Also of interest…in counterintuitive ideas

The Depths; Machine Made; It’s Complicated; The Improbability Principle

The Depths

by Jonathan Rottenberg (Basic, $27)

Jonathan Rottenberg’s rigorous new book “decisively discredits” the widespread notion that depression is evidence of a character flaw, said Nick Romeo in Rottenberg, a psychologist, argues instead that humans and many animals have long benefited from having such a shutdown mode because it has helped them survive in hostile environments. “Despite the dark subject,” following the book’s quest for depression’s roots proves “strangely consoling, even inspiring at points.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

Machine Made

by Terry Golway (Liveright, $28)

“To most of us, Tammany Hall simply means Boss Tweed, corruption, and extreme patronage,” said Charles Cooper in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. But Terry Golway highlights a more admirable side of the political club that ruled New York City for decades. Though Golway’s account “continually acknowledges the organization’s misdeeds,” it shows how Tammany embraced previously shunned immigrants, eventually marshalling its people power to launch an effective national reform movement.

It’s Complicated

by Danah Boyd (Yale, $25)

“If you’ve found yourself in stark terror of being outmaneuvered by your kids online,” Danah Boyd’s book offers a cure, said Cory Doctorow in Drawing on a decade of research, Microsoft’s resident scholar of social media “relentlessly” punctures baseless fears about cyberbullying, online predators, and Internet addiction. Boyd isn’t blind to online dangers. But she’s studied what teens truly do online, making this work “the most important analysis of networked culture I’ve read.”

The Improbability Principle

by David J. Hand (Scientific American, $28)

“Probability remains as hard for some of us to get a grip on as a wet and madly wriggling fish,” said Laura Miller in Fortunately, mathematician David Hand has offered us a net. His “remarkably entertaining” book explains how even seemingly miraculous coincidences—a man surviving seven lightning strikes, a psychic making accurate -predictions—actually do follow the laws of chance. Readers willing to take a chance on a book about math should find this one “intensely useful.”

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.