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Sizing Up the Planet

Measure of the Earth: The Enlightenment Expedition That Reshaped Our World
By Larrie D. Ferreiro
Basic Book, 2011, 353 pages

Who would have thought that a book about an obscure eighteenth-century surveying expedition could be a good read? Not I, frankly. But I’m pleased for once to admit error. Measure of the Earth rescues its subject from the margins of history as it explores intriguing events and individuals, and bizarre locales and cultures. The shape of Earth prompted a fierce intellectual debate in Europe in the first decades of the eighteenth century.…
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by: Howard Schneider – Winter 2012

Hunters and Gatherers

The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life on Earth
by Richard Conniff
WW Norton & Company, 2011, 464 pages

The subtitle of this book is misleading: It makes it sound as if The Species Seekers is filled with Indiana Jones types snatching marvelous animals from the wild while brandishing cocky grins and boundless bravado. It wasn’t like that in the period – the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries – surveyed in this book, and so, true to reality, Richard Conniff’s latest work is a thorough and discerning account of the sometimes frustrating…
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by: Howard Schneider – Summer 2011

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