The NS Recommends: Books

Evolution and Belief: Confessions of a Religious Paleontologist
Robert J Asher
Cambridge University Press, 324pp, £15.99

Robert Asher was raised in a Presbyterian family in upstate New York. He still regularly attends Anglican church services. He is also a palaeontologist. But there is no "contradiction", he argues, "between my profession as an evolutionary scientist and my belief in God" .

Everything, for Asher, turns on the claim that his belief in the existence of a deity is "rational" even if it isn't scientific. Whether one accepts, as he does, that "science is a subset of rationality" and all that follows from that, this book is a very useful contribution to the often sterile debate about the relationship between science and religion.

Besieged: Life Under Fire on a Sarajevo Street
Barbara Demick
Granta, 240pp, £9.99

A first edition of this book, a record of the two years Demick spent in Sarajevo as a correspondent for the Philadelphia Inquirer during the Bosnian war, was published in 1996 under the title Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighbourhood. This was a vivid and often searing record of the lives of the inhabitants of a single street in a capital city under siege from Serb snipers
and artillery fire.

In this updated version, released on the 20th anniversary of the start of the siege of the Bosnian capital in 1992, Demick returns to Logavina Street and finds that the war didn't destroy Sarajevo's distinctive multi-ethnic "magic".

This article first appeared in the 02 April 2012 issue of the New Statesman, France is my enemy