Readers won’t find miracles but rather a sensitive doctor who writes well about an ongoing epidemic.



A physician who focuses on pain management illuminates his specialty.

After a chapter describing the nervous system and another on the history of pain relief—opium has been around since prehistory—British anesthesiologist Lalkhen takes up pain as experienced by patients and dealt with by doctors. The author makes it clear that both could use further education on the subject, which is undeniably complex. A sprained ankle is agonizing while soldiers suffering gruesome battle injuries sometimes feel little pain. In Chinese and Korean cultures, it’s often considered shameful to complain during childbirth, and few women receive analgesics; other cultures insist on “a more vocal response.” While it may be understandable for a patient to not fully comprehend the social and psychological factors that influence pain as much as the physical damage, it’s inexcusable for a doctor. New analgesic drugs have been appearing for more than two centuries, beginning with morphine in 1804. Although many surgeons remain casual about postoperative pain, the treatment of short-term pain remains straightforward. Chronic pain, however, is another story; sometimes it persists after the injury heals. In most cases of chronic back pain, neck pain, neuropathy, and even arthritis and in syndromes such as fibromyalgia, there is no injury and nothing to be “fixed”—but there are numerous ways to help. Sadly, many doctors continue to use procedures—e.g., surgery or nerve injections—that rarely work and prescribe drugs that produce side effects and addiction without relieving much pain. Lalkhen describes his multidisciplinary clinic, where doctors work with physiotherapists, nurses, psychologists, dieticians, and even alternative healers to help sufferers who often arrive addicted and desperate after undergoing repeated failed procedures. The author emphasizes that chronic pain is not curable, but a collaborative approach in which patients actively participate improves quality of life, self-confidence, and the ability to move, function, and return to work.

Readers won’t find miracles but rather a sensitive doctor who writes well about an ongoing epidemic.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982160-98-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2020

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...


A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.


The chef, rapper, and TV host serves up a blustery memoir with lashings of self-help.

“I’ve always had a sick confidence,” writes Bronson, ne Ariyan Arslani. The confidence, he adds, comes from numerous sources: being a New Yorker, and more specifically a New Yorker from Queens; being “short and fucking husky” and still game for a standoff on the basketball court; having strength, stamina, and seemingly no fear. All these things serve him well in the rough-and-tumble youth he describes, all stickball and steroids. Yet another confidence-builder: In the big city, you’ve got to sink or swim. “No one is just accepted—you have to fucking show that you’re able to roll,” he writes. In a narrative steeped in language that would make Lenny Bruce blush, Bronson recounts his sentimental education, schooled by immigrant Italian and Albanian family members and the mean streets, building habits good and bad. The virtue of those habits will depend on your take on modern mores. Bronson writes, for example, of “getting my dick pierced” down in the West Village, then grabbing a pizza and smoking weed. “I always smoke weed freely, always have and always will,” he writes. “I’ll just light a blunt anywhere.” Though he’s gone through the classic experiences of the latter-day stoner, flunking out and getting arrested numerous times, Bronson is a hard charger who’s not afraid to face nearly any challenge—especially, given his physique and genes, the necessity of losing weight: “If you’re husky, you’re always dieting in your mind,” he writes. Though vulgar and boastful, Bronson serves up a model that has plenty of good points, including his growing interest in nature, creativity, and the desire to “leave a legacy for everybody.”

The lessons to draw are obvious: Smoke more dope, eat less meat. Like-minded readers will dig it.

Pub Date: April 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4478-5

Page Count: 184

Publisher: Abrams

Review Posted Online: May 5, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

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