Books by Shawna Vogel

Released: April 1, 1999

A bright and lively study on weight control, featuring research into the genetic basis of obesity, past and future drug treatments, self-help diet gurus, and the efforts of the size-acceptance movement to change a fat-unfriendly world. Science writer Vogel (Naked Earth: The New Geophysics, 1995) tackles the weight issue from a variety of angles, interviewing molecular biologists and obesity researchers, as well as activists from the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and promoters of religious-based diet programs. What she creates is a picture of a culture obsessed with the subject of weight control. She relates key developments in the search for an understanding of the role of genes in weight control, making clear that genes provide only the propensity for obesity and that our own habits are what make the difference. Vogel also explores two somewhat contradictory concepts currently in favor: one that obesity is a chronic disease requiring not a quick-weight-loss solution but long-term treatment, and the other that the focus of treatment should not be on reducing fatness but on promoting metabolic fitness. While some might be tempted to find humor in NAAFA activists' attempts to make being fat acceptable or in Gwen Shamblin's Christian-based diet program, Weigh Down, which asks participants to convert their love of food into love for God, Vogel treats these subjects with the same seriousness and respect she affords to scientific researchers. Everyone, it seems, is groping with a complex puzzle that has not yielded itself up to solution. In sum, Vogel reports, there is much still to be learned about how different bodies control weight, and the discoveries that scientists in their labs may come up with will still have to be acted upon by human beings living in a weight-obsessed world. Not another how-to, but a clear and informative guide to the larger issues involved in weight control. Read full book review >
NAKED EARTH by Shawna Vogel
Released: May 22, 1995

A superbly written and informative account that gives geophysics the excitement of a science-adventure tale. Vogel, a former associate editor for Discover magazine, clearly has a love affair going with earthquakes, volcanoes, and tectonic plates. Her infectious enthusiasm and lucid prose make this debut an engaging page-turner. ``The earth is the main character of this book,'' she tells us, and it is, as the author breathes life into scientific theory, portraying our world in a constant process of change. The text is well organized and gives just enough information for the science enthusiast, never too much. Vogel begins with the familiar—earthquakes—and builds our understanding of what they are and why they happen. She takes us into the not-so-distant past when plate tectonics was still a new, cutting-edge theory; she then shows us the enormous amount of supporting data that was gained from ocean mapping done by warships and submarines during WW II and the Cold War. She explains the interrelationship between the earth's mantle and its magnetic core; hot spots and the plumes that form ocean mountains; and how these affected the breakup of Pangea, the supercontinent that once incorporated all of what today are separate land masses. Returning to the present, she also describes the way the earth releases heat and the effect of asteroids on geophysics. Vogel makes it clear that we are living in a tiny period of history along the larger geophysical continuum: ``Efforts to `save the earth' should properly be termed `save our species.' With or without our survival, the earth will continue for eons.'' Dynamic and unpretentious, this is the kind of book that teaches us to be curious about the unfamiliar. Read full book review >