cover image The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2021

The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2021

Edited by Ed Yong and Jaime Green. Mariner, $16.99 trade paper (416p) ISBN 978-0-35-840006-6

Yong (I Contain Multitudes), a staff writer at the Atlantic, and science writer Green bring together 26 hard-hitting essays that highlight science’s role in “a world upended.” Many pieces cover the Covid-19 pandemic: Julia Craven’s “It’s Not Too Late to Save Black Lives” outlines medical racism and “how the Black community is being pummeled by the coronavirus,” and in “The Covid Drug Wars That Pitted Doctor vs. Doctor,” Susan Dominus recounts the conflict between physicians and scientists regarding the off-label drugs that could prove beneficial to patients but hadn’t yet undergone “rigorous trials.” Susan Orlean writes in “Rabbit Fever” about a lesser-known epidemic that ran through rabbits at Manhattan’s Center for Avian and Exotic Medicine. Not all of the essays cover pandemics, though: Sarah Zhang’s “The Last Children of Down Syndrome” covers the intricacies of prenatal testing, and Sabrina Imbler’s “The Unsung Heroine of Lichenology” pays homage to 20th-century scientist Elke Mackenzie. Where the collection shines brightest is in its ability to present human experiences and emotions in an intimate manner without sacrificing scientific rigor or specificity. Timely and informative, this anthology is sure to satisfy fans of science journalism. Agent: PJ Mark, Janklow & Nesbit Assoc. (Oct.)