Charles King’s The Reinvention of Humanity traces the revelatory life and work of anthropologist Franz Boas, as well as the four American women whose research he guided: Margaret Mead, Zora Neale Hurston, Ruth Benedict and Ella Cara Deloria. Between them they revolutionized how we study humankind. The result is a scintillating social history, multi-biography and ever-prescient look at how we see ourselves and others. It’s one of my books of the year.
In Superior, journalist Angela Saini traces the myths and falsehoods behind ‘race science’, and the endemic racism which lies within. Beyond unpicking the ideas behind eugenics in history, this sobering and fascinating book maps a broader history of how science has always enabled and championed racism and still does today; how far we’ve come and have yet to go.
Underland is Robert Macfarlane’s latest book, arguably his most unique, ambitious, and by popular opinion might be his best. A ‘deep time journey’ brimming with mystery, romance and wandering, Underland explores the world in its many strange and magical forms beneath our feet. His journey takes him from Somerset, to Paris, to Greenland, to Epping Forest, and while hurtling us back thousands of years to the earliest evidence of our existence, Macfarlane’s microscope zooms back in to our current moment, and the way we live now in the age of the Anthropocene. For lovers of nature, history, geology, and simply a great story.