The Best American Science Writing 2011

Overview

Edited by Rebecca Skloot, award-winning science writer and New York Times bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and her father, Floyd Skloot, an award-winning poet and writer, and past contributor to the series, The Best American Science Writing 2011 collects into one volume the most crucial, thought-provoking, and engaging science writing of the year. Culled from a wide variety of publications, these selections of outstanding journalism cover the full spectrum of scientific inquiry, ...

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Overview

Edited by Rebecca Skloot, award-winning science writer and New York Times bestselling author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, and her father, Floyd Skloot, an award-winning poet and writer, and past contributor to the series, The Best American Science Writing 2011 collects into one volume the most crucial, thought-provoking, and engaging science writing of the year. Culled from a wide variety of publications, these selections of outstanding journalism cover the full spectrum of scientific inquiry, providing a comprehensive overview of the most compelling, relevant, and exciting developments in the world of science. Provocative and engaging, The Best American Science Writing 2011 reveals just how far science has brought us—and where it is headed next.

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Editorial Reviews

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Fortune calls the Best American Science Writing series as "contemporary science's best answers to... eternal riddles." This year's anthology promises to be one of the most noteworthy yet. To preside over the issue, general editor Jesse Cohen has invited award-winning science author Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and her father, memoirist, nonfiction writer, and poet Floyd Skloot (In the Shadow of Memory). Illuminating nightstand reading.

Publishers Weekly
As guest editors, father (Cream of Kohlrabi) and daughter (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) Skloot adhered to a wide definition of "science" when choosing these 21 previously published pieces. To that end, their selections focus not only on the verity of science, but also on the emotions it elicits: Katy Butler chronicles the role of pacemakers in extending the life of late-stage dementia patients in the gut-wrenching "What Broke My Father's Heart;" John Colapinto profiles a woman fighting to find a cure for the rare form of muscular dystrophy that claimed her two sons in the equally aching "Mother Courage;" and Michael S. Rosenwald forces readers to ask, "Am I a hoarder?" Other stories explore the proliferation of the Conficker computer worm and why an overwhelming number of television weather personalities reject global warming. An occasional dud sneaks in, such as John Brenkus' choppy piece about the science of hitting home runs, and because these articles were written in 2010, they seem less urgent. However, by drawing from a wide variety of sources, mainstream (The New York Times, Playboy, Vanity Fair) and niche (Discover, Columbia Journalism Review, and science blogs), the anthology both provokes and inspires. (Sept.)
San Francisco Book Review
“The perfect gateway to the wider world of modern science in all its variety and wonder. The writing is engaging and perfectly suited to readers of any interest level.... The Best American Science Writing 2011 provides a brilliantly brief glimpse into that fascinating world.”
Library Journal
The latest entry in this 12-year-old series is another interesting read. Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks) and her father, Floyd Skloot (The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writer's Life), explain in the introduction that they wanted to include variety in this volume—not only in subject matter but also in style and approach. The topics are varied and sometimes surprising, including estrogen-replacement, fermented foods, computer worms, the medical ethics of cardiac treatment, and the emulation of the human mind by computers. Contributing to the diversity of the volume, these essays come from many different sources but favor magazines not known primarily for their science writing, such as The New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly. As with any anthology, a few selections will appeal to some readers more than others. Still, it remains a strong collection overall. Most of the essays are very accessible and put particular emphasis on the human-interest aspect of the subject. There appears to be no duplication of content with the similar series title The Best American Science & Nature Writing 2011. VERDICT Recommended for general readers with an interest in current developments in science, medicine, or the environment.—Carla H. Lee, Univ. of Virginia Lib., Charlottesville
Kirkus Reviews

A diverse collection of 20 articles reprinted from the popular press that tackle a wide range of scientific issues of the day, from health and aging to computer viruses and terrorism.

The list of impressive guest editors over the years—including Oliver Sacks, James Gleick, Atul Gawande and Jerome Groopman—is joined this year by a father and daughter. Popular Science contributing editor Rebecca Skloot (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, 2010, etc.) teams with her father Floyd, a past contributor to the series (The Wink of the Zenith: The Shaping of a Writers Life, 2008, etc.). In "Mother Courage," New Yorker staff writer John Colapinto chronicles the inspiring 20-year battle by Pat Furlong—first to get a medical diagnosis and treatment for her two sons, both stricken with Duchenne, a rare, fatal form of muscular dystrophy, and then to advocate for the funding of research to find a cure. She eventually succeeded in winning passage of the Muscular Dystrophy CARE Act in 2001. In another piece, Charles Homans looks at the disturbing phenomenon of a majority of TV weatherman—trained in meteorology but not in climate science—who have assumed the mantle of experts on climate change and dispute the truth of global warming. Mother Jones environmental correspondent Julia Whitty examines the potential ecological consequences of the 2010 Gulf oil spill, and Cynthia Gorney provides a highly personal account of the options facing women suffering severe menopausal symptoms who weigh the benefits of using an estrogen patch against the heightened risks of cancers and stroke. Other contributors include John Brenkus, Burkhard Bilger, Charles Siebert and Mark Bowden.

Literate, nontechnical popular science.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062091246
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/27/2011
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 952,852
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.04 (h) x 0.84 (d)

Meet the Author

Rebecca Skloot

Rebecca Skloot is an award-winning science writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine and elsewhere. Her debut book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, became an instant New York Times bestseller. It was chosen as a best book of 2010 by more than sixty major media outlets, and is being adapted into an HBO film by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball.

Floyd Skloot is a writer of creative nonfiction, poetry, and fiction. He has received three Pushcart Prizes and a PEN USA Literary Award, among other honors. He is the author of seventeen books, and his work has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, and elsewhere. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife, Beverly Hallberg.

Jesse Cohen is a writer and freelance editor. He lives in New York City.

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