Look out for David Owen's next book, Where the Water Goes.

A challenging, controversial, and highly readable look at our lives, our world, and our future.

Most Americans think of crowded cities as ecological nightmares, as wastelands of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. Yet residents of compact urban centers, Owen shows, individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than other Americans. They live in smaller spaces, discard less trash, and, most important of all, spend far less time in automobiles. Residents of Manhattan—the most densely populated place in North America—rank first in public-transit use and last in percapita greenhouse-gas production, and they consume gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn’t matched since the mid-1920s, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. They are also among the only people in the United States for whom walking is still an important means of daily transportation.

These achievements are not accidents. Spreading people thinly across the countryside may make them feel green, but it doesn’t reduce the damage they do to the environment. In fact, it increases the damage, while also making the problems they cause harder to see and to address. Owen contends that the environmental problem we face, at the current stage of our assault on the world’s nonrenewable resources, is not how to make teeming cities more like the pristine countryside. The problem is how to make other settled places more like Manhattan, whose residents presently come closer than any other Americans to meeting environmental goals that all of us, eventually, will have to come to terms with.
The surprising science of hearing and the remarkable technologies that can help us hear better

Our sense of hearing makes it easy to connect with the world and the people around us. The human system for processing sound is a biological marvel, an intricate assembly of delicate membranes, bones, receptor cells, and neurons. Yet many people take their ears for granted, abusing them with loud restaurants, rock concerts, and Q-tips. And then, eventually, most of us start to go deaf.

Millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss. Faced with the cost and stigma of hearing aids, the natural human tendency is to do nothing and hope for the best, usually while pretending that nothing is wrong. In Volume Control, David Owen argues this inaction comes with a huge social cost. He demystifies the science of hearing while encouraging readers to get the treatment they need for hearing loss and protect the hearing they still have.

Hearing aids are rapidly improving and becoming more versatile. Inexpensive high-tech substitutes are increasingly available, making it possible for more of us to boost our weakening ears without bankrupting ourselves. Relatively soon, physicians may be able to reverse losses that have always been considered irreversible. Even the insistent buzz of tinnitus may soon yield to relatively simple treatments and techniques. With wit and clarity, Owen explores the incredible possibilities of technologically assisted hearing. And he proves that ears, whether they're working or not, are endlessly interesting.
Most parents do more harm than good when they try to teach their children about money. They make saving seem like a punishment, and force their children to view reckless spending as their only rational choice. To most kids, a savings account is just a black hole that swallows birthday checks.
David Owen, a New Yorker staff writer and the father of two children, has devised a revolutionary new way to teach kids about money. In The First National Bank of Dad, he explains how he helped his own son and daughter become eager savers and rational spenders. He started by setting up a bank of his own at home and offering his young children an attractively high rate of return on any amount they chose to save. "If you hang on to some of your wealth instead of spending it immediately," he told them, "in a little while, you'll be able to double or even triple your allowance." A few years later, he started his own stock market and money-market fund for them.
Most children already have a pretty good idea of how money works, Owen believes; that's why they are seldom interested in punitive savings schemes mandated by their parents. The first step in making children financially responsible, he writes, is to take advantage of human nature rather than ignoring it or futilely trying to change it.
"My children are often quite irresponsible with my money, and why shouldn't they be?" he writes. "But they are extremely careful with their own." The First National Bank of Dad also explains how to give children real experience with all kinds of investments, how to foster their charitable instincts, how to make them more helpful around the house, how to set their allowances, and how to help them acquire a sense of value that goes far beyond money. He also describes at length what he feels is the best investment any parent can make for a child -- an idea that will surprise most readers.
Earl Woods, the father of young Eldrick "Tiger" Woods, was widely ridiculed in 1996 when, in an article anointing his son as Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year, he likened Tiger's potential impact to that of a messiah. This unseemly proclamation appeared to embody all the worst elements of the dreaded sports-parent who seeks financial windfall and personal validation by pushing his child to excel on the diamond, the gridiron, the court, or the fairways. But in light of all we know now about Tiger Woods, David Owen asks in The Chosen One, who is to say that it wasn't Tiger's transcendent greatness all along that induced his father to guide him, rather than the father pushing the son?
Not since the dawn of competitive tournament golf has anyone distanced himself from the rest of the world the way Tiger has. He is the best there is at nearly every aspect of the game: the longest driver, the strongest iron player, the most creative around the greens, and so sharp a clutch putter that when he putts well the tournament is over, and when he putts badly he often wins anyway. He is a breakthrough athlete in a sport remarkably resistant to them; in every tournament, Tiger has to beat a hundred-plus competitors, any of whom can take away a title with a four-day hot streak. When Michael Jordan won all his back-to-back championships, each night he only had to beat one team.
Tiger is also a breakthrough athlete as one of the first true multicultural icons. There are African-American, Asian, Native American, and Caucasian elements to his roots; he carries with him parts of so many ethnicities that he not only shatters stereotypes but renders the whole notion of racial classification irrelevant. It is ironic that such an athlete would emerge in golf, America's most tradition-bound and racially insensitive sport.
In The Chosen One, gifted essayist David Owen ponders the social, economic, and athletic implications of this amazing young man. We are only beginning to see all the ways that Tiger Woods might reshape the world. Owen's thoughtful, incisive, elegant, and provocative work examines this phenomenon unlike any the fields of play have ever seen, in a book that will stand alongside John McPhee's A Sense of Where You Are (about Princeton forward Bill Bradley) among the classic works of sports philosophy.
Jack Nicklaus once said of the incomparable Tiger Woods (echoing a comment made about Nicklaus by Bobby Jones), "He plays a game with which I am not familiar." David Owen, however, plays a game with which we are all very familiar: He plays in a weekly foursome, takes mulligans off the first tee, practices intermittently at best, marks his ball on the green with his lucky coin (until the luck wears out and another trinket is deemed to have better karma), wore a copper wristband because Seve Ballesteros for reasons beyond understanding said to, and struggles for consistency even though his swing is consistent -- and mediocre. He bets, he wins, he loses, he agonizes, he dreams.

