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Let's See More Long Book Reviews

John Beatty informed me that you had cut much of his review of my book Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology (The Scientist, December 15, 1986, pp. 23-24) without consultation. This was dismaying news for obvious minor personal reasons and also for the major reason that The Scientist apparently does not wish to publish substantive book reviews. This, I think, is a big mistake. If you are going to review science books at all, then review them well and in depth. The idea of your newspaper is grea

By | January 26, 1987

John Beatty informed me that you had cut much of his review of my book Sewall Wright and Evolutionary Biology (The Scientist, December 15, 1986, pp. 23-24) without consultation. This was dismaying news for obvious minor personal reasons and also for the major reason that The Scientist apparently does not wish to publish substantive book reviews. This, I think, is a big mistake. If you are going to review science books at all, then review them well and in depth.

The idea of your newspaper is great, and I have subscribed for two years (all that was possible on the subscription form). Part of the reason I subscribed was to have timely but substantive reviews of the science books generally ignored by the New York Times and the New York Review of Books, and picked up only later by Science and Nature and much later still by the Quarterly Review of Biology, American Scientist, and other scholarly journals. If you want to have a dialogue about new books, then you simply must give reviewers more space for substantive analysis.

—William B. Provine
Dept. of History,
McGraw Hall, Cornell University,
Ithaca, NY 14853-4601

Editor's note: It is the policy of The Scientist to ask authors to review major changes or cuts in their articles. In this case, we requested a 600-word review of the Sewall Wright book to accompany a second 600-800 word review. The Beatty review was received late in the publication process and was more than 2,000 words in length. Because of time constraints, the review was shortened without consulting the author. This is not our normal practice.
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