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Welcome to the 2015 Politics and Prose Holiday Newsletter. As we have in past years, we’ve tried to select the best—and most beautiful—recent books, fiction and nonfiction, to help you with gift-giving.

It’s also traditional to emphasize how difficult making these choices has been—it’s not just a matter of so many books, but of so many truly wonderful books. This year there’s been an especially impressive outpouring of short fiction and memoirs, but you’ll find bookseller favorites on all subjects here. Enjoy!

Pages

Lisa Randall, author of Warped Passages, is a Harvard particle physicist, and the first half of Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs (Ecco, $29.99) unfolds in space. From inner to outer, Big Bang to many light years later, Randall traces the development of ordinary matter—the 15% of the universe we can see—and the probable presence of dark matter (distinct from black holes), which is “oblivious” to light and may interact only with gravity. Though “we don’t know what dark matter is or is made of,” scientists believe it has been essential in forming and stabilizing galaxies. So what does that mean for us, here? The second half of the book loops back to Earth. Randall uses geology, paleobiology, and chemistry to follow a trail of iridium, microscopic diamonds, and shocked quartz from Italy to Montana to Russia, finally locating in the Gulf of Mexico the impact crater marking the moment 66-million years ago when a massive asteroid struck the planet. It’s a riveting investigation. Among the meteorite’s effects was the extinction of the dinosaurs, but what set that object in motion may have been dark matter. Randall theorizes that it caused a perturbation in the distant Oort cloud, sending an object Earthward. While admitting that this is speculative, Randall not only tells “one of the best stories in science,” but gives a spirited demonstration of science in action.

Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9780062328472
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco Press - October 27th, 2015

Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062328502
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Ecco Press - October 18th, 2016

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