Monthly Archives: March 2012

The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley (2010, Sourcebooks, Inc).

This is a lovely historical (and modern) romance full of poetic prose and evocative imagery. It alternates between the story of a seventeenth century Scottish woman caught up in the Jacobite rebellion (in which they tried unsuccessfully to bring back the King of Scotland from exile in France) and a modern Canadian woman writing a novel (on location) about her ancestors. (Turns out there was never a Jacob at all, it was King James they wanted to bring back). If you like historical romance, I guarantee you will love this one. I can’t say too much or I’ll spoil the plot for you.


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Filed under Historical fiction, Romance, United Kingdom

The Agile City

The Agile City: Building Well-being and Wealth in an Era of Climate Change by James S. Russell (Island Press, 2011).

Russell, an architectural journalist, writes knowledgeably about the financing, regulatory, and zoning issues which cause real estate development to favor the edges of suburbia over inner cities. Like many environmental writers today, Russell feels that redeveloping cities is the only viable way forward. He also suggests that cooperation, especially between different levels of government, is the key to implementing the sort of regional-scale urban planning that we need to successfully confront climate change. But will another book that demonstrates (by multiple examples) how many other nations get it right while the U.S. falls further behind, really make a difference? If only he could get it on the required reading list for the annual National Governors Association conference.

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Filed under Environment, Social Science, Urban planning

A Vast Machine

A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming by Paul N. Edwards (MIT Press, 2010).

This is a dense, scholarly book which took me a while to read, but it was worth the effort. When I left the world of climatology (the source of my summer jobs while I was in college) back in the early 1980s, computer models ran at processor speeds people probably have on their cell phones now, and even the scientists weren’t talking about global warming yet. Thirty years later, the evidence of climate change is all around us, so the much better models we have now don’t have to be perfect for people to believe in global warming. Ironically, all those years that Republican administrations told federal agencies to “do more research” before making any policy decisions have resulted in some pretty strong research evidence for anthropomorphic climate change.

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Filed under Environment