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The following are mini-reviews of books I read in 2003.
Also see the full index of books I've read.

  [Book cover]

The Lying Stones of Marrakech: Penultimate Reflections in Natural History

by Stephen Jay Gould
  [Book cover]

The Molecule Hunt: Archaeology and the Search for Ancient DNA

by Martin Jones
An interesting subject and what promised to be an interesting book. However, the going got a little tedious with page after page of prose about this experiment and that experiment, each extracting 100-300 base pairs from some fossil - would an occasional diagram, graph, or picture have been too much to ask? For instance, discussions of the spread of human populations cried out for maps with arrows! I gave up about 2/3's of the way through the book and absorbed myself in Wodehouse (see below).
The frequent references to the late Allan Wilson were not unexpected, but bothered me nonetheless. A book I read many years ago about the "Mitochondrial Eve" controversy portayed Wilson's academic political machinations during the controversy in an unfavorable light, so my preconceptions about him are somewhat tainted. (Joann C. Gutin's "Who Peopled the Planet?" discusses the controversy and then branches off into a fascinating look at what linguistics research reveals about ancient populations. Sean D. Pitman, M.D. - apparently an Intelligent Design enthusiast - has written an interesting article on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA mutation rates, "DNA Mutation Rates and Evolution".)

Indiscretions of Archie

Love Among the Chickens

Psmith, Journalist

A Damsel in Distress

The Intrusion of Jimmy

Piccadilly Jim

Something New

by P. G. (Pelham Grenville) Wodehouse (Wikipedia)
Addictive! His stories never fail to bring a smile to my face. I downloaded these stories in plain-text format from, of all places, the Russian Wodehouse Society! (The stories are now available at Project Gutenberg.)
  [Dinah Maria Craik]

John Halifax, Gentleman

by Dinah Maria (Mulock) Craik (Wikipedia)
Available in an on-line 1897 edition with original illustrations, or in plain-text format. Also see Sally Mitchell's on-line book, Dinah Mulock Craik, which includes a chapter, "John Halifax, Gentleman: Epitome of an Age". And my own "Did George Eliot Write This?".
Project Gutenberg eBook: John Halifax, Gentleman
  [Anne Bronte]

Agnes Grey

by Anne Brontë (Wikipedia)
Project Gutenberg eBook: Agnes Grey
  [Book cover]

Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time

by Michael Shermer
  [Book cover]

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong

by James W. Loewen
  [Book cover]

Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations

by Al Franken
I got this book for Christmas. My previous reading for the past few months has consisted of computer papers downloaded from the Internet, some novels downloaded from Project Gutenberg, some P. G. Wodehouse stories downloaded from the Russian Wodehouse Society, and mystery and science fiction short stories downloaded from various sites ... I was too lazy to keep track of what I was reading!
Also see AlFrankenWeb: A Fair and Balanced Fan Page.

Alex Measday  /  E-mail