What We Are Reading Today: The Icepick Surgeon

What We Are Reading Today: The Icepick Surgeon
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Updated 19 July 2021

What We Are Reading Today: The Icepick Surgeon

What We Are Reading Today: The Icepick Surgeon

Author: Sam Kean

Unflinching, and exhilarating to the last page, The Icepick Surgeon fuses the drama of scientific discovery with the illicit thrill of a true-crime tale.
With his trademark wit and precision, Sam Kean “shows that, while science has done more good than harm in the world, rogue scientists do exist, and when we sacrifice morals for progress, we often end up with neither,” said a review on goodreads.com.
Kean “tells the true story of what happens when unfettered ambition pushes otherwise rational men and women to cross the line in the name of science, trampling ethical boundaries and often committing crimes in the process,” said the review.
The Icepick Surgeon is Kean’s sixth book. His previous work examined the entertaining and sometimes macaber side of science.
Kean’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Mental Floss, Slate, The Believer, Air & Space, Science, and The New Scientist.
According to the review, the Icepick Surgeon “discusses the ethical and moral limits of science and gives us informative insight into some of the most flagrant cases of immoral behavior in science.”


What We Are Reading Today: Unconditional Equals by Anne Phillips

What We Are Reading Today: Unconditional Equals by Anne Phillips
Updated 27 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Unconditional Equals by Anne Phillips

What We Are Reading Today: Unconditional Equals by Anne Phillips

For centuries, ringing declarations about all men being created equal appealed to a shared human nature as the reason to consider ourselves equals. But appeals to natural equality invited gradations of natural difference, and the ambiguity at the heart of “nature” enabled generations to write of people as equal by nature while barely noticing the exclusion of those marked as inferior by their gender, race, or class. Despite what we commonly tell ourselves, these exclusions and gradations continue today.

In Unconditional Equals, political philosopher Anne Phillips challenges attempts to justify equality by reference to a shared human nature, arguing that justification turns into conditions and ends up as exclusion. Rejecting the logic of justification, she calls instead for a genuinely unconditional equality.


What We Are Reading Today: Firefighting; The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons

What We Are Reading Today: Firefighting; The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons
Updated 27 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Firefighting; The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons

What We Are Reading Today: Firefighting; The Financial Crisis and Its Lessons

Edited by Ben S. Bernanke, Timothy F. Geithner and Henry M. Paulson Jr.

From the three primary architects of the American policy response to the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, a magnificent big-picture synthesis — from why it happened to where we are now, according to a review on goodreads.com.

In 2018, Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and Hank Paulson came together to reflect on the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis ten years on. Recognizing that, as Ben put it, “the enemy is forgetting,” they examine the causes of the crisis, why it was so damaging, and what it ultimately took to prevent a second Great Depression. And they provide to their successors in the United States and the finance ministers and central bank governors of other countries a valuable playbook for reducing the damage from future financial crises.

Firefighting provides a candid and powerful account of the choices they and their teams made during the crisis, working under two presidents and with the leaders of Congress.


What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It
Updated 25 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

What We Are Reading Today: Keeping At It

Edited by Paul A. Volcker and Christine Harper

The extraordinary life story of the former chairman of the Federal Reserve, whose absolute integrity provides the inspiration we need.

As chairman of the Federal Reserve (1979-1987), Paul Volcker slayed the inflation dragon that was consuming the American economy and restored the world’s faith in central bankers. That extraordinary feat was just one pivotal episode in a decades-long career serving six presidents, says a review on goodreads.com.

Told with wit, humor, and down-to-earth erudition, the narrative of Volcker’s career illuminates the changes that have taken place in American life, government, and the economy since WWII. He vibrantly illustrates the crises he managed alongside the world’s leading politicians, central bankers, and financiers. Yet he first found his model for competent and ethical governance in his father, the town manager of Teaneck, NJ, who instilled Volcker’s dedication to absolute integrity and his “three verities” of stable prices, sound finance, and good government.


What We Are Reading Today: Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization

What We Are Reading Today: Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization
Updated 24 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization

What We Are Reading Today: Along Came Google: A History of Library Digitization

Authors: Deanna Marcum and Roger C. Schonfeld

Libraries have long talked about providing comprehensive access to information for everyone. But when Google announced in 2004 that it planned to digitize books to make the world’s knowledge accessible to all, questions were raised about the roles and responsibilities of libraries, the rights of authors and publishers, and whether a powerful corporation should be the conveyor of such a fundamental public good. Along Came Google traces the history of Google’s book digitization project and its implications for us today.
Deanna Marcum and Roger Schonfeld draw on in-depth interviews with those who both embraced and resisted Google’s plans, from librarians and technologists to university leaders, tech executives, and the heads of leading publishing houses. They look at earlier digital initiatives to provide open access to knowledge,
and describe how Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page made the case for a universal digital library and drew on their company’s considerable financial resources to make it a reality.


What We Are Reading Today: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record
Updated 23 September 2021

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record

What We Are Reading Today: Lost Animals: Extinction and the Photographic Record

Author: Errol Fuller

A photograph of an extinct animal evokes a greater feeling of loss than any painting ever could. Often black and white or tinted sepia, these remarkable images have been taken mainly in zoos or wildlife parks, and in some cases depict the last known individual of the species.
Lost Animals is a unique photographic record of extinction, presented by a world authority on vanished animals. Richly illustrated throughout, this handsome book features photographs dating from around 1870 to as recently as 2004, the year that witnessed the demise of the Hawaiian Po’ouli. From a mother Thylacine and her pups to birds such as the Heath Hen and the Carolina Parakeet, Errol Fuller tells the story of each animal, explains why it became extinct, and discusses the circumstances surrounding the photography.
Covering 28 extinct species, Lost Animals includes familiar examples like the last Passenger Pigeon, Martha, and one of the last Ivory-billed Woodpeckers, photographed as it peers quizzically at the hat of one of the biologists who has just ringed it.