Since its inception in 1915, the Best American series has become the premier annual showcase for the country's finest short fiction and nonfiction. For each volume, a series editor reads hundreds of pieces from dozens of periodicals, then selects between fifty and a hundred outstanding works. That selection is pared down to the twenty or so very best pieces by a guest editor who is widely recognized as a leading writer in his or her field. This unique system has helped make the Best American series the most respected -- and most popular -- of its kind.
This second annual BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE AND NATURE WRITING volume, edited by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, scientist, and naturalist Edward O. Wilson, proves to be another "eclectic, provocative collection" (Entertainment Weekly). The volume highlights writing that ranges from the outer edges of scientific thinking -- Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, imagining "some better answers" to germline engineering -- to the inner life of a field biologist -- Jane Goodall writing on science as ecstasy. Read on for remarkable, timely writing from Gregg Easterbrook, Malcolm Gladwell, Jerome Groopman, Bernd Heinrich, Edward Hoagland, Barbara Kingsolver, Verlyn Klinkenborg, David Quammen, and many more in a volume that is both a science reader's dream and a nature lover's sustenance.
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From abstract reflections on the nature of mathematical thought to an all-too-concrete tale of teetering on the edge of an active volcano, The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2001 delivers exactly what it promises. Editor Edward O. Wilson knows good writing when he sees it, and with names like David Berlinski, Barbara Kingsolver, and Jane Goodall in the table of contents, it's hard to know where to begin reading. All but the most diligent of readers will find something new herein--some topic, theory, or point of view that hasn't yet reached the mainstream. Stem cells, robots, cloning, and habitat loss all become more real thanks to the writers' vivid descriptions and imaginative explanations. The collection is a treat even for those with little background in science, as it provides an accessible overview of issues important to all informed world citizens. If only all science and nature writing were this appealing. --Rob LightnerAbout the Author:
Edward O. Wilson is the author of two Pulitzer Prize-winning books, On Human Nature and The Ants, as well as the recipient of many fellowships, honors, and awards, including the 1977 National Medal of Science. His most recent book is Consilience.
Burkhard Bilger is a senior editor at DISCOVER magazine and a former editor for THE SCIENCES. He is completing a book of essays on the South for Scribner's,based on an article that appeared in Harper's. He has written many articles for The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, The New York Times, and other periodicals.
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