Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History (W.W. Norton, $25.95) is a fine and serious book, even though the title may lead some readers to wonder what it could possibly be about. Far from an x-rated treatment of the subject, it is a highly readable and fascinating documentation of how an essential part of the human anatomy has been altered and harmed by environmental degradation. Florence Williams, a respected environmental reporter, discovered while breast-feeding her child that she had a high percentage of a toxin called perchlorate in her breast milk. This prompted her to do more research (it turns out most women have perchlorate and a lot of other bad stuff in their mammary glands) that explores the history and evolution of breasts, including the early popularity of silicon implants to a frightening rise in breast cancer cases among U.S. servicemen.
In Ladies Of Liberty (Harper Perennial, $15.99) Cokie Roberts picks up where she left off in Founding Mothers: George Washington is dead, and the young nation is struggling to keep itself together during the transition. Luckily, our plucky heroines Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison, Martha Jefferson Randolph, and others are there to encourage, push, nag, and prod their husbands in the right direction. With the women’s sacrifices, our country becomes unified and strong, and while the ladies haven’t always gotten the credit they deserve, Ms. Roberts’s delightful book does a great job of giving them their due.