|Don Cheadle (far right) and family, in Henry Louis Gates's new book. (''In Search of Our Roots'')|
At the time of her death, in 2001, at the age of 59, Meadows had been at work on another book. Diana Wright, a colleague at the Sustainability Institute, edited it, and "Thinking in Systems: A Primer" (Chelsea Green) is being published this week.
Meadows had a talent for translating the complex workings of agricultural, energy, and other systems into everyday language. On the cover of the new book is an image of a Slinky, which Meadows liked to use in the classroom to demonstrate how systems work.
Dale Peterson, author of "Jane Goodall: The Woman Who Redefined Man," will moderate "Nature and the Written Word: A Roundtable Discussion on the Task and Craft of Nature Writing" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Harvard Center for the Humanities, 12 Quincy St., Cambridge. Sy Montgomery ("The Good Good Pig"), Katy Payne ("Silent Thunder: In the Presence of Elephants"), and John Elder ("Reading the Mountains of Home") will weigh in.
Some of the most compelling details come not from DNA testing but from forgotten family histories. Chris Rock said he was amazed to find out that a 19th-century ancestor, Julius Tingman, had served as a legislator in South Carolina. Before launching a career in comedy, Rock had little hope for his future. "I assumed I would pick up things for white people for the rest of my life. Because that's what everyone I knew did," he tells Gates. If he had known about Tingman, Rock adds, "it might have taken away the inevitability that I was going to be nothing."
"Banquet at Delmonico's: Great Minds, the Gilded Age, and the Triumph of Evolution in America," by Barry Werth (Random House)
"Dating Jesus: A Story of Fundamentalism, Feminism, and the American Girl," by Susan Campbell (Beacon)
Jan Gardner can be reached at JanLGardner@yahoo.com.