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Aventis Prize 2005  

See also Aventis Prize 2004

Read more about this year's prestigious Aventis Prize, arguably the best popular science books of 2004. All these books are worth a look - it's a superb collection, but also check out our alternative list (which we think is even better!) and the junior list.

Click on the book name to see the review. We are yet to review books without a rating below, but you can still click on the Amazon buttons to find out more. For books we have reviewed, click on the review or the book name to find out more or buy at Amazon.

Philip Ball Critical Mass Overlong and inconclusive but still fascinating look at the statistical behaviour of humanity
Richard Dawkins The Ancestor's Tale Atypical Dawkins - less polished argument than coffee table gloss. Still excellent content in this trip into our biological past, but very bitty.
Douwe Draaisma Why Life Speeds Up as You Get Older Visit bookshop
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Griffith Edwards Matters of Substance Visit bookshop
Brian Fagan The Long Summer Well-written and engrossing study of the way the climate changes between 18,000BC and the present time have influenced human civilization
Patricia Fara Pandora's Breeches Interesting exploration of women's early role in science
Richard Fortey The Earth: An Intimate History Not only a good explanation of how the Earth works, but a tour of key locations too.
John Gribbin Deep Simplicity Chaos, complexity and simplicity related to the origins of life, but sadly not very well explained.
Diarmuid Jeffreys Aspirin: the Story of a Wonder Drug The story of aspirin from quinine substitute to heart medicine. Excellent background; truly fascinating 
Michael Marmot Status Syndrome Brilliant research on the way social standing affects health and life expectancy, but so-so book
Kathleen Taylor Brainwashing: The Story of Mind Control That rarest of things, an academic book that is enjoyable to the general reader - excellent study of brainwashing
Robert Winston The Human Mind A good exploration of the human brain and its functions, but not what the title says it is and occasionally trivializes

Our own shortlist

The Aventis Prize shortlist aren't the only great popular science books out in 2004 - take a look at our alternative list:

Brian Cathcart The Fly in the Cathedral Brilliant story of the race to crack open the atomic nucleus: a must!
Brian Greene The Fabric of the Cosmos Great exploration of the nature of space, time and matter, starting with relativity and quantum theory and reaching out to the universe
Eric Lax The Mould in Doctor Florey's Coat The true story of the development of penicillin - both fascinating and very different from the myth
Simon Singh Big Bang The answer to the ultimate question of the universe - where did it come from? - beautifully put in context
David Livingstone Smith Why We Lie Be amazed, not just at how much we lie, but how essential it is for the operation of society. Interesting and original
Maurice Wilkins The Third Man in the Double Helix Autobiography of the third DNA Nobel prize winner. Not great writing, but fascinating insight, especially into the Frankin affair

Chair of this year's General Prize Judging Panel and winner in 2004, Bill Bryson, said: "It was an honour to Chair this year's Prizes after winning last year and I now know what a difficult job it is choosing a long-list! The quality of books submitted to the Prizes this year was again superb with entries from a fascinating range of subject areas, including brainwashing, the physics of society and drug control." Judges are Bill Bryson, author and winner of the General Prize in 2004 (chair), Lisa Burke, forecaster and Sky News weather presenter, Sian Ede, renowned UK authority on art and science interactions, Mark Lythgoe, broadcaster, neurophysiologist and lecturer, Ruth Padel, scholar, poet and Chair of the UK Poetry Society.


Junior Prize 2005

David Burnie Kingfisher Knowledge: Endangered Planet Visit bookshop
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Philip Clarke, Laura Howell & Sarah Kahn Mysteries & Marvels of Science Visit bookshop
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Mike Goldsmith Kingfisher Knowledge: Solar System Visit bookshop
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Ian Graham & David Antram Curie & the Science of Radioactivity Visit bookshop
Nicholas Harris Leap Through Time: Earthquake  
Patricia Macnair Bodyscope: The Story of Life Visit bookshop
Patricia Macnair Bodyscope: Movers & Shakers Visit bookshop
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Mick Manning & Brita Granström Seaside Scientist Visit bookshop
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Robin Scagell Night Sky Atlas Beautifully illustrated and very effective guide to the night sky that should appeal to all ages
Barbara Taylor Kingfisher Knowledge: Animal Giants Visit bookshop
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Matt Turner E Explore Earth Series with good web links and especially attractive online clipart, but the book on the Earth isn't really readable through, nor does it work as a reference
Richard Walker Kingfisher Knowledge: Microscopic Life Visit bookshop
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Robert Winston What Makes Me, Me? Stunningly good DK mega-illustrated guide to what make a human being and an individual person. Everything from body parts to personality tests. 

This year’s short-list honours a diverse range of books, covering topics as broad as microscopic bugs to nurturing and protecting the earth. Robert Winston’s first book for children ‘What Makes Me, Me?’ makes it onto the short-list. His book ‘The Human Mind’ has also been long-listed for the General Prize.

“This year’s Aventis Prizes for Science Books Junior Prize short-list ranges from the minutiae of insects to the broad sweep of the future of our planet and what makes us, us!” commented Dr. Tanya Bryon, chair of the Junior Prize judges. “Not bad for six books.”

The judges for the 2005 Aventis Prizes for Science Books Junior Prize are: Tanya Byron, BBC presenter and consultant clinical psychologist (chair), Jim Al-Khalili, theoretical nuclear physicist and popular science author, Nick Arnold, author and winner of the Junior Prize 2004, Frances Dipper, marine biologist and winner of the Junior Prize 2003, Simon Pugh-Jones, award-winning secondary-school teacher.

To find out more about the Aventis Prizes see the official website.



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Last update 16 April 2011