Beth's Bookshelf

The following books were written by family or friends, or else are simply books that I read and found valuable. If you wish to order any at , a trickle of funds will come this way, which I use to justify keeping up the Eating without Casein page.

Books by Family

My mother, Bettyann Holtzmann Kevles, has written a number of highly-regarded science books. The most recent is Almost Heaven: The Story of Women in Space. My mother wrote it, I did research and editorial work, and it's an interesting read, factually accurate (with some minor exceptions which will be corrected if the book comes out in paperback).

Another book, popular still, is the well-received Naked to the Bone: Medical Imaging in the Twentieth Century. It's also available in hardcover. The book is a fascinating history of the scientific development of medical imaging, from the first X-rays to the most modern MRIs, and the cultural repercussions that came with the ability to see inside the living body.

My father, Daniel Jerome Kevles, is an historian of science. Several of his books are currently in print, including:

The Baltimore Case : A Trial of Politics, Science and Character . (It, too, is available in hardcover .) This book explores a controversial case of scientifc fraud, or was it a kangaroo court at the NIH? Or was it over-aggressiveness on the part of Senator Dingel? Or perhaps it was ... Whatever it was, it made the national press, and diverted the careers of the principles in the case for a decade before it was resolved.

Code of Codes : Scientific and Social Issues in the Human Genome Project. Essays in this thoughtful collection were written by people in a position to know, including Horace Judson and James Watson.

In the Name of Eugenics: Genetics and the Uses of Human Heredity. says of this book, "In the 19th century, when the idea of eugenics (selective breeding to generate superior members of a species) was invited off the farm and into the parlor, it was a far-fetched notion with little possibility of success driven by clearly racist motivations. But at the end of the 20th century, biotechnological techniques and other agendas are making forms of human eugenics plausible. Rich in anecdote, narrative, and fact. An important book." It was also well reviewed by the New York Times and the Scientific American .

The Physicists : The History of a Scientific Community in Modern America. This book, still widely used in college courses on the history of science, covers the development not only of the physics of the 20th century, but of the men and women who were involved in the exciting, and frightening, discoveries that have shaped the world we live in today.

Books by Friends

My friend Hugh Nissenson's The Song of the Earth is a fascinating novel for the thoughtful reader. It is set in the form of a biography of a genetically engineered artist, born in the mid-21st century. Browse through the book at your local bookstore; you won't be sorry. (It's also a great book for book groups. You'll find it engenders a great deal of discussion.)

The Condor's Shadow : The Loss and Recovery of Wildlife in America by David Wilcove. This book sometimes read likes an adventure tale, sometimes like a mystery, but is always built on sound research. David Wilcove is Chief Scientist at the Environmental Defense Fund, and a smooth writer, too!

Flower Garden (Harcourt Brace Big Books) by Eve Bunting. Eve has written, literally, hundreds of books for children. Many, like this one, shine a light on the small beauties that can be found in the lives of children everywhere. This, one of my favorite titles, is about a girl and her daddy, who make a flower garden for her mother in their walk-up apartment. It's a good read-together book for an adult and preschooler.

Books I Love Even Though I've Never Met the Authors

Winter's Tale (A Harvest Book) by Mark Helprin. This book takes place in a New York City that never was. However, it's the same New York City that appears in every myth, history text and dream that each of us has loved. The story begins with a white horse, weaves through Ellis Island and the Algonquin indians, through factories and the Hudson Valley, until it winds up at the millenium. Every time I read it I wonder anew at the richness of language and imagery, and find new meaning. It's a prime candidate for a desert island's bookshelf.

Panama: A Novel by Eric Zency. It's 1892 and the French have just failed to dig a canal across Panama. In Paris the fallout is a scandal that threatens to bring down the government. In the midst of this Henry Adams is trying to locate a girl with whom he spent a glorious day at Chartres -- and the girl is somehow enmeshed with the Panamal canal scandal. Besides being an engaging mystery, Panama is a work of literature that uses powerful imagery and delightful language to illustrate the ways in which the world's metaphors were changing at the height of the industrial revolution. Many of the ideas which the protagonist mulls are as elucidatory of today's world as they are of the world of 1892. You may be able to find it at

Last Days of Summer: A Novel by Steve Kluger. This epistolary novel, set in the baseball-loving Brooklyn in the 1940s, showcases the developing relationship between a wise-ass boy who needs a father, and a star ballplayer who needs responsibility. Each uses the other to create what he needs in what is one of the best books I've read in a while. The setting, while wonderfully done, is not where the book's power lies. It is in the quality of writing and the depth of the characters, which will make you wish the book would never end.

Genesis (Memory of Fire) by Eduardo Galeano. This book is the first part of a folkloric history of South America. It is written as a loose sequence of present-tense vignettes, which move inexorably through South America's tumultuous history.

The Complete Far Side 1980-1994 (2 vol set) is one of the funniest books I've ever seen. Gary Larsen has a sense of humor that's quirky and cynical -- I find new favorites every day.

Map: Satellite contains satellite images of the earth, with several geopolitical maps following each satellite image. The book is fun to look through, and also makes an excellent bar/bat mitzvah gift or birthday present for teens and map-loving adults.