Four Books on FiveBooks


Cambridge titles abound in recent FiveBooks interviews over on The Browser! Let’s see if you can match the books Professor James Dunkerly and statistician Andrew Gelman picked as the best in Latin American History and Statistics with what each had to say about them.

Answers are at the bottom. No peeking!

  1. Andrès Bello: Scholarship and Nation-Building in Nineteenth-Century Latin America by Ivan Jáksic
  2. How Animals Work by Knut Schmidt-Nielsen
  3. The First America: The Spanish Monarchy, Creole Patriots and the Liberal State, 1492-1867 by D.A. Brading
  4. Judgment Under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases by Daniel Kahneman, Paul Slovic, Amos Tversky

a) “Most of this is not statistics, though, it’s really physics. How can birds fly and lift themselves up in the air? How do dogs cool themselves by panting? It sounds sort of obvious: they’re dripping water and as water evaporates it cools the tongue. But, as he points out, if you’re a dog and you’re panting to cool your tongue, you have to get the cool blood that’s in your tongue circulating to the rest of your body, you actually have to circulate all your blood through your tongue to cool it off. So how do you get it there? You have to move the blood fast … The book has a lot of things like that: he’s looking at things that people take for granted, and saying, you can’t just take these things for granted, these are amazing feats of engineering.”

b) “If there was one single book about all the ideas of Spanish America throughout very nearly 400 years, this would be the one that I would recommend.”

c) “They did a series of studies that started with fairly complicated questions about statistical significance that people were getting wrong and they boiled them down, over the years, to simpler and simpler questions that people couldn’t get – people were making, sometimes called cognitive illusions. This book was the first place that a lot of these things were published. It came out in the early 1980s, and it’s a collection of articles. It has about 25 different chapters by different people, the top people in the field describing all sorts of experiments. I like to say that this is the best-edited book that I’ve ever seen, at least since the New Testament.”

d) “This excellent biography shows – not unlike the Cañizares volume – how ideas were shared to an appreciable degree across North and South Atlantic worlds. ____’s inaugural speech in Santiago, for instance, is very similar in approach to that of Cardinal Newman’s ‘Idea of a University’.

1. d 2. a 3. b 4. c

Read James Dunkerley’s full interview >>

Read Andrew Gelman’s full interview>>

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