A highly readable, eloquent reminder of the dire importance of our forests.



Why saving the world’s remaining megaforests is crucial to saving the planet.

In this captivating book, Reid and Lovejoy take readers on a journey through the five remaining megaforests—New Guinea, the Congo, the Amazon, the North American boreal zone, and the taiga—vividly describing each region’s native plants and animals as well as their diverse Indigenous populations and cultures. “Megaforests hold staggering human diversity,” write the authors. “Over a quarter of Earth’s languages are spoken in the world’s largest woodlands.” Throughout, the authors make consistently compelling arguments about the importance of saving these regions—not just for the flora and fauna, but for the human denizens. “Over 10 percent of intact forest landscapes were fragmented or lost between 2000 and 2016,” they write. Saving intact forests is vital to combatting rising global temperatures and “once-in-a-century” fires, droughts, floods, and storms that now occur frequently. Reid and Lovejoy point out that one of the primary benefits of megaforests is their ability to remove massive amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The plants in these regions are also used by Native peoples for household items, clothing, and medicine. In order for megaforest conservation to work, limiting roads is the most important factor, as the majority of deforestation occurs near roads and navigable waterways. In their call to action, the authors offer feasible methods to make a difference, refreshingly noting that “yes, our individual choices matter.” Sending a message from the inhabitants of the regions, the authors also invite readers to “Go see a big forest! The people who live there want you to experience, directly and with all your senses, what we’ve done our best to hint at between these covers.” Although the idea of saving the forests is hardly new, the language and details the authors use (as well as the included images) to describe these regions lead to an especially powerful message.

A highly readable, eloquent reminder of the dire importance of our forests.

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-324-00603-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.


The tech mogul recounts the health care–related dimensions of his foundation in what amounts to a long policy paper.

“Outbreaks are inevitable, but pandemics are optional.” Thus states the epidemiologist Larry Brilliant, a Gates adviser, who hits on a critically important point: Disease is a fact of nature, but a pandemic is a political creation of a kind. Therefore, there are political as well as medical solutions that can enlist governments as well as scientists to contain outbreaks and make sure they don’t explode into global disasters. One critical element, Gates writes, is to alleviate the gap between high- and low-income countries, the latter of which suffer disproportionately from outbreaks. Another is to convince governments to ramp up production of vaccines that are “universal”—i.e., applicable to an existing range of disease agents, especially respiratory pathogens such as coronaviruses and flus—to prepare the world’s populations for the inevitable. “Doing the right thing early pays huge dividends later,” writes Gates. Even though doing the right thing is often expensive, the author urges that it’s a wise investment and one that has never been attempted—e.g., developing a “global corps” of scientists and aid workers “whose job is to wake up every day thinking about diseases that could kill huge numbers of people.” To those who object that such things are easier said than done, Gates counters that the development of the current range of Covid vaccines was improbably fast, taking a third of the time that would normally have been required. At the same time, the author examines some of the social changes that came about through the pandemic, including the “new normal” of distance working and learning—both of which, he urges, stand to be improved but need not be abandoned.

Gates offers a persuasive, 30,000-foot view of a global problem that, he insists, can be prevented given will and money.

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-53448-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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A solid foundational education in a handful of lively scientific topics.


Two science podcasters answer their mail.

In this illustrated follow-up to We Have No Idea: A Guide to the Unknown Universe (2017), Cham, a cartoonist and former research associate and instructor at Caltech, and Whiteson, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, explain the basic science behind subjects that seem to preoccupy the listeners of their podcast, Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe. Most of the questions involve physics or astrophysics and take the form of, is such-and-such possible?—e.g., teleportation, alien visitors, building a warp drive, entering a black hole). The authors emphasize that they are answering as scientists, not engineers. “A physicist will say something is possible if they don’t know of a law of physics that prevents it.” Thus, a spaceship traveling fast enough to reach the nearest star in a reasonable amount of time is not forbidden by the laws of physics, but building one is inconceivable. Similarly, wormholes and time travel are “not known to be impossible”—as are many other scenarios. Some distressing events are guaranteed. An asteroid will strike the Earth, the sun will explode, and the human race will become extinct, but studies reveal that none are immediate threats. Sadly, making Mars as habitable as Earth is possible but only with improbably futuristic technology. For those who suspect that we are living in a computer simulation, the authors describe what clues to look for. Readers may worry that the authors step beyond their expertise when they include chapters on the existence of an afterlife or the question of free will. Sticking closely to hard science, they deliver a lucid overview of brain function and the debate over the existence of alternate universes that is unlikely to provoke controversy. The authors’ work fits neatly into the recently burgeoning market of breezy pop-science books full of jokes, asides, and cartoons that serve as introductions to concepts that require much further study to fully understand.

A solid foundational education in a handful of lively scientific topics.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-18931-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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