Hit & Hope is as pure a definition of the game of golf as anyone has ever devised. Through the essays in this book, acclaimed columnist and author Owen takes the mundane aspects of the game and our approach to it and stands them on their head, turns them inside out, and lays our follies bare for all the world to see (all the world except ourselves, of course). He does for American golfers what P. G. Wodehouse did for our English cousins, or Jacques Tati did for humanity at large: He finds humor and nobility in our essential silliness, as expressed in our pursuit of a little white ball over a vast (but not vast enough to contain our slices) greensward.

Funny, candid, and thoughtful, Hit & Hope is an invaluable addition to any duffer's bag and the truest commentary on how -- and why -- the rest of us play golf.
It was the upset to end all upsets. On 8 April 1967 at Aintree racecourse in Liverpool, a 100-1 outsider in peculiar blinkers sidestepped chaos extraordinary even by the Grand National's standards and won the world's toughest steeplechase.

The jumps-racing establishment - and Gregory Peck, the Hollywood actor whose much-fancied horse was reduced to the status of an also-ran - took a dim view. But Foinavon, the dogged victor, and Susie, the white nanny goat who accompanied him everywhere, became instant celebrities. Within days, the traffic was being stopped for them in front of Buckingham Palace en route to an audience with the Duchess of Kent. Fan mail arrived addressed to 'Foinavon, England'. According to John Kempton, Foinavon's trainer, the 1967 race 'reminded everyone that the National was part of our heritage'.

Foinavon's Grand National victory has become as much a part of British sporting folklore as the England football team's one and only World Cup win the previous year. The race has even spawned its own mythology, with the winner portrayed as a horse so useless that not even its owner or trainer could be bothered to come to Liverpool to see him run. Yet remarkably the real story of how Foinavon emerged from an obscure yard near the ancient Ridgeway to pull off one of the most talked-about victories in horseracing history has never been told.

Based on original interviews with scores of people who were at Aintree on that rainswept day, or whose lives were in some way touched by the shock result, this book will use the story of this extraordinary race to explore why the Grand National holds tens of millions of people spellbound, year after year, for ten minutes on a Saturday afternoon in early spring.
Most Americans think of crowded cities as ecological nightmares-as wastelands of concrete and garbage and diesel fumes and traffic jams. Yet residents of compact urban centers, David Owen shows, individually consume less oil, electricity, and water than other Americans. They live in smaller spaces, discard less trash, and, most important of all, spend far less time in automobiles. Residents of Manhattan-the most densely populated place in North America-rank first in public-transit use and last in per-capita greenhouse gas production, and they consume gasoline at a rate that the country as a whole hasn't matched since the mid-1920s, when the most widely owned car in the United States was the Ford Model T. They are also among the only people in the United States for whom walking is still an important means of daily transportation. These achievements are not accidents. Spreading people thinly across the countryside may make them feel green, but it doesn't reduce the damage they do to the environment. In fact, it increases the damage, while also making the problems they cause harder to see and to address. Owen contends that the environmental problem we face, at the current stage of our assault on the world's nonrenewable resources, is not how to make teeming cities more like the pristine countryside. The problem is how to make other settled places more like Manhattan, whose residents presently come closer than any other Americans to meeting environmental goals that all of us, eventually, will have to come to terms with.
The surprising science of hearing and the remarkable technologies that can help us hear better

Our sense of hearing makes it easy to connect with the world and the people around us. The human system for processing sound is a biological marvel, an intricate assembly of delicate membranes, bones, receptor cells, and neurons. Yet many people take their ears for granted, abusing them with loud restaurants, rock concerts, and Q-tips. And then, eventually, most of us start to go deaf.

Millions of Americans suffer from hearing loss. Faced with the cost and stigma of hearing aids, the natural human tendency is to do nothing and hope for the best, usually while pretending that nothing is wrong. In Volume Control, David Owen argues this inaction comes with a huge social cost. He demystifies the science of hearing while encouraging readers to get the treatment they need for hearing loss and protect the hearing they still have.

Hearing aids are rapidly improving and becoming more versatile. Inexpensive high-tech substitutes are increasingly available, making it possible for more of us to boost our weakening ears without bankrupting ourselves. Relatively soon, physicians may be able to reverse losses that have always been considered irreversible. Even the insistent buzz of tinnitus may soon yield to relatively simple treatments and techniques. With wit and clarity, Owen explores the incredible possibilities of technologically assisted hearing. And he proves that ears, whether they're working or not, are endlessly interesting.
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