Reviews

Thoughts on books, articles, films, software, exhibits, and much, much more.

How Canada’s Scientists Mapped the Arctic North and Weathered the Cold War

In the 1940s and 1950s, atmospheric studies of Canada’s Arctic North were defined by technological failure. Edward Jones-Imhotep tells the story of the Cold War from a new vantage point—that of an “unreliable nation.”

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The "Visions of Pullman" mural in Chicago's Pullman Neighborhood

How the Other Half Loved Nature

A recent book shows Chicago’s turn-of-the-century black and immigrant laborers embraced the great outdoors. Did they have any other choice?

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The Black Birders Who Made White Ornithologists Famous

Nancy Jacobs’ new book uncovers how African birders and vernacular birding knowledge helped build European imperial science.

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Painting by Theron Caldwell Ris captures the multispecies lifeways Heise envisions.

Ursula K. Heise Thinks Beyond Melancholy: A Review of “Imagining Extinction”

Extinction stories have a flavor, and it tastes like melancholy. A new book asks what different narratives we could bring to the table.

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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, together with Al Gore, former United States Vice President and Chair of the Climate Reality Project, had a joint encounter with civil society representatives and the press during the during the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21). "An Inconvenient Sequel" follows Al Gore in his efforts to tackle climate change.

Al Gore and the Global South: A Review of “An Inconvenient Sequel”

Climate change advocacy requires finding common ground. Al Gore’s new documentary highlights the importance of listening to the Global South to find solutions.

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Seeds as Time Capsules

When Courtney Fullilove looks inside a seed, she sees Mennonite farmers, Comanche agriculture, and Echinacea patents. Her new book, “The Profit of the Earth,” shows that the genes of a seed can narrate the history of American empire.

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Black Branding and Gentrification in Washington, D.C.

Who should be allowed to brand a neighborhood? A review of Derek Hyra’s new book, “Race, Class, and Politics in the Cappuccino City,” examining transformations in the Shaw/U Street neighborhood of the nation’s capital.

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Toxic Bodies and the Wetter, Better Future of “Fury Road”

Most Hollywood catastrophe films offer neat endings and the promise of a fresh start. Fury Road asks what happens when the broken world cannot be made whole.

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Environmental Resentment on the Political Right

When is political resentment legitimate, and who gets to decide? Two recent books examine the emotional world of politics in rural Wisconsin and Louisiana.

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Humility and Hubris: A Review of Luc Jacquet’s “Ice and the Sky”

Even with the impacts of the Anthropocene, it would be hubristic not to realize that ice and sky will far outlast anything so puny as humanity.

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