approach book,” writes McConaughey, adding that it contains “philosophies that can be objectively understood, and if you choose, subjectively adopted, by either changing your reality, or changing how you see it. This is a playbook, based on adventures in my life.” Some of those philosophies come in the form of apothegms: “When you can design your own weather, blow in the breeze”; “Simplify, focus, conserve to liberate.” Others come in the form of sometimes rambling stories that never take the shortest route from point A to point B, as when he recounts a dream-spurred, challenging visit to the Malian musician Ali Farka Touré, who offered a significant lesson in how disagreement can be expressed politely and without rancor. Fans of McConaughey will enjoy his memories—which line up squarely with other accounts in Melissa Maerz’s recent oral history, Alright, Alright, Alright—of his debut in Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused, to which he contributed not just that signature phrase, but also a kind of too-cool-for-school hipness that dissolves a bit upon realizing that he’s an older guy on the prowl for teenage girls. McConaughey’s prep to settle into the role of Wooderson involved inhabiting the mind of a dude who digs cars, rock ’n’ roll, and “chicks,” and he ran with it, reminding readers that the film originally had only three scripted scenes for his character. The lesson: “Do one thing well, then another. Once, then once more.” It’s clear that the author is a thoughtful man, even an intellectual of sorts, though without the earnestness of Ethan Hawke or James Franco. Though some of the sentiments are greeting card–ish, this book is entertaining and full of good lessons.

A conversational, pleasurable look into McConaughey’s life and thought.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-13913-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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