Let Them Eat Shrimp:
The Tragic Disappearance
of the Rainforests of the Sea
For anyone wondering just what the
heck “rainforests of the sea” might
be, they’re the world’s largely unsung,
highly imperiled, biologically fabulous
coastal forests of mangroves. And it’s a
telling point that the word mangroves
does not appear on the cover of a book
devoted to their marvels and troubles.
Rainforests of the land evoke a
lot more international concern, and
Warne includes in the last chapter of
his vivid and pithy book a vignette of a
scientist glooming about the undeserv
edly low public profile of mangroves.
Warne’s book sets out to remedy this,
but it’s far from mere lecturing. Warne,
founding editor of New Zealand Geographic, visits mangroves around the
world and lets what he sees and the
people he meets make their own case.
The book is a travelog with attitude.
Warne explores mangroves and their
creatures from tigers to (possibly)
One Hundred Names for Love:
A Stroke, a Marriage, and the
Language of Healing
In this personal account of a stroke’s
devastation on the brain, a nature
writer chronicles her husband’s battle
to recover his lost words.
One day, a clot lodged in the brain of
Paul West, a professor, poet and novel
She describes the science — part neuro
science, part cognitive science and part
intuition — of figuring out what was
damaged in West’s brain and how to fix
it. In one memorable scene, renowned
fishing monkeys. His travels take him
to places where the rising demand for
coastal areas for aquaculture, particu
larly shrimp farming, has wiped out
mangroves. One farmer tells Warne how
aquaculture income let him educate his
children, but the cost of such ventures
hangs heavy in drinkingwater wells
now ruined with saltwater and land too
salttainted to grow
food. Warne finds
hope too, in restora
tion projects and a
complex but encour
aging example of
struggling to bal
ance competing local
opinions in managing mangroves.
Even armchair travelers play a role
in mangroves’ fate, Warne says. Ninety
percent of shrimp for sale in the United
States is imported, and twothirds of
it comes from farms. A good start, he
says, would be asking where your next
shrimp comes from. — Susan Milius
Island Press, 2011, 166 p., $25.95.
neurologist Oliver Sacks, a friend of
the family, comes to visit and coaxes
West — who can barely speak — to sing
“Happy Birthday” and “Jerusalem.”
On his road to recovery, West
becomes a “king of malaprops and
a geyser of neologisms,” Ackerman
writes. His neural hiccups — saying
“skellington” instead of skeleton, and
calling a computer a “light dancing
mailbox” — reveal the idiosyncrasies
of the brain. Ackerman leaves the
impression that the brain, and particu
larly one holding such vast verbal stores,
has an astounding capacity to heal.
At times, the scientific descriptions
lapse into generalizations and oversim
plifications, losing the nuances and
precision of brain research that scien
tists are still struggling to understand.
But Ackerman’s powerful narrative,
compelling subjects and imaginative,
lively writing more than make up for
those occasions. — Laura Sanders
The story of informa-
tion itself takes
readers on a ride
through history, from
the first alphabet to the bits and
bytes of the modern Information Age.
Pantheon, 2011, 526 p., $29.95.
The Cloud Collector’s
For weather buffs
or anyone who has
hunted cloud animals,
this clearly written guide to the skies
makes a game of spotting the many
kinds of clouds. Chronicle Books,
2011, 143 p., $14.95.
A fun survey of the
use of numbers to
make sound judg-
ments, from gravity’s
effects on sports
records to statistical analysis of the
weather. Johns Hopkins Univ. Press,
2011, 218 p., $25.
Driven to Extinction
A scientist exam-
ines how species
have reacted to past
climate shifts and
how organisms may
respond in the future. Sterling, 2011,
263 p., $22.95.
The Great Sperm
A rich exploration of
the evolution and biol-
ogy of this giant sea
creature. Univ. Press of
Kansas, 2011, 368 p., $34.95.
How to Order To order these books or others,
visit www.sciencenews.org/bookshelf. A click on
a book’s title will transfer you to Amazon.com